In Brief

Nearly a quarter of Wales's population 'living in poverty'

Around 700,000 people live in households where income is less than 60 per cent of average, says report

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Nearly a quarter of people in Wales are "struggling to make ends meet" and living below the poverty line, a new study says.

The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Bevan Foundation, a Welsh think-tank, suggests poverty is costing the country around £3.6bn a year through additional public spending on health, education, social care and police and criminal justice services.

That amount equates to a fifth of the Welsh government's annual budget and £1,150 for every person living in Wales.

In the three years to 2014-15, an average of 700,000 people, equal to 23 per cent of the population, were in poverty, defined as having a household income less than 60 per cent of the nationwide median.

Compared with a decade ago, there are fewer children and pensioners living below this level, says The Guardian, but more people of working age now meet the definition.

One factor is the rise in underemployment in the region, with 17 per cent of part-time workers wanting to work more hours but unable to do so.

The report "raises concern the crisis may grow when the UK leaves the EU because of the funding Wales receives from Brussels".

The two foundations provide a series of suggestions for alleviating the problem, including creating an enterprise zone covering the whole of the south Wales valleys.

The Labour-controlled Welsh government says it is working hard to address poverty.

Nationalists Plaid Cymru claim the findings show the UK government's austerity measures are not working. They say the report should be a wake-up call for the political establishment in Cardiff and London.

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