Poverty in Wales: 5,000 work and training places in poverty plan

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Media captionThe Welsh government wants to create 5,000 new jobs or training places for people from homes where no-one is in work

Hundreds of households in Wales where no adult is working are to be offered work and training under new plans to tackle poverty.

"Personalised, intensive support" will be given to the long-term unemployed, including 5,000 work and training places.

The Welsh government's Tackling Poverty Action Plan also aims to improve school attainment for the poorest children.

The opposition called it "warm words" after little progress had been made.

First Minister Carwyn Jones promised to leave "no stone unturned" .

Mr Jones said: "This plan is a clear commitment, right across the Welsh government, that we will use our resources to help those currently most in need and prevent future generations experiencing poverty.

"These are hard times - a flat lining economy, the biggest shake-up to the benefits system in 60 years, public spending cuts and rising living costs.

"Despite this, sitting back and watching the costs associated with poverty escalate is not an option."

The Tackling Poverty Action Plan was first launched in June last year, with a commitment to refresh it after 12 months.

As well as helping the long-term out of work to find a job, the latest plans includes targets to rescue the number of young people who are not earning or learning and ambitions to improve the nation's health.

Other targets include:

  • Reducing the number of 16 to 18-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training to 9% by 2017
  • Improving the overall attainment levels for pupils eligible for free school meals to GCSE grade C or above in English or Welsh and mathematics of equivalent to 37% by 2017
  • Close the health gaps between those living in Wales' most deprived communities and more affluent ones by 2.5% by 2020
  • Reducing the number of babies born under 5.5pounds (2500g) in the most deprived fifth of the population by 19% by 2020

After accounting for the cost of housing, around a third of children in Wales are from homes classed as living in poverty.

Statistics released last month show the figure, which has changed little in recent years, rose from 31% to 33%.

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Media caption'I'm finding everyday living expenses a bit of a nightmare due to the cost of living and how much it has gone up'

Children are classed as being in relative poverty if they are from a household that lives on less than 60% of the median - or middle - income.

Measures to help people find work include six pilot projects in Communities First areas, which will offer the 5,000 opportunities to adults in workless households to find training and jobs.

On helping families and children in poverty, ministers say they are doubling investment in the Flying Start programme which provides childcare for two-year-olds in deprived areas.

More than £33m is going directly to schools in the pupil deprivation grant to invest in ways of tackling the impact of poverty on children's attainment.

Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister Jeff Cuthbert, who launched the plan with the first minister, said: "Our ambition is to see a Wales were we break the link between being born poor and spending a lifetime in poverty.

"Helping people into work is an important part of this and we will focus our efforts on creating 5,000 opportunities for people in households where there is no adult in employment.

"We want to do this because unemployment can have an impact on so many aspects of life."

Shadow Communities Minister Mark Isherwood said it was "more warm words about tackling poverty" from a government which had made little progress in meeting its anti-poverty commitments during almost a decade and a half in power.

Lib Dem social justice spokesman Peter Black added: "It goes without saying that we all share the aspirations that are laid out in the Tackling Poverty Plan.

"However, what's important is the outcomes these initiatives deliver."

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