‘Poverty Premium is one of the biggest reasons for rise in child poverty in Wales’
‘Zero hour contracts that companies like Sports Direct are giving out are providing a lack of consistency in salaries and leaving families questioning how they are going to make ends meet each week.’ says Cheryl Martin, development officer for child poverty at charity organisation Children in Wales . She goes on to say ‘this is a huge problem in Wales, as having a zero hour’s contract and inconsistent pay means many families can’t use direct debit payment methods for bills and utilities and end up paying more than those with stable incomes, this is known as “poverty premium”’.
On average low income families who are victims of poverty premium end up paying around 10% more for basic necessities such as gas and electricity, as prepaid meters work out more expensive; and they pay 150% more for basic goods that have to be bought on credit, such as fridges. Cheryl adds that this is one of ‘the biggest reasons child poverty is rising in wales’, and as the table below shows the percentage of children in poverty has risen in recent years.
‘People are ignorant about the problem and there certainly isn’t enough media coverage.’
In 2017 there are still 3.7 million children in the United Kingdom regarded as below the poverty line, with one of the worst affected areas being Wales. Almost a third of children in Wales, totaling around 200,000, are victims of either relative or absolute poverty.
Cheryl says that there is not enough appreciation for child poverty; ‘people are ignorant about the problem and there certainly isn’t enough media coverage.’ She continues ‘however, a lot of those struggling don’t want to identify with being in poverty and will deny it, which doesn’t help raise awareness of the problem.’ If you asked, it’s probable that the majority of people will not know these shocking numbers of children suffering in poverty.
Additionally, it is not just zero hours contracts contributing to rising child poverty numbers, Cheryl goes on to say how ‘the problem of recent welfare reforms such as the implementation of universal credit and bedroom taxes that are largely adding to families and single person’s struggling to maintain a living.’
So what can be done about these numbers? Firstly helping anyone in poverty not to feel embarrassed is a good start. Cheryl thinks the fewer stigmas are surrounding the issue the better, as almost anyone can end up having money troubles. Also remembering to be more aware that there is a problem and trying to help by donating to charities that support those in poverty such as Save the Children and Barnardo’s could help keep those in need afloat.