Almost a quarter of people in Wales are struggling to make ends meet and poverty is costing the country £3.6bn a year – a fifth of the Welsh government’s annual budget and equivalent to £1,150 for every person living in Wales, a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed.
An average of 700,000 people were in poverty in Wales in the three years to 2014-15: that is 23% of the population. The report says high housing costs are the cause of poverty for 100,000 people in Wales. The report flags up high levels of “underemployment”, highlighting that in September about 17% of part-time workers wanted but could not get full-time jobs. The report says: “Tackling working poverty means recognising that for too many, low pay goes hand-in-hand with low hours. On average, part-time employees in Wales are paid much less than full-time employees, at £8.12 an hour (excluding overtime) compared with £12.26 an hour.”
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Poverty in Wales is holding back almost a quarter of the population, damaging the economy and affecting the life chances of the next generation. This is unacceptable.”
Unwin forgets Voltaire’s maxim, “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”