Tackling Inequality And Poverty in South Wales

The South Wales Equality Group is one of our most active and long-established affiliated groups. They have activists across south Wales with their main centres of support being in Newport and Swansea. Recently, the group submitted a very useful response to Swansea Council’s consultation on its poverty strategy.
Gideon Calder from the group commented that the response is “very much in the spirit of The Equality Trust’s Fairness Four asks, made at the council elections in May this year, but with an added element about inter-generational inequality”. Two key parts of the response to the council’s questions are shown here:

Q. If you disagree with [whether the strategy is based on robust evidence of what works, and makes clear links to economic policy] please tell us why:

The strategy is stronger on the effects of poverty, than its causes. It neglects the extent to which poverty is primarily an effect of economics, and specifically of income. It neglects, for example, the fact that the majority of children in poverty live in a family where at least one parent works. Poverty is crucially relative, not simply absolute. A crucial part of poverty reduction is preventative measures focused chiefly on raising pay for the worst off, and narrowing pay differentials between the worst and best off. The Council could commit to evaluating the likely impact of its policies on socio-economic inequality. A policy to promote the (genuine) Living Wage, and to decrease the pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid (e.g. at Swansea Council, as an exemplar) would be directly effective. The Council could take clear steps to act in the spirit of the (never commenced) Socio-Economic Duty in section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, as the Scottish Government is doing, and as various councils (e.g. Newcastle-upon-Tyne) have done.

Q. Is there anything that you feel should have been included in Our Vision:

A commitment to reducing income inequality in Swansea.  This is crucial to the attainment of the other goals listed.  This might have five components.  
1. A commitment to evaluating the likely impact of Council policies on socio-economic inequality.  
2. A commitment to promoting the Living Wage, and raising the wage floor.  
3. A commitment to narrowing the pay gap between the highest and lowest paid employees at Swansea Council.  
4. A commitment to addressing living costs for the worst off.  
5. And a specific commitment to reducing inter-generational inequality and child poverty in Swansea.

The Equality Trust is hugely proud of the work our affiliated local groups do in tackling inequality across the UK. Submissions such as this are an excellent example of the real impact that local people can have when they are organised into an effective group. If you want to get involved in local group work and make a difference where you live, just contact us at info@equalitytrust.org.uk – thank you.

Bill Kerry – Supporters & Local Groups Manager