This conference discussed latest thinking on policy and wider initiatives for reducing poverty in Wales - with a focus on welfare reform, regional approaches and long-term strategies.
Discussion reflected key themes and issues emerging as policymakers scrutinise developments and consider practical ways forward for policy, and assessed the impact of policy initiatives themselves.
The conference was an opportunity to consider key themes from the series of inquiries into poverty in Wales by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee - looking at how government resources can best be used to reduce poverty long-term and how the economic strategy plan should be applied to address inequalities and broaden the impact of economic growth.
Discussion looked at the impact of the Universal Credit (UC) roll-out so far and the future shape of UC.
It followed the decision of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to make changes to the distribution of payments and delay full migration of welfare claimants into the new system until 2020, in order to pilot the switch and further address concerns.
The seminar occurred in the context of the high court decision which upheld claimants’ challenge regarding the fluctuations in payments for workers with variable monthly incomes and after the Equality and Human Rights Commission reported that welfare reform is likely to push up to 50,000 more children into poverty and put further pressure on local authorities.
Further sessions examined progress on locally-focused strategies to tackle the root causes of poverty in light of the end of the Communities First programme - including priorities for improving access to housing for workless families and those on low incomes.
Delegates also discussed themes from the report from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, A Charter for Change: Protecting Welsh Children from the Impact of Poverty - including calls for a new Child Poverty Delivery Plan, widening access to free school meals, and encouraging local authorities to use community activists to include children and young people in developing programmes aimed at them.
It also came after the Public Services Boards published their Well-being plans, which look at long-term and regional early intervention strategies that can be implemented to prevent poverty arising, and the approaches available to local authorities.
Further discussion took place on the role that newer forms of work arrangements could play in tackling the root causes of poverty, especially amongst women with young children and came following a further inquiry by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee into parenting and employment in Wales.