The Rhondda AM has called for urgent action to lift women in Wales out of poverty.
Leanne Wood AM was responding to a new report, produced by Chwarae Teg and the Bevan Foundation, which has found that many women are at significant risk of poverty.
The report also found that public policy has failed to recognise to recognise the difference between men and women’s experiences of poverty. Loss of housing and relationship breakdown were the biggest causes of women being in poverty; amongst women who are homeless, relationship breakdown with violence was a root cause for nearly a quarter of women who were in priority need.
The report also suggested several things that the Labour Government in Wales could do to mitigate poverty levels.
“This report should be a wake-up call to all those with the power and responsibility to do something about it this appalling situation” said Ms Wood. “The precarious financial position many women find themselves in in 2019, is unacceptable.
“I hope this report is taken seriously by the Tories in in Westminster but I’m sure few will hold their breath given they have already presided over mass poverty among WASPI women as well as those reliant on benefits. This report suggests a few policies – which have all been championed by Plaid Cymru - that can be implemented in Wales because of the shield that our limited devolution settlement provides.
“Developing an anti-poverty strategy would be a good start. Since the ending of the Communities First programme in early 2018 by the Labour government in Wales, no new programme has replaced it. That is a terrible indictment and needs rectifying as soon as possible.
“Expanding the free childcare would also lift many women out of poverty. Women make up the majority of lone parents in Wales so women would stand to benefit most of all by the introduction of what the report calls ‘seamless, universal free provision.’ This would grant women greater flexibility and better opportunities to become employed.
“The report also calls for is the devolution of the administration of welfare benefits, as has been done in Scotland. This would allow Wales to take a more compassionate and considerate approach to people in receipt of benefits.
“This report identifies that devolution would allow for the freedom to develop a system that gives women choice and flexibility in managing their finances. Extra powers could be used to allow households to choose who claims income.”
Leanne added: “This report needs to be essential reading for the Welsh Government, and I will be calling upon them to give serious consideration to the policy suggestions contained within so that we can tackle poverty in every community of Wales.”
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