Thursday, 1 March 2012
The cuts imposed on people in Wales by the Westminster Coalition will not only be brutal but will affect us to a greater extent than any other country in the UK.
Welfare reform will increase poverty. It will undermine the Welsh Government’s stated policy aim of reducing child poverty, wiping out the gains made over the last decade. By 2012-13, the Welsh Government has estimated the reforms could increase cases of relative child poverty in Wales by around 6,000. Plaid Cymru has said over and over that it is not right that the poorest people pay for the mistakes of the bankers. Yet that is what is happening.
A coaltion of charities produced their Cuts Watch Cymru report this week, which shows how the cuts are impacting on people in Wales. The worst of the cuts are yet to come, but so far, there has been a 38% increase in the numbers of people applying for a crisis loan since 2007 and a 40% increase in the numbers of people going to loan sharks. The Welsh Government is powerless to protect people against these cuts. There are a number of recommendations in the report which could help to provide a buffer against the worst effects of the cuts, but it is inevitable that Wales will be hit hard while so many people here depend on welfare payments.
The welfare safety net we have all become used to will not be there in the future. That is why we must now have a plan to increase the numbers of people in work, to reduce the numbers of people reliant on the ever-reducing welfare/public expenditure pot. If we want good welfare provision in Wales, and I believe most people do, then we will have to show that we can pay for it.
I have advocated bringing together all the best talents in this country to consult widely on a long term plan to create jobs, jobs, jobs. These jobs should be created as part of the building a new 'social economy' which puts people before shareholder profit and which is designed to turn around our ailing and disadvantaged economy, to bring prosperity to all parts of Wales. These outcomes will not happen by accident. No one person or party has all of the answers and a plan like this could only work if people are prepared to think long term, breaking out of the short term thinking that comes with four year election terms. It won't be an easy job. It'll be a huge challenge, but do we have an alternative?
Happy St. David's Day.