A NEW report reveals that child poverty in Pembrokeshire is the second-highest of any county in Wales.

The analysis by the End Child Poverty Coalition found that levels in the county had gone up by 1.9 per cent since 2014, to 21.4 per cent overall on the latest 2018-19 figures, a number only topped by Blaenau Gwent, at 22 per cent.

Carmarthenshire saw a 0.9 per cent rise to 19.5 per cent, while Ceredigion saw the highest rise in Wales, up by 3.1 per cent – from 17.2 per cent to 20.3 per cent.

Across Wales as a whole from 2014-15 to 2019, the report found child poverty fell 0.2 per cent to 18.1 per cent.

Even before the devastating impact of Covid-19 on household incomes, since 2014 around one in five children living in Wales have been experiencing poverty and as a result the devastating effects it can bring.

The End Child Poverty coalition says it fears the issues will continue to deepen as the virus pulls more and more families below the poverty line.

The group are now calling on both Welsh and UK Government to take action and to commit to an ambitious strategy to immediately increase the amount of money in families’ pockets.

The coalition of 70 UK charities, faith groups, unions and community organisations worked with researchers at Loughborough University to analyse Government data over the last four years, even before housing costs are taken into account.

Mark Russell, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “These figures show that future generations are being let down by a continued failure to stop the rising levels of child poverty across parts of Wales and the UK.

“We know that without further action the current pandemic is only going to exacerbate this issue, leaving even more families struggling with poverty, hunger and hardship.

“We are delighted that the Welsh Government have responded to the pandemic with additional investment in the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) which provides help for those facing financial crisis, as well as allowing for greater flexibility for accessing the DAF.

“It is crucial that this new support is now communicated far and wide to anyone who might be in need of financial assistance.”

Anna Feuchtwang, Chair of End Child Poverty, said: “We may all be experiencing the storm of coronavirus together, but we are not all in the same boat. The government’s data shows the extent to which over the past four years, children in low income families have been cut adrift and are already experiencing unacceptable hardship through cuts and freezes to the benefits system.

“Our country’s children are now at severe risk of being swept deeper into poverty as a result of the pandemic and lockdown. This is why we are asking the government to strengthen the social security system which is there to hold us steady during tough times, by immediately increasing household income for those least well-off.

“Ending child poverty must be at the heart of the Government’s plan for economic recovery.”

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “Child poverty figures are primarily influenced by earned income and benefit levels for families - factors beyond the control of local authorities.

“We have recognised that this is an increasing issue across the county, and we are working to spread the reach of our family support services across all areas of Pembrokeshire.

“We are also one of a very few councils that still maintains a discretionary scheme (PDG Access Plus) to help low-income families with educational costs, such as school uniform and equipment.”