December in the Senedd

Bevan Foundation Senedd debating chamber
Courtesy Senedd Cymru
NewsJanuary 4th, 2022

Find out how we informed debate and shaped policy in the Welsh Parliament in December. 

The Bevan Foundation’s independent analysis and inspiring ideas have once again featured strongly in the Senedd. As well as Members of the Senedd from all parties mentioning the Bevan Foundation, several MSs also drew heavily on our reports and briefings without mentioning us by name. 

Household debt

On 1st December, the Plaid Cymru debate was about the Bevan Foundation’s report on household debt. The motion not only recognised the Bevan Foundation’s findings but also called for several of our recommendations to be implemented, notably for legislation to require public bodies to prevent debt. The motion in full was:

  1. Notes the Bevan Foundation’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on household debt.
  2. Notes the rising prices of utilities bills.
  3. Notes the Welsh Government written statement on support for the winter fuel support scheme and household living costs.
  4. Calls on the UK Government to reform the rural fuel duty relief scheme and increase in fuel duty in areas which have received above UK average public investment in public transport infrastructure.
  5. Calls on the Welsh Government to:
  6. a) work with local authorities to clear some of the significant council tax arrears that have been built up over the course of the pandemic;
  7. b) work with the UK Government to establish a consistent baseline of support by energy suppliers for indebted customers;
  8. c) explore the possibility of legislation that would place a duty on all public bodies, including schools and colleges, to prevent debt.

In moving the motion, Sioned Williams MS cited the Bevan Foundation’s findings as did Mark Isherwood MS.  Jane Hutt MS said, in response, that

‘I agree with the Bevan Foundation’s assessment that, sadly, debt levels across Wales will increase in the coming months.’

The motion was passed by 40 votes to 14, which means that the Welsh Government will begin to consider our key proposal of a public duty to prevent debt.

Free School Meals

On 7th December, we were delighted that the Cooperation Agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru included action to deliver several of the policy proposals advocated by the Bevan Foundation. In the debate in plenary, Sioned Williams MS cited the Bevan Foundation’s work on Free School Meals.

On 8th December, the Plaid Cymru debate focused on food poverty. In a lively debate, the Minister for Social Justice commented that the Bevan Foundation and other organisations provided vital evidence on the incidence of poverty. She also mentioned the Welsh Government’s intention to follow up on several Bevan Foundation recommendations including increasing the take up of healthy start vouchers, increasing the budget for and flexibility of the Discretionary Assistance Fund, and extending free school meals to all primary pupils.


Education Maintenance Allowance

The Bevan Foundation has been calling for an increase in Education Maintenance Allowance for some time.  We were pleased that on 14th December, Luke Fletcher MS asked the First Minister ‘What assessment has the Welsh Government made of the impact of the education maintenance allowance?’.

In response, Mark Drakeford MS said that:

“I’ve seen the Bevan Foundation report, of course, about the fact that were we to uplift the EMA to maintain its real-terms value we’d need to go to £45.”

He went on to say that the cost of the changes advocated by the Foundation would be over £10 million a year and that ‘choices have to be made.’


Snapshot of poverty

On 15th December, the Bevan Foundation’s work was the subject of a question by Vikki Howells MS to the Minister for Finance and Local Government. Ms Howells asked:

How else is the Welsh Government working with local authorities to support their communities over the coming period, especially in light of the Bevan Foundation’s findings that nearly two in five Welsh households are unable to afford more than the basics?

The Minister responded that:

‘the Bevan Foundation report was a difficult read, really, in terms of ensuring that we do understand the level of pressures that many families are facing’




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