Plaid Cymru Members of the Senedd for South Wales West have called upon Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend Councils to explore the establishment of Poverty Truth Commissions.
Sioned Williams MS and Luke Fletcher MS, Plaid Cymru Members of the Senedd for South Wales West, made the calls following the launch of a Poverty Truth Commission in the City and County of Swansea.
Poverty Truth Commissions bring people with lived experiences of poverty together with decision makers across public, private and voluntary sectors, ensuring that any programme of poverty alleviation hears directly from those who have either lived in poverty or continue to do so.
Swansea Council agreed to establish a commission in 2019 but the pandemic delayed its launch until October 2022. At the launch, the eleven community commissioners shared their lived experiences of poverty with civic and business leaders who had been invited to join the commission.
In letters from Sioned Williams and Luke Fletcher, the current poverty landscape within the two local authorities were highlighted, as well as suggestions made in the report Time for Change – Poverty in Wales, published by Audit Wales. The report outlines Poverty Truth Commissions as one way in which local authorities can gain a better understanding of people’s experiences of poverty to ensure that services are designed and delivered in a way that is more appropriate and reflective of need.
Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Spokesperson for Social Justice and Equalities, said:
“Over seventy years since the founding of the modern welfare state, far too many in our communities are experiencing poverty and deprivation.
“Though Plaid Cymru has made some positive steps through the Co-operation Agreement with the Welsh Government to introduce policies, such as the extension of free school meals to all primary school children, that can help reduce some of the impacts of poverty, we know that much more needs to be done at every level to address this ongoing and embedded injustice.
“Poverty Truth Commissions provide an opportunity to bring people around the table to discuss the realities of poverty and use the expertise of people with lived experience of poverty to co-design systems that will help to reduce or eliminate its worst effects.”
Luke Fletcher MS, Plaid Cymru Spokesperson for the Economy, said:
“I represent communities that consistently rank high on indexes of deprivation and see people struggling every day.
“Through engagement with a variety of community organisations and stakeholders – from community pantries to local educators – I know that the situation is hand to mouth for so many of our constituents.
“It should be a source of shame that so many people are having to go without the essentials. I frequently hear from students dropping out of education because they can’t afford the costs of staying on; from families forced to live in poor quality housing; from parents unable to put food on the table for their children and families. People of all ages are struggling to make ends meet.
“It is the voices of people with these experiences, who are on the frontline when it comes to dealing with these issues, that must be heard. They are the experts and deserve to be in the room when decisions are made about the services they rely on. Poverty Truth Commissions can go some way to ensure that.”