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What would a Wales without poverty look like?

October 1st 2019

In all the talk about tackling, ending or solving poverty, people rarely describe what a Wales without poverty would be like. Victoria Winckler has a go.

We often write that our ambition is to solve or end poverty. This is not an impossible dream – we’ve seen pensioner poverty fall dramatically because the UK Government did something about it. So it can be done.

Of course, a Wales without poverty would have statistics that showed less than ten per cent of people lived in its grip.  But what would Wales without poverty be like away from the graph? Here’s a few ideas.

1. No more homelessness

A dramatic and visible end of poverty would be an end to homelessness. No more people in shop doorways. No more tents in our towns.

Poverty is the number one cause of homelessness. Escaping its grip would mean everyone could afford a decent home.

2. No need for food banks

Solving poverty would also mean food banks close down. Not because of lack of funds or lack of food, but simply because nobody needs them. Why? Because in a Wales without poverty, people’s pay and benefits would be reliable and sufficient enough to cover essentials. Local shops or deliveries would provide good quality and affordable food, and people on lower incomes would no longer be more likely to be overweight or obese.

3. Work that pays

A Wales without poverty would have decent work for everyone who wants it, no matter who they are or where they live. Cleaning or caring would be respected and secure jobs, and there’d be proportionally as many digital designers in Caerau as Cardiff Bay.

Tax credits would be obsolete because no employer would pay less than a living wage, and zero hours contracts would be consigned to history.

4. A fair social security system

In a Wales without poverty, the benefits system would be an unobtrusive anchor when times are tough. It would keep people afloat with enough money to get by when they need it. A letter from the Welsh Government’s new Department for Social Security would no longer
strike fear of sanctions.

5. All children doing well at school

We’d really be making progress when children from low-income families do just as well at school as their better-off peers. Schools in -say – Ely or Caia Park would have waiting lists because of their rounded education and good results. No child would be going to school hungry or without the right kit, and what income differences remain between families simply wouldn’t matter.

These are just a few of the things that the Bevan Foundation is striving for.  A Wales without poverty is more than just a slogan or a soundbite – it is a better future that we all need to work hard for. Please will you join us against poverty today?

Victoria Winckler is Director of the Bevan Foundation.

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