A report evaluated the Child Poverty Strategy in Wales. It said that policies were now in place to support the poverty objectives across the Welsh Government, but more could be done to link economic growth strategies with poverty objectives and there was no strong evidence found that the scale of programming was sufficient to make the necessary scale of change. The report said that the duty placed on local authorities and other public bodies had a limited impact to date in terms of new programming or allocation of additional resources, but had encouraged public bodies to review their programming, had enhanced co-ordination between programmes and services at a local level, and had improved monitoring systems.
Source: Ipsos MORI and the New Policy Institute, Evaluation of the Welsh Child Poverty Strategy: Final report, Research Paper 67/2014, Welsh Government
A report examined the impact in Wales of the personal tax and benefit reforms implemented, or due to be implemented, by the United Kingdom's coalition government from May 2010 up to and including April 2015.
Source: David Phillips, The Distributional Effects of the UK Government's Tax and Welfare Reforms in Wales: An update, Briefing Note 150, Institute for Fiscal Studies
A report examined the cumulative impact of welfare reform on benefit claimants in Wales, based on evidence from Citizens Advice Bureaux and qualitative research on the 'lived experience' of the recent benefit changes. The report said that bureaux found benefits and tax credit-related issues to be the largest problem area for which clients sought help, accounting for over two-fifths (42 per cent) of all problems in Wales during 2013-14 (over 141,500 problems). Issues relating to employment and support allowance were most common, many clients sought help with appeals or work capability assessments, and there had been notable increases in personal independence payment issues, the under-occupancy penalty (commonly known as the 'bedroom tax'), and jobseeker's allowance sanctions. For many participants in the research, benefit changes had resulted in a reduction in their household income, with associated impacts on their standard of living and frequent reports of people going without basic essentials in order make rent payments or afford other essential household bills. Most participants had been affected by the under-occupancy penalty. Some of those seeking work reported difficulties such as the cost of childcare, difficulties in affording transport or clothes for job interviews, or the lack of internet access at home. Many people were in debt and the report raised concerns about the impact of hardship on people's mental and physical health. The report made a wide range of recommendations for the government, local authorities, social housing providers, and for health organizations.
Source: Lindsey Kearton and Jacqueline Aneen Campbell, One Day at a Time: Examining the cumulative impact of welfare reform on benefit claimants in Wales, Citizens Advice Cymru
A report examined the impact of indebtedness on deprived communities, drawing on data from the United Kingdom, but focusing on Wales wherever data were available. It said that: the best estimate of the extent of overindebtedness in Wales was 16 per cent of the population; indebtedness was strongly associated with socio-economic disadvantage, with particularly high levels of indebtedness found in the central and eastern valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, and Blaenau Gwent, while the north Wales coast and some rural areas also indicated higher levels of problems on at least one measure; and indebtedness was strongly associated with low-income and financial exclusion, because of increased risk factors such as low levels of savings and low disposable incomes, although indebtedness was usually the result of a combination of circumstances, events, and behaviours.
Source: Victoria Winckler, Overview of Indebtedness, Low Income and Financial Exclusion, Public Policy Institute for Wales
A report examined the nature of poverty among older people in Wales. It said that relatively low numbers of older people had occupational or personal pensions, and 8 per cent of older households lived in severe poverty. The report said that, although some progress had been made in the 1990s and early 2000s in reducing pensioner poverty, more recently the impact of rising costs, low interest rates, and reduced annuity rates had created greater pressures on older households. The report said that benefits were under-claimed, and called for a range of measures, including for more advice and information services to enhance income maximization efforts, and for action on a range of measures such as fuel poverty, care costs, and transport costs.
Source: Life on a Low Income: The reality of poverty for older people in Wales, Age Cymru
A report evaluated the Access to Financial Services through Credit Unions Project that sought to develop the credit union movement in Wales. The report said that the project was relatively successful in meeting its aims and objectives, albeit not consistently so across the credit union movement. Although some progress had been made towards developing a 'strong, sound and effective credit union movement', the report noted rifts within the movement. It said that the project had performed exceptionally well against its target for supporting financially excluded individuals, and good progress had been made towards the targets for 2020 set out in the Credit Union Action Plan. The report noted a growth in credit union membership and some growth in the asset base and loan portfolio, but said that credit unions still had very high operating costs, and continued to hold higher levels of cash reserves than desired. The report concluded that the project could have achieved better value for money, but that the severe limitations of the available data restricted the assessment of economic impact.
Source: Nia Bryer, An Evaluation of the Access to Financial Services through Credit Unions Project: Final report, Research Report 51/2014, Welsh Government
The Welsh Government published two reports on poverty in Wales. The first drew on the British Household Panel Survey to examine the extent to which individuals moved in and out of poverty, the characteristics of those who remained in poverty, and the types of events that led to change either way. The second report looked at the usability of the BHPS, and its successor Understanding Society, for analysis at the Wales level, through an illustrative analysis of poverty dynamics in Wales.
Source 1: New Policy Institute, The Dynamics of Low Income, Social research number: 30/2014, Welsh Government
Source 2: Rhys Davies and Huw Lloyd-Williams, An Investigation of the Potential for Wales-Level Analysis of the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society: An illustrative analysis of poverty dynamics in Wales, Social research number: 31/2014, Welsh Government
An article examined the ways in which people living in material poverty discussed their everyday lives, drawing on a study of poverty in rural Wales. Community belonging and attachment to landscape appeared to be more significant than material hardship and social exclusion in poor people's narratives of their everyday lives. Community belonging was also bound up with particular moral discourses of welfare and rurality that perpetuated material poverty.
Source: Paul Milbourne, 'Poverty, place, and rurality: material and sociocultural disconnections', Environment and Planning A, Volume 46 Number 3
A report examined the impact of the United Kingdom government's welfare reforms in local authority areas in Wales, updating and extending earlier work on the effects at the household and individual level. It said that the changes were estimated to reduce annual benefit and tax credit entitlements in 2015-16 by around £900 million. Around half of this loss was said to be due to the way benefits and tax credits would be uprated. Other large losses were attributed to personal independence payments and the time limiting of employment and support allowance. Neath Port Talbot, Blaenau Gwent, and Merthyr Tydfil were the areas estimated to be hardest hit by the reforms. The findings would inform policy, and ongoing research would aim to quantify the distributional impact up to and including the 2014 budget.
Source: Analysing the Impact of the UK Government's Welfare Reforms in Wales – Stage 3 Analysis Part 2: Impacts in local authority areas, Welsh Government