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Poverty is deepening in Wales, says new report

BASW Cymru deputy director Allison Hulmes attends launch of ‘Is Wales Fairer?’

On Tuesday, 6 November 2018, BASW Cymru deputy director Allison Hulmes attended the launch of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Wales report Is Wales Fairer? - The state of equality and human rights 2018.

Launched at Senedd, the National Assembly of Wales, the report was launched by June Milligan, Commissioner for Wales and included a speech by Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

The report brings together evidence from all areas of life including health, housing, justice, education and participation to assess levels of inequality in Wales.

Professor Alston is in the UK responding to concerns about the human rights of people living in extreme poverty, on which written evidence has already been submitted by BASW UK.

Here are some of the key findings in Wales:

  • Poverty is deepening in Wales – more people in Wales are reliant on welfare than in England and Scotland, meaning that reductions to in-work and out-of-work benefits are having a greater impact here.
  • Attainment gaps at school-leaving age for children in receipt of free school meals and with additional learning needs persist.
  • 60% girls growing up in Wales have experienced bullying, 70% had experienced sexism and 65% had experienced sexual harassment.
  • Despite increased funding, mental health provision in not meeting demand. The number of people waiting for treatment has doubled in the last 6 years.
  • Gypsy, Roma and traveller families, transgender people, refugees and asylum seekers continue to experience particular difficulties, in accessing quality health services.
  • Wales has the lowest life expectancy for men and women, particularly disabled people, when compared to England and Scotland. Men living in the most deprived areas of Wales have a life expectancy 8 years lower than men in the least deprived areas.
  • There has been an increase of 61% in recorded domestic abuse related incidents since 2010/11.

The above list amounts to some deeply disturbing truths about the context in which social work happens in Wales.

The Wales Act 2017 has now come into force, giving Welsh Government the added powers to promote human rights and to tackle poverty. A cross party group on poverty has been set up and through this forum, BASW Cymru will be lobbying for a poverty strategy for Wales, one that sets clear and measurable targets by which we can hold Welsh Government to account.

BASW Cymru will also continue to work in collaboration with Social Work Union in campaigning for improved working conditions for social workers.

“Wales will not become a fairer nation until we have eradicated poverty and there is equal opportunity for all, and each of us has a role to play in ensuring this happens. Therefore, there has never been a more important time to be member of BASW/SWU,” says Allison Hulmes.