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Lucy Stone says farewell to the Bevan Foundation

March 29th 2019

On her last day at the Bevan Foundation, Lucy Stone explains why we are Wales’ most influential think tank.

Today is my last day at the Bevan Foundation – the think tank that calls itself Wales’ most influential think tank. So, what better way to bid them farewell than to write an article about why this statement is 100% true. Here are just a few examples.

We are agenda setting

Now this is something most think tanks claim, but in this case it’s true. The Bevan Foundation were one of the first organisations in Wales to do work on Welsh taxes. At the time this was met with scepticism and doubt – people, including politicians, were not convinced that Wales could have its own taxes. However, in true Bevan Foundation spirit, we kept going and published a report in June 2016 outlining eight possible devolved taxes, tax credits and levies which have since been considered by the powers to be.

Our recent work on immigration policy has been met with similar uncertainty. At first when I spoke about making post-Brexit immigration policy work for Wales people, again including politicians, assumed this meant having a ‘hard border’ between Wales and the rest of the UK. But in reality, it means Wales having more powers over immigration, whether that’s through regional variations within a UK immigration system or having its own immigration policy. When we started this project immigration policy was scarlessly mentioned in Wales. Now the Welsh Government and other organisations in Wales are beginning to speak out for some changes to the UK Governments proposed new immigration policy. In fact, last week Jeremy Miles, Brexit Minister, called for the minimum earning threshold for Tier 2 visas to drop from £30,000 to £20,000 to better reflect the average earnings in Wales – something we have been advocating for a while.

We are independent but influential

We are not and have never been funded by the Welsh Government, nor do we favour any one political party. Last week we were at Plaid Cymru’s spring conference promoting a fairer Wales and in April we’ll be doing the same at the Welsh Labour conference. We also publish thought provoking articles from Assembly Members in Exchange, our supporter magazine, recently publishing articles by the First Minister, Sian Gwenllian AM and Suzy Davies AM.

Although we do not favour one political party, we do work with them to help create change. Over the years we’ve met with a number of Ministers, Assembly Members from all parties and civil servants about the work that we are doing. We are listened to and well respected by decision makers in Wales. But that’s not to say that we don’t speak out when we see injustices. That’s why being independent is important to us – we are a voice for those who are not heard. Last year we called out the Welsh Government for scrapping school uniform grants, resulting in the Welsh Government launching the new Pupil Development Grant – and that’s just one example of how influential we are.

We are passionate about what we do

I’m not just saying this about myself, but about the whole Bevan Foundation team. We are passionate about what we do, passionate about making a difference in Wales, about making Wales a nation of prosperity, equality and justice. As a team we go above and beyond for what we believe in. This is more than a job to us. We don’t switch the computer off at 5pm and not think about work for the rest of the day. Our work stays with us. We think about how to make Wales fairer morning, noon and night, at weekends and even when we are on holiday (no joke).

So, when we say that we are passionate about changing Wales – we really are.

I know this all sounds incredibly cheesy but it’s true. We are a small team that packs a big punch and I know that the Bevan Foundation will continue achieving great things long after I’ve left. But they can only achieve great things with support – your support and my support. That’s why I will keep on supporting this amazing organisation for many years to come. If you’d like to join me in supporting the Bevan Foundation, please click here.

Lucy Stone is policy and research officer at the Bevan Foundation.

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