Plaid Cymru Shadow spokesperson for Economy and Finance Rhun ap Iorwerth has called for powers over Welfare Administration to be devolved to Wales during a debate on poverty and human rights in the Assembly Chamber on Tuesday evening.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston, published a statement following a recent visit to the United Kingdom which outlined almost one in four Welsh people are living in relative income poverty.
Professor Alston’s statement outlined the key barriers to Welsh Government being able to better mitigate poverty in the country, and Plaid Cymru AM Mr ap Iorwerth has called for Welfare powers to be devolved to Wales, as Welsh Government’s current approach clearly isn’t working.
Mr ap Iorwerth said:
“Wales faces the highest relative poverty rate in the United Kingdom, with almost one in four people living in relative income poverty. In-work poverty has grown over the last decade, despite considerable improvement in the employment rate and 25% of jobs pay below the minimum wage.
“Welsh Government’s approach to tackling this clearly isn’t working. We’ve seen in other parts of these islands, the steps that are being taken in Northern Ireland, in Scotland and it’s time for us in Wales to say that we have to try to seek those levers—all of those levers—that could be within our grasp to get to grips with the poverty that is a source of shame for us as a nation.
“At the very least administrative control would allow Welsh Government to take the measures that would reduce use of food banks, reduce arrears and problems with housing that Welsh Government finances, and reduce pressures on the health service.
“Plaid Cymru is not asking for these powers for the sake of it. We are asking for the powers because people are dying and being entrenched in poverty. It’s Labour here that’s failing to seek those powers.”