“Extremely disappointing” some newborns to lose out on “crucial” baby bundles

“Tackling child poverty should be a priority for Labour Welsh Government – it would be for Plaid Cymru” – Sioned Williams MS

Plaid Cymru has hit back at Labour Welsh Government plans to scale back the proposed roll of their Baby Bundles scheme.

The photograph shows a heap of boxes wrapped up as if for a baby. There are four big boxes on the bottom of the pile each with one of four letters on to spell BABY

The scheme, which was piloted in Swansea, was widely praised for its universality, which Welsh Government called a “key point” of the programme.

However, in the budget announcement yesterday (Tuesday 19 December), Welsh Government announced that £3.5m would be cut from programme, and the offering would no longer be universal.

This is in contrast with recommendations from the Equality and Social Justice Committee, which in November, noted the importance of “strong universal support” in early years, and the goal of the successful Baby Box programme in Scotland, which is also to engage parents with services.

Scottish Government currently has a “Baby Box” Scheme which is available to claim for every newborn in Scotland.

Plaid Cymru spokesperson for social justice and equalities, Sioned Williams MS said:

“From extolling its virtues, to scaling back their ambition considerably, the Welsh Government’s change of direction on the successful baby bundle scheme is extremely disappointing.

“Praise for the pilot scheme in Swansea had been heard across the Senedd, and the benefits of early interventions are known to be crucial in tackling child poverty. It’s therefore extremely disappointing that limits will be placed on which babies are eligible. We know that many families who are ineligible for many types of support are nonetheless struggling to pay for everyday items, so it will be crucial to understand who will miss out.

“When it comes to tackling child poverty, Welsh Government’s approach must be more strategic. What with the delays to the child poverty strategy, the scrapping of free school meals during the holidays, and now the limits being placed on which babies will be eligible for a Baby Bundle, their poor record speaks for itself.

“Government is all about priorities, and when funding is constrained, it makes it all the more important to ensure the money is being spent effectively. It is the view of Plaid Cymru that tackling child poverty should be a priority for this Government – it would be for us.”

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