Poverty doesn’t just affect job-seekers
The Welsh Government discussion document “Employment and Skills Delivery 2014 – 2020” sees the forthcoming ESF programme as an opportunity to help individuals out of poverty by giving them the skills to get jobs. There is a pressing need for this to happen and we welcome the clear articulation of the proposed approach in the discussion document.
This concentrated focus on skills for work may, however, have a detrimental impact on some people in Wales’ most deprived communities, and on the organisations that currently support them. ESF has previously been used to support activities that help mitigate the impact of poverty on communities. There is a clear need for these activities to continue. But it is not obvious how continued funding fits with the proposed ESF framework. Is the suggestion that these tackling poverty activities are no longer a priority, or will they be funded from another source?
The emphasis in the discussion document on people who are looking for work raises further questions about what will be done to tackle poverty amongst those who are not in this category. It is not clear what will be done about poverty amongst older people, for example. The recent JRF research into poverty in Wales highlighted in-work poverty as a key issue in Wales: it seems that this will not be addressed by the proposed ESF arrangements. There are other groups of people for whom employment is not a practical route out of poverty, for example carers. Can the final ESF framework accommodate action to help non-jobseekers, or will they be supported in other ways?