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Rural deprivation must not be ignored - Mark Williams

October 20, 2009 3:01 PM

Ceredigion's Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams has expressed hisconcern after a new report found that deprived children in rural areaswere not getting access to services that were being provided to deprivedchildren in urban areas.

The report, 'Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in Rural Wales',released by the End Child Poverty Network Cymru found that children inrural areas had problems accessing services such as after-school clubs,certain health services and other schemes. They also found that theseproblems were exacerbated by poor public transport networks, which madeit difficult for them to attend things like Young Farmers and the Urdd.

They also highlighted other areas that are known to present particulardifficulties in rural areas, such as a lack of affordable housing andfuel poverty.

The report also gave examples of areas of good practice, such asCeredigion NPHS's Condom Card Scheme, which provides young people withinformation about access and support for sexual health advice. Theyalso highlighted Ceredigion's decision to fund teachers to attendHealthy Schools Scheme training days.

The report set out a list of recommendations, which included severalactions to improve working practices between Welsh Assembly Governmentdepartments and improved 'rural-proofing' of policies. They alsorecommended that rural issues are given full attention when the AssemblyGovernment's National Child Poverty Strategy is revised and that localauthorities are given clear guidance.

Commenting, Mark Williams said:

"Issues of rural deprivation are often missed by central government, andwhile the Welsh Assembly Government are generally better at identifyingthese issues than the UK Government, this report shows there are stillgaps.

"A lack of public transport makes it hard for many to get involved inafter school activities and clubs, and this report highlights the realconcern that children in Ceredigion and other parts of rural Wales arenot getting all of the support they need.

"Communities First does a great job of identifying areas of particularneed, but there are areas that don't qualify for Communities First whichnevertheless face significant deprivation, and perhaps do no get theattention they deserve.

"I am pleased that the report highlights areas of good practice,including those in Ceredigion, which serves to show that services can beprovided over large sparsely populated rural areas.

"I would strongly encourage the Welsh Assembly Government to considerthese recommendations, so that we can build on the work being done tofight rural deprivation."