Page last updated at 05:44 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 06:44 UK

Concerns over Wales child poverty plan funding

Poverty letters on hillside
The target in Wales is to eradicate child poverty by 2020

Concerns have been raised that the assembly government's new child poverty strategy could result in funding cuts for projects aimed at helping children.

The strategy places legal duties on public bodies to set objectives aimed at lifting the most disadvantaged children out of poverty.

Ministers say the £50m Cymorth fund now must be directed to those most in need.

The assembly government said it was sensitive to the Cymorth projects but some had had more success than others.

The flagship strategy on child poverty is aimed at helping nearly one-third of children in Wales who live in poverty.

The assembly government already has targets to eliminate child poverty by 2020.

Legislative changes from the Child Poverty Act 2010 and a Welsh assembly government Children and Families Measure 2010 means there will now be legal duties on public bodies to set objectives to tackle child poverty.

However Welsh local authorities are deeply concerned at a last minute decision by the assembly government to use the Cymorth fund for the strategy's new national programme of activity.

We recognise the crucial importance of work for parents as the most sustainable route out of poverty
Carwyn Jones AM

It means money for hundreds of current projects including early years' work, health promotion and youth participation could be in doubt.

The assembly government says some Cymorth projects have had more success than others, and the strategy is designed to direct funding to those most in need.

The strategy is being launched at a children's centre in New Tredegar on Wednesday morning by First Minister Carwyn Jones and deputy minister for children, Huw Lewis.

Mr Lewis said 32% of children now live in households with an income below 60% of the average, which is the accepted poverty threshold.

The strategy will go out to consultation for three months.

'Break the cycle'

Mr Jones said Wales was the first of the UK countries to introduce legislation to tackle child poverty.

"This new child poverty strategy and delivery plan is the fulfilment of this duty on Welsh ministers and we are setting ourselves three new strategic child poverty objectives which sum up our overall approach," said Mr Jones.

"Through these we recognise the crucial importance of work for parents as the most sustainable route out of poverty, the need to combat rising levels of poverty in families where there is someone in work through better training and quality jobs and, of course, the need to reduce the gap between the outcomes of our poorest children and their more affluent peers."

Conservative education spokesman Paul Davies AM said the consultation was a "clear admission" by the assembly government that previous efforts to tackle child poverty had failed.

"By their own admission efforts to cut child poverty levels have stalled.

"For this latest measure to be effective it must break the cycle of hopelessness and tackle the causes of poverty at its roots," he said.

"We need real, effective action to give children and young people opportunity and hope for the future, not yet another consultation and yet another strategy."

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