SAVE the Children’s (StC) ‘Local Snapshot’ is a briefing to support Local Authorities and Local Service Boards in Wales to discharge their statutory duty to tackle child poverty under the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010, which is an inclusive aspect of new local Single Integrated Plans.

In the StC 2012 briefing the figure of 19% of children in Carmarthenshire living in poverty was used however in the Carmarthenshire Well-Being Assessment 2017  35% of households and 20% of Carmarthenshire’s children are said to be living in poverty, 62% of these children are under 10 years old.

The furore recently regarding the price differences between Vue Cinemas in Wales was something to behold. The item was sent to us to look into however something struck us about the piece, which although blatantly unfair belied a much deeper problem facing those who may or may not be able to afford the cost of a visit to the Carmarthen cinema as opposed to the Swansea or Cardiff cinema.

Children’s charities believe that there is a much greater set of statistics for us to focus our time and energy on. It is a question we have been asking local, regional and national politicians on almost every occasion we have interviewed them.

The question is ‘What are they doing about child poverty’?

Should we be concerned about the rise in the number of people in Carmarthenshire accessing food banks. Should we be concerned at the rise in the number of soup kitchens being opened in the county? Despite pervasive views that those in poverty are somehow engineers of their own demise the sad truth is that anybody could find themselves in need of the food bank.

Whether one looks at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation research or the Save the Children research
the facts are desperately distressing and incredibly hard to bear given that we are surrounded by such wealth and opulence at every turn in Carmarthenshire with millions of pounds being invested in what some perceive as vanity projects. £200 million plus is said to be the figure required for a well being centre in Carmarthenshire but what is well being of not the eradication of child poverty in the county?

Save the Children’s ‘Local Snapshot’ is a briefing to support Local Authorities and Local Service Boards in Wales to discharge their statutory duty to tackle child poverty under the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010, which is an inclusive aspect of new local Single Integrated Plans.

The report states that:

  • 200,000 children are living in poverty in Wales
  • as many as 90,000 live in severe poverty
  • Wales has the highest rate of child poverty of any nation in the UK

A Snapshot of Carmarthenshire:

  • 52,500 children and young people (0-25) living in Carmarthenshire
  • 37,584 of them are 0-19 years old
  • 7,291 (19%) live in relative income poverty (households at or below 60% of median income).

Data on child poverty at a local level is often difficult to obtain. Carmarthen Foodbank
offer the following statistics:

  • 2,000 three day emergency food supplies were provided by Carmarthen food bank 2016-17
  • 1,848 in 2015-16
  • 602 went to children

Top three reasons for food bank referral were:

  • low income
  • benefit delay
  • benefit change

There are some interesting statistics regarding education. Free School Meal eligibility is a key proxy measure of household income. At all key stages, learners eligible for free school meals tend to perform significantly less well than those not eligible. Poor educational attainment is likely to harm children and young people’s future life chances and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

  • 4,541 (17%) of pupils in Carmarthenshire are eligible for free school meals
  • 18.2% national average
  • 22% of children and young people who are eligible are currently not receiving them.

The report states that schools currently receive £450 per learner eligible for FSM. Carmarthenshire receives £1,690,200 in Pupil Deprivation Grant.

108 (2.89%) of the 3738 year 11 to 13 school leavers in Carmarthenshire did not move into Education Employment or Training (NEET) in 2011.

Statistics alone can’t tell us the full story of child poverty in Wales. Behind every single figure there
is a child who has had their childhood devastated and their opportunities curtailed by the scourge
of growing up poor. Statistics, though, do help us to understand the nature of the challenge we face
and allow us to track and maintain our progress in meeting that challenge.

Vue Cinema Ticket prices:

  • Carmarthen £34.16
  • Swansea £22.96
  • Merthyr £22.96
  • Cwmbran £22.96
  • Cardiff £19.00

The cost of even the cheapest ticket to the Vue Cinema is beyond many of the families within the report. There is also recent research, which suggests that there are far more families who belong in the category of living what has been termed a ‘no frills’ lifestyle whereby couples raising two children while working full-time on the minimum wage are falling £49 a week short of being able to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle. Cinema tickets are considered a luxury and therefore not for the poor.

Perhaps we should be focusing our energy and resources on questioning not the discrepancies in prices at cinemas between Carmarthen and other areas in Wales but why there are so many children in poverty in Carmarthenshire.

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