Ahead of tomorrow’s (Wednesday) Budget, Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Leader Elfyn Llwyd MP has claimed that what little economic recovery we’re seeing is the “wrong kind of growth” driven by personal debt and a London housing boom, and that the Chancellor must announce a plan to genuinely rebalance the economy.
Mr Llwyd, whose party has consistently argued that investment is key to sustainable growth, said that while London and the South East races ahead, large parts of Wales and North East England remain in the grip of a cost of living crisis with families facing a fall in wages as food and fuel prices soar.
Speaking in London, Mr Llwyd said:
“We expect the Chancellor to announce that his government is successfully restoring economic growth and that the deficit is being tackled.
“In reality, the modest growth that we have seen so far is being driven by personal debt which has topped a staggering trillion pounds, and a London housing boom which has left the city with eye-watering average house prices of over £550,000.
“Plaid Cymru has repeatedly warned that this is the wrong kind of growth which is widening the gulf between rich and poor, leaving the UK with the damning status of being Europe’s most unequal state. What we are experiencing is a postcode recovery, with wealth per head in Inner West London twelve times greater than that in Anglesey.
“That is why we are putting forward a set of workable policies to help rebalance the economy and stop London from sucking wealth, resources and talent from the rest of the UK. An Economic Fairness Bill would prioritise funding for deprived areas, while a Financial Transaction Tax and reinstating the 50p top rate of income tax would raise billions to help tackle the deficit.
“Tax evasion and avoidance have long blighted the UK economy and if robust action was taken to end it, this would raise at least £35bn – the HMRC’s own conservative estimate. We would also scrap the wasteful Trident nuclear weapons arsenal which the First Minister has worryingly welcomed to Welsh shores. This would save £100bn over the system’s lifetime.
“The cost of living crisis is still hitting thousands of Welsh families hard and we want to see a fuel duty stabiliser introduced to tackle soaring transport costs, in addition to greater efforts to secure a living wage for workers on low incomes.
“Successive Tory and Labour governments in London have failed to balance the books without making the most vulnerable in society pay a heavy price for the failures of the banks.
“The Chancellor must now seize this opportunity to secure a recovery for all.”