Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Action on the Credit Crunch
Leanne Wood: The biggest issue facing all of us is the potential fall-out from the credit crunch. It has been predicted that unemployment will reach 2 million UK-wide by Christmas. As well as losing jobs, people are likely to lose their homes, pensions and public services. Private finance initiative and housing stock transfer schemes will cost much more than we first thought, and £500 billion was allocated to rescue the banks last week. In addition to that local authorities have lost money in Icelandic banks. All of that will put pressure on public services.
Carwyn Jones: It is difficult to have a debate along those lines without crystallising it around some proposals. To suggest a way forward, an all-Wales economic summit has been arranged for Thursday to discuss the current financial crisis. It will be chaired by the First Minister and attended by the Deputy First Minister and the Secretary of State. It will bring together the leaders of some of Wales’s top companies, trade unionists and others from key economic sectors in Wales such as construction, retail and financial services. The purpose of the summit is to listen at first hand to the difficulties that already exist or that are anticipated in the months and years to come and then for the Government to formulate a way forward.
Action has already been taken in the draft budget announced last week. More than £290million has been allocated to fund the Flexible Support for Business programme. We have also, recently, introduced a £7 million package of rate relief to help smaller businesses. It is important that we try to gain, at first hand, the views and experiences of businesses before considering what we might do to assist them and before we see what might be done to give Members an opportunity to engage in the issues.