JUST under 30 per cent of children in Wales are living in poverty, a new report by the Welsh Government says – and its set to rise as a result of Brexit.

The report, which analysed the Family Resource Survey, blames a decade of austerity cuts and welfare reforms instigated by the UK Government.

“It [the report] also shows that many of the most important levers to lift children and families out of poverty are not in our hands,” said Julie James, who is responsible for co-ordinating Welsh Government action to tackle child poverty.

“As a UN report recently highlighted, a decade of UK Government-driven austerity, and tax and welfare reforms, have landed most damagingly on those who are least able to manage.

Ms James, who is also Minister for Housing and Local Government, added: “In addition, we are already feeling the repercussions of our decision to leave the European Union and expect to see levels of poverty in Wales increase as a result.”

The report said that the Welsh Government’s Child Poverty Strategy – which includes actions to create a strong economy, tackle worklessness, improve skills, tackle inequalities and increase household income – are mitigating the impact of poverty.

Policies such as free prescriptions, free school meals, the education maintenance allowance (EMA) and a generous childcare offer, means some Welsh families are more than £2,000 a year better off, the report concluded.

It said that Wales’ employment rate is above its historical average, with more than 264,000 more people in work since 1999.

The number of workless households in Wales has fallen more than 18 per cent, from 223,000 to 182,000, since devolution and the number of children living in workless households has fallen from 100,600 in 2010 (18.8 per cent) to 68,700 in 2018 (12.6 per cent).

Ms James added: “We have always made tackling child poverty a priority and we have made significant resources available to help those children and families most in need.

“But despite the progress we have made, this report shows just how much more there is to do.

“For many people work alone is not enough to lift families out of poverty. This is largely due to a combination of the impact of UK Government-driven austerity cuts and tax and welfare reforms combined with the rise in insecure, low paid work in recent years.

“We want to see child poverty reducing – not increasing. We will continue to do everything we can to tackle poverty and its toxic effects.”