Labour – Plaid budget deal helps low income families
The Bevan Foundation is delighted that the agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru includes commitments that we have campaigned for.
The Bevan Foundation has long argued that the Welsh Government could do much more to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life and opportunities of people on low incomes. We are delighted that the new Labour – Plaid deal, reported on Sunday 21st November, includes some important actions that will make a big difference to people struggling to make ends meet.
Key announcements are:
Extending the provision of free school meals to all primary school children
We have campaigned long and hard for more children to receive a free meal, to help with their families’ finances and to ensure they have a hot, nutritious meal. We are very pleased indeed that the Labour – Plaid deal means that all primary school children will get a free meal.
It remains to be seen how quickly the offer of a meal can be rolled out across schools – with pressure on families mounting we hope it is very soon. Sadly there as yet does not appear to be any provision for secondary school pupils who have to find the cost of lunch.
Nevertheless this is very welcome and will make a big difference to families on low incomes who do not qualify for a free meal at present.
Extending the childcare offer to 2-year-olds
We have also highlighted the major gaps in childcare provision and argued that extending the childcare offer to under-3-year-olds is critical to ensuring gender equality and reducing poverty.
As will free school meals, much remains to be announced in terms of the number of hours of care, whether it is restricted to people working 16-hours or more, and the speed of roll-out.
But this too is very welcome and will help thousands of parents.
Proposals for rent controls
We have recently revealed the affordability crisis facing tenants, especially in the private rental sector where less than one in twenty properties on the market are at or below Local Housing Allowance rates.
Rent controls are one of a number of possible solutions to the problem, although we wait to see the detail in due course. Nevertheless, this is a welcome recognition by the Welsh Government that the private rental market is simply too expensive for many people.
Local tourism tax
The Bevan Foundation has argued for several years that the Welsh Government’s power to introduce new devolved taxes should include a levy on visitors. We argued that the moneys raised reflect the costs that tourists impose on local communities and could go someway to offsetting the additional services they require.
As with the other points in the deal, the devil will be in the detail but the principle is very welcome.
We are proud that our insights and ideas have shaped these important announcements but there is still much more to do to increase equality and eradicate poverty.