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Bevan Foundation welcomes Senedd Economy Committee report into recovery from COVID-19

March 5th 2021

This week the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee published its report into recovery from the pandemic, echoing many of our recommendations.

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The Bevan Foundation submitted written and oral evidence to the Committee in 2020 which outlined our views about the impacts of COVID-19 on different groups and parts of the economy. We advocated a recovery which resets the economy to one that is more fair, inclusive and resilient. Its final report has found that while the long-term impact of the pandemic on the economy won’t be known for some time, it is clear that it has led to unprecedented damage, including 123,000 Welsh jobs being furloughed and a massive spike in the uptake of unemployment benefits. It says that during reconstruction and recovery the lessons of previous recessions must be learned and ensure that people who were already disadvantaged do not fall even further behind.

Giving evidence to the Committee towards the end of last year, Helen Cunningham expressed concern that the effects of the pandemic have not been felt equally and that people with few or no qualifications are at the sharp end of the impacts. Speaking about a COVID recovery she said:

There needs to be a focus on those workers with lower level skills and qualifications for two reasons. Firstly they’re at greater risk of displacement in the first instance and secondly investment in them tends to deliver bigger returns for the investment in their upskilling. There’s a very strong case for a focus on people at the lower end of the skills and qualifications spectrum.

She told committee members that the response should be a tailored skills programme that is flexible enough to meet the different needs that workers in different places have.

Amongst the committee’s fifty-three recommendations are a Programme for Government that puts skills at its heart, a green recovery that invests in green infrastructure, natural infrastructure and decarbonisation, one that supports payment of the Real Living Wage and a Youth Opportunity Guarantee for 16-24 year olds.

We are pleased to see the Committee’s report is so wide ranging. We hope the current and future Welsh Government take the Committee’s recommendations into account in delivering a COVID-19 recovery to create a fairer Wales where no one is left behind.

Helen Cunningham is a policy and research officer and leads our work on economic resilience. You can follow Helen on Twitter at @cunninghamhel

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