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Solving Poverty in Wales: Party Leadership Candidates Special with Adam Price AM

September 10th 2018

Today it is the turn of those standing to be leader of Plaid Cymru to share their views on poverty in Wales. The second candidate is Adam Price AM. Here are his ideas on how to solve poverty in Wales.

 

Independence will give us the power to abolish all forms of poverty once and for all by allowing us to enshrine economic rights – to a job, to a decent income, to be housed and fed – in the constitution of our country.

However, there is much that we could do now.

As First Minister I would want our Government to end the scourge of out-sourcing driving poverty wages by setting a ‘parity policy’ for all public procurement:  with wages and conditions of private sector employees delivering public sector contracts equivalent to in-house public sector workers.  This should end the race to the bottom of contracting out.

Powers over business rates, council tax and a share of income tax are already devolved, and there is also an agreement on a system for proposing new taxes. Wales could lead the way with a radical shift in the burden of taxation from paid employment to unearned wealth.  Introducing a National Land Value Tax (excluding farmland) would also allow us to abolish Council Tax – the most regressive tax in Wales, which levies almost four times as much as a proportion of wealth on the poorest as the richest.

Eradicating involuntary unemployment is the first step in rebuilding self-confidence for those currently excluded from the labour market. The idea of a Job Guarantee has emerged as a key idea in the Democratic Party in the US.   I would want a Plaid Cymru Welsh Government to offer a secure job at a living wage to anyone unemployed for more than 90 days who wants to work but cannot find employment starting with economically deprived areas like the Heads of the Valleys and the Rural West and for 18-24 year olds throughout Wales.  . Women are far more likely to live in poverty than men so we also need to make sure that barriers to women’s employment are eliminated, through wider investments in childcare, adult social care and public transport,

Wales should also have responsibility for welfare powers to enable us to protect our most vulnerable citizens from Westminster. This would allow us to introduce the kind of income supplement currently being proposed in Scotland. However, even without further devolution we could massively expanding social prescribing within the Welsh NHS to allow doctors to offer healthy, nutritious food vouchers to hungry children and others suffering food insecurity.  Building a National Energy Company would allow us to tackle fuel poverty, by offering cheaper electricity directly and investing in a mass roll-out of the solar roof and storage technology pioneered in Wales by SPECIFIC.

We should establish local authority run prevention chains, linking all the various agencies involved in the life of a child from cradle to career, as pioneered in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia,  to reduce the effect of poverty in producing “adverse childhood experiences”.  For children in need this would mean support is synchronised and personalised (contrast the pupil premium which is silo’d and institutional) and focused particularly on transitions e.g. from primary to secondary, and from school to work.

We cannot pretend to have all the answers now.  That is why we should adopt an evidence-based, experimental approach, trialling and testing new ideas and then scaling up those that prove successful, always mindful that what works in one area may not replicate elsewhere. I’d like to see an equivalent of Harvard’s Poverty Action Lab or Stanford’s Technology and Poverty Lab setting up shop in the world’s first Social Science Park currently being built here in Wales.   As a small nation we can’t expect to be world-beating at ever thing, but beating poverty seems like a good place to start.

 

 

 

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