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BASW Cymru urges Welsh Government to provide vital information and guidance for people experiencing or at risk of poverty during Covid-19

The Wales’ Anti-Poverty Coalition, of which BASW Cymru is a member, has written to the Welsh First Minister

Leading civil society organisations and professional bodies across Wales, including BASW Cymru, have written a joint letter to the Welsh First Minister urging the Welsh Government to launch a high-impact “Wales-wide communications campaign” in order to ensure people across the country are aware of the different types of support available to people experiencing or at risk of poverty, including free school meals, council tax reductions and self-isolation payments.

The full letter by The Wales Anti-Poverty Coalition can be read below:

 

20 November 2020

Annwyl First Minister,

Re: Covid-19 and people living in poverty

As Wales continues to battle the onslaught of Covid-19, we are writing this open letter as to outline one of our ongoing concerns for people living in poverty in Wales.

We recognise what a challenging time this is for government - but it is the people who are hungry, the people who don’t have secure accommodation, the people who don’t have enough money for the bare essentials who we are worried about.

Poverty in Wales is likely to get worse as the economic fallout from Covid-19 continues.

A combination of low pay, unaffordable housing and lack of childcare continue to trap nearly a quarter of the population in poverty. Too many people are struggling.

By August this year, the number of Universal Credit claimants had doubled since the beginning of the year. Coronavirus is exacerbating existing inequality. It is the people on the lowest incomes who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

We welcome a range of measures introduced by your government to help people through this crisis – changes to Free School Meals provision, increased emergency support for people in financial crisis, and changes to eviction notice periods. We are actively working with officials on a range of matters, and we are grateful for this engagement.

One key concern we have is the lack of public information.  Evidence we are seeing shows that many people are not aware of the existence of the pots of funds and support services available to them.

We urge the Welsh Government to prioritise a Wales wide communications campaign – as a minimum this must include:

• Discretionary Assistance Fund;

• Self-Isolation Payments;

• Healthy Start Vouchers;

• Free School Meals;

• Council Tax Reduction Scheme;

• Discretionary Housing Payments.

It is critical that information and guidance from government and local authorities is clear, concise and direct, available in different languages and accessible formats. We urge the Welsh Government to act with urgency to ensure people in Wales can access the support they need.

We thank you for your tireless efforts in helping to safeguard Wales and stand ready to support you towards this aim. We won’t live with poverty.

Cofion gorau,

Rachel Cable, Oxfam Cymru

Catherine Rees, Save the Children

Allison Hulmes, British Association of Social Workers

Karen Davies, Purple Shoots

Sam Rex-Edwards, Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru / Together Creating Communities

Dr Steffan Evans, Bevan Foundation

Ben Saltmarsh, National Energy Action Cymru

Revd Owen Griffiths, Carmel Community Clothing

Sarah Stone, Samaritans Cymru

Ellie Harwood, Child Poverty Action Group

Beth Thomas, The Big Issue

Alicja Zalesinka, Tai Pawb

Katie Palmer, Food Sense Wales