March 2022 in the Senedd

Democracy Senedd debating chamber
Courtesy Senedd Cymru
NewsApril 4th, 2022

In another high-impact month, the Bevan Foundation’s work has made a significant contribution to debate in the Senedd in March.

The Bevan Foundation’s independent insights have informed debate in all aspects of the Senedd’s work over March 2022.  As before, our insights contributed to debate about the cost of living, but we were also pleased to contribute to debate about Local Housing Allowance, Welsh benefits, childcare and fair work. 

Cost of living

The Bevan Foundation’s survey of how people are managing proved very popular. On 1st March 2022, in a Plenary Statement on Period Dignity, the Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt MS, quoted the findings from the Bevan Foundation’s most recent ‘snapshot of poverty’ survey.  A week later, the Minister for Finance, Rebecca Evans MS, mentioned the same findings when introducing the motion on Welsh Rates of Income Tax.  In the debate on the Welsh Government’s final budget the same day, Jenny Rathbone MS quoted the Bevan Foundation’s State of Wales briefing on household spending.

On 15th March 2022, in the Senedd’s ‘Questions without Notice’, Buffy Williams MS asked “What assessment has the Welsh Government made of the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on communities in South Wales Central?”  The First Minister replied by saying that:

Recent analysis by organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Bevan Foundation and the Resolution Foundation have each concluded that the coming year will be particularly challenging for those households on low incomes.

The following day’s ‘questions without notice’ in Senedd questions for the Minister for Social Justice, Janet Finch Saunders MS mentioned the joint statement by the Bevan Foundation, Age Cymru, Citizens Advice Cymru, Care and Repair Cymru, National Energy Action Cymru, Oxfam Cymru and the Older People’s Commissioner calling for the Winter Fuel Support Scheme to be extended to people in receipt of Pension Credit.

She was followed by Sioned Williams MS asking ‘What assessment has the Minister made of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on children? The Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt MS, replied:

Recent analysis by organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Bevan Foundation and Children in Wales has found that households with children are amongst the hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis. Lone parents and their children have been particularly affected.

Following on from Sioned Williams’ question, Luke Fletcher MS said:

I’m sure the Minister is aware of the work by the Bevan Foundation on the Welsh benefits system. Their analysis of the current situation is that although the Welsh Government has provided unprecedented levels of support, efforts are undermined by the complex way in which support is administered. The foundation suggests that a low-income family with two children would have to present nine different application forms. … I ask the Minister to accelerate the Government’s work in this area. We need a more co-ordinated system in place now that provides support for those that need it most as soon as possible.

Later the same day, in the Plaid Cymru debate on the cost of living, Luke Fletcher MS cited the Bevan Foundation’s work on Education Maintenance Allowance.

Local Housing Allowance

We are delighted that Leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price MS, endorsed the Bevan Foundation’s report on Local Housing Allowance in Plenary on 29th March. He said:

The Bevan Foundation has recently strongly made the case for the devolution of power over housing benefit and the housing element of housing credit as a matter of urgency. Why? Because this would allow the Welsh Government to move from a model that essentially subsidises rent to a model that subsidises social housing supply, which is ultimately the only answer to the question.

In the Local Government and Housing Committee on 30th March, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said that the Bevan Foundation’s report on LHA is ‘very interesting and very useful, but it’s a difficult read in the sense that one sees the challenges facing people, particularly with the cost of housing.’

He asked that the Committee make representations to the Westminster Government about the impact of LHA on devolved housing matters, and asked it the Committee could discuss it. Carolyn Thomas MS supported Mabon ap Gwynfor’s request and suggested the Bevan Foundation be invited to make a presentation to the Committee.

Welsh benefits system

The plethora of different devolved benefits was raised by John Griffiths MS in the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister on 31st March. He said:

‘The Bevan Foundation has highlighted that low-income households need to complete a number of different application forms, and I know Welsh Government has been working with local authorities in Wales to try and streamline and ease that difficulty. Could you tell us how much progress has been made with those efforts and that work?’

Childcare

On 30th March 2022, the Senedd debated the report of the Equality and Social Justice Committee’s inquiry into childcare to which we had given evidence ourselves as well as supporting two groups of people with experience of migration to contribute. We were pleased that the Chair of the Committee, Jenny Rathbone MS, quoted some of the Bevan Foundation’s evidence in the debate:

The Bevan Foundation reported that even awareness of the 10 hours of universal provision for three- and four-year-olds is low.

It was all the better because some of the people we had worked with were able to visit the Senedd, watch the debate and meet the Minister for Social Justice afterwards.

Fair Work

On 3rd March 2022, Bevan Foundation Director joined the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee for an hour long session on fair work in the retail and hospitality sectors. In the session, she drew on some of the key findings from the Foundation’s work in those industries, and also set out some of our proposals for reform. The transcript of the session is here.

The Bevan Foundation makes its work available to Senedd Members from all parties on the same basis. 

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