North Wales MS and Shadow Social Justice Minister Mark Isherwood has criticised the Welsh Government for letting down children and young people in Wales, particularly those living in poverty, and made fresh calls for the Welsh Government to deliver “a coherent, robust child poverty strategy”.
Questioning the Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip recently in the Senedd, Mr Isherwood expressed concern at Save the Children findings that “many young children in Wales fall behind in their development before starting school. One in 10 are behind in language ability by age seven, and, for children living in poverty, this doubles to one in five”.
He also referred to criticism made earlier this month by the Children's Commissioner for Wales of Welsh Government's plans to tackle child poverty in Wales, which she said “lacked ambition, clarity and detail”.
Mr Isherwood said:
“She went on to say that the lack of detail on 'actions, timescales and deliverables' means that there was no way of holding the Welsh Government to account, adding: 'We are in a time of crisis, we need a coherent robust child poverty strategy.
'It's a list of policy initiatives which doesn't really spell out what, how, when or who will actually deliver against those different policies in order to reduce and eradicate child poverty.'
“Will the Welsh Government therefore commit to delivering not only a coherent, robust child poverty strategy, but one which does specifically spell out what, how, where, when and who will actually deliver?”
Mr Isherwood also highlighted that disabled people in Wales are almost twice as likely as non-disabled people to live in a low-income household, and if there's also a disabled child the poverty rate is even higher.
He also expressed concern that the voice, choice and control that disabled people in Wales should have is being denied as NHS Wales does not offer the personal wheelchair budgets available to wheelchair users in England.
“Although children's wheelchairs are often bespoke, which will have an impact on the length of time required to manufacture a chair, 82 per cent of children in England who needed a wheelchair received one within four-and-a-half months.”
He called on the Minister to ask the Health Minister to take practical action to increase efficiency and reduce the waiting times for child wheelchair users in Wales.