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Nia Owen, Maes Geirchen youth worker
"There's not enough for the young to do on the estate"
 real 56k

Elfyn Llwyd MP, select committee member
"There are a lot of youngsters in particular out there who are disaffected"
 real 28k

Committee member Julie Morgan MP
"We were very deeply moved by the spirit have in these communities"
 real 28k

Monday, 15 January, 2001, 17:02 GMT
First Minister backs anti-poverty strategy
House in Maes Geirchen
The report aims to find projects to help communities
Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan has described a report by the Welsh Affairs Committee into social exclusion as an important step forward in tackling poverty.

He said the assembly Cabinet would look carefully at the recommendations put forward and work with the welsh secretary and the UK government.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan
Backing from Rhodri Morgan

Mr Morgan's comments came after the committee of Welsh MPs investigating poverty and deprivation in Wales called on Westminster to raise benefit levels.

Members said increased benefits were central to tackling social exclusion.

They also called on the Assembly to give more secure long-term funding to community projects.

In their most wide-ranging inquiry yet, the MPs have spent more than a year touring Wales, looking at villages and estates where communities are isolated or deprived.

From almost every statistic, Wales is poorer than England and the committee set out to discover why and what was being done to tackle the inequality.

'Poverty trap'

Their quest also took them to the United States where they saw projects which aim to get people into work and out of benefit quickly.

The MPs visited the former steel and mining communities of Pittsburgh to discover how the

In a report published on Monday, the committee said the government should order banks to conduct what they call social impact assessments before closing branches.

They also said the Post Office was not doing enough to maintain its network of branches either.

Finally they insisted there was a strong case for simpler, broader fundraising schemes for projects which come from the voluntary sector.

Committee chairman, Clwyd South MP Martin Jones, said: "Our most important recommendation is to reform the benefits system in a way which will stop the poverty trap applying to people who want to get jobs."

It upset me seeing some of the housing conditions people live in

Julie Morgan MP
Among the estates the group visited was Maes Geirchen in Bangor, north Wales - home to nearly 3,000 and has the second lowest incomes statistics in Wales.

The MPs said they were shocked by poor housing in places such as Rhyl, also in north Wales, and by the effects of poverty in Blaenau Gwent, in south east Wales.

Committee member Julie Morgan - MP for Cardiff North - said: "I think housing is a vital issue.

"It upset me seeing some of the housing conditions people live in. But we were very encouraged by the spirit people have."

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See also:

18 Sep 00 | Wales
Health project to beat poverty
15 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Labour turns its sights on poverty
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