The PCS has called for New Labour's welfare reforms to be scrapped following James Purnell's resignation from the Cabinet last week. According to Mark Serwotka, Purnell presided over "one of the worst periods in the history of our welfare state". He has made job cuts and forced office closures provoking anger and worry amongst the DWP workforce.
I have previously campaigned against DWP job cuts, and Plaid has consistently opposed moves to introduce a US-style "workfare" system in the UK. Purnell's programme of privatisation and job cuts has been an attempt to lay the foundations for a shrinking and less expensive welfare state. That this has been initiated under a Labour government is appalling. Not even Thatcher went this far. Now there is an ideal opportunity to reverse the reforms started under Purnell preventing needless further damage.
I raised welfare reform with the First Minister on Tuesday but am still calling on the new Minster for Department of Work and Pensions to take the appropriate action. It is clear that in Wales both Plaid Cymru and the Labour party are against these plans. We are in a damaging situation where the Welsh Government's work to help people into jobs (which has been relatively successful) and to encourage the take-up of benefits amongst vulnerable groups will be undermined by the UK Government's more draconian approach, the effectiveness of which is far from certain because of the economic climate.
We know that a Tory government will go even further than Purnell's plans. That's why I fully support Mark Serwotka and the PCS in their call for welfare reform to be dropped now.