Informing Senedd debate in January 2023

Bevan Foundation Senedd debating chamber
Courtesy Senedd Cymru
NewsFebruary 6th, 2023

Find out how the Bevan Foundation informed debate in the Senedd in January 2023

The Bevan Foundation kicked off the year with a big impact in the Senedd, our work was mentioned in plenary and in several committees alongside Bevan Foundation staff giving oral evidence to two committees. The Foundation’s insights on the cost-of-living and benefits were drawn on heavily throughout the month.  

Giving Evidence  

On the 12th of January, the Bevan Foundation’s Director, Dr Victoria Winckler, gave evidence to the Finance Committee on the Welsh Government’s Draft Budget 2022-23. Her evidence touched on a variety of different policy areas including whether the Welsh Government’s draft budget allocations for free school meals, the discretionary assistance fund, social housing and many more topics are adequate. The evidence was later referenced in Plenary by Tom Grifford MS on the 18th of January.  

On the 30th of January, Head of Policy, Dr Steffan Evans gave evidence to the Equality and Social Justice Committee as part of their inquiry into debt and the cost-of-living crisis. He highlighted some of the findings from this winter’s ‘Snapshot of poverty’ report, and shared insights on a variety of issues including council tax arrears, Discretionary Housing Payments, rent arrears and the Educational Maintenance Allowance.  

Equality and Social Justice Committee 

The Foundation’s work was raised a number of times during meetings of the Equality and Social Justice Committee.  

On the 16th of January, Sarah Murphy MS raised a question as to what consideration had been given to the Foundation’s call for mean-tested grants to be increased with inflation from April 2023 as part of its cross-portfolio approach to tackling poverty.  

In response, the Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, stated that they are working with local government and the Bevan Foundation to develop a Welsh Benefits Charter to ensure that local authorities are improving benefit take-up and making the system easier to navigate.  

In discussing the aim to publish a child poverty strategy in Autumn 2023, Maureen Howell, a Welsh Government Official, outlined the importance of consulting the Bevan Foundation and other key stakeholders. Adding to this, Jane Hutt stated that the Foundation had emphasised the crucial importance of the healthy start voucher.  

Finance Committee 

The Minister for Social Justice was not the only Minister to make reference to our work on Welsh Benefits when appearing before committees this month. Giving evidence to the Finance Committee, the Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans MS made reference to the fact that the Bevan Foundation is leading on research into the barriers that are preventing people from taking up Welsh Benefits and exploring solutions.   

The same committee also drew attention to our work on the Education Maintenance Allowance, in particular our calls to increase its value. Appearing before the committee, Welsh Government official Emma Watkins gave an overview of the work that the Welsh Government were undertaking into looking at the cost implications of making such a commitment.  

Children, Young People and Education Committee 

Our work was also raised in the Children, Young People and Education Committee. During discussions on the Welsh Government’s child poverty strategy, Sioned Williams MS, echoed the Bevan Foundation’s call for an action plan to include clear timelines and expenditure commitments. 

Sioned Williams also raised the Foundation’s work in Plenary The member referenced the Foundation’s findings on fuel poverty in our most recent  ‘State of Wales Briefing’ on deep poverty and destitution, on the 25th of January. Raising our work, she asked how the impact of the Discretionary Assistance Fund on fuel poverty will be measured.  

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