A Senedd Equality and Social Justice Committee report published this week found that over 1 in 4 children (28%) in Wales are living in relative income poverty – a cause for national shame, writes Cefin Campbell MS.

Unfortunately, this is a long running problem – earlier this year the Children’s Commissioner for Wales described poverty as “the biggest issue affecting children in Wales, and tackling it effectively is the Welsh Government’s biggest task”.

Despite repeated soundings of the alarm, the Welsh Labour government’s prolonged inaction in addressing the blight of child poverty may very well become their legacy.

Despite the outward appearance of relative affluence in rural communities in Mid Wales, we know that child poverty is often hidden in plain sight.

Earlier this year, data from the UK Government showed 4,819 children in Powys were living in relative poverty – equivalent to almost a quarter of the county’s children.


The consequences of such hardship on our next generation is often dramatic – it limits opportunities, has a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, and damages long-term career prospects.

As part of the Co-Operation Agreement with Welsh Government, I’m proud that Plaid Cymru was able to deliver the roll-out of free school meals for all primary school pupils – making a real difference for families as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite - and aiding those torn between heating and eating.

However, it is clear more must be done – and rather than moving the goalposts on eradicating child poverty as it has done previously, the Welsh Government must take much bolder action to ensure a fair future for all our young people. 

Time after time, Plaid Cymru have led the charge, demanding more radical and urgent measures to tackle child poverty.

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We have pressed for expanding free school meals to all secondary school children from households claiming Universal Credit, together with looking at direct child payments to poorer household. These kinds of direct cash payments have been shown to be one of the most effective ways of reducing child poverty.

The need for a new approach to the problem is urgent across the length and breadth of Wales.

However, this does not mean that these solutions will be exactly the same in all parts of Wales – and particular attention should be given to the causes and drivers of child poverty in our rural areas as part of any wider effort.

We cannot allow this national shame, and the generational harm it causes, to go on.