'Social background affects poverty' in Wales says study

The Equality and Human Rights Commission claims people's gender, disability and ethnicity all affect how successful they are in life.

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A fifth of people in Wales live in poverty because of their social background, claims a new report.

Research for the Equality and Human Rights Commission shows gender, disability and ethnicity all contribute to achievements at school and work.

The study says Muslim men are 50% less likely to be in work than Christian men, while 76% of Muslim women are less likely to be in work.

The Welsh Assembly Government will not comment until it has seen the report.

The report, released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods, says Wales has "deeply entrenched" inequalities.

However, it claims the gap between the rich and the poor in Wales is narrower than the rest of the UK.

REPORT FINDINGS

  • Pupils eligible for free school meals are 2.5 times less likely to get A*-C grades in core subjects than their peers.
  • 74% of disabled people and 46% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are not in employment or full-time education
  • 20% of people in Wales live in poverty
  • Almost 50% of single parents live in poverty and so do 13% of in-work households
  • Muslim men are 50% less likely to be in work than Christian men
  • Male graduates earn £15.40 per hour on average and male non-graduates £9.10
  • Women graduates earn £13.53 per hour on average and non-graduates £7.33
  • Source: An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in Wales

Kate Bennett, national director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Wales, said: "The evidence in this report is vitally important - if you think you know Wales, then think again.

"I challenge anyone looking at this report not to find at least one surprising fact about how we live in today's 21st Century Wales.

"This report doesn't claim to have the solutions, but the evidence will help in decisions about how and where resources can have the most positive benefit to people's lives.

"We all know that feelings of being valued, respected and trusted are lower in societies with a big gap between the rich and poor."

Prof Teresa Rees from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods, which includes Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Swansea Universities, said: "This thought-provoking report should play a major role in evidence-based policy in Wales designed to tackle both long running and newly discovered forms of inequality.

'Good time keeping'

"Crucially, poverty should not be something parents pass on to their children."

Naz Malik, chief executive of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association, said he had seen the executive summary of the report.

He said: "The findings of the report are fairly consistent with the work we do with the grass roots.

"What the report seems to be saying is when it comes to ethnicity people from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese backgrounds are worse off.

"But to address this we need to address certain barriers at work. There is some responsibility on employers, but there's also a responsibility on employees and they must understand why they are not climbing the social scale.

"People from these communities have historically concentrated on a good education, but they also need to concentrate on the softer skills. Communication is always an issue, but there's also good time keeping and teamwork. They must understand the culture and social dynamics at work."

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