Cardiff Council has an ambition for the city to be recognised as a Child-Friendly City.

It is a UNICEF UK initative and the council has a Child Friendly Cardiff website. It asks ‘Do you have an idea or suggestion on how we can make Cardiff a Child Friendly City?’ 

Well, getting serious about reducing child poverty should be on the list.

Take South Riverside where 55 per cent of children are growing up in poverty, the highest proportion in Wales. Yes, over half of children living in an area that is a stone’s throw away from the centre of our capital are growing up in poverty.

This is bad enough, but this issue is not restricted to South Riverside. Six of the 10 neighbourhoods with the highest rates of child poverty in Wales are in Cardiff’s ‘southern arc’. And these statistics are based on income before housing costs so are probably understating the actual situation for households and the children in those households.

Child poverty is something that should concern us as an issue in and of itself, particularly given the cost-of-living crisis. But it also has implications in so many areas. To take just one example - analysis shows that experiencing poverty as a child hugely increases the likelihood of becoming homeless as an adult. 

Two recent stories in the press made me think about some of the issues facing our city. 

The first is the planning permission given for 700 flats on the Brains Brewery site. Just £600,000 will be contributed to affordable housing from this very large development – equivalent to three or four flats. Yet another ‘prestigious’ development bordering the terraces of Riverside that will have little positive impact on that community.

The second story is the changes to rubbish bag provision away from the Council supplying bags to homes that cannot have wheelie bins, to people having to buy their own, saving the Council £50,000.

That cost will now be picked up by households across the city at the very time when the costs of basics are rocketing.

Many homes that do not have wheelie bins are in poorer areas of higher density housing. I guess we will now have bin bag poverty to add to child poverty, fuel poverty, food poverty, period poverty, clothing poverty etc.

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Perhaps Cardiff Council could follow some other Welsh councils in adding their own resources to those of the Department of Work and Pensions to maximise Discretionary Housing Payments and the Welsh Government to maximise the impact of the Cost of Living Support Scheme.

To quote journalist, Will Hayward: "As the city develops we can’t ignore the poverty which is quite literally hiding in plain sight in the heart of the Welsh capital. If we do, we undermine everything we seek to achieve by creating a Cardiff, and indeed a Wales, fit to go into the rest of the 21st century."

Tamsin Stirling is Cardiff Civic Society's lead on housing and social justice

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