Welsh jobs creation must be at heart of £227m spending
Party of Wales leader Leanne Wood has repeated calls for investment in the economy, warning that Wales faces a challenging 2013 because of the stagnant economy and benefit cuts and centralisation proposals in health and education.
She said that the £227m capital boost announced in the Autumn Statement should be used to stimulate the Welsh economy, using local procurement to create jobs and invest in skills in Welsh communities.
Leanne Wood also said that the Welsh Assembly needs the powers to be a shield against the Westminster government’s benefit cuts which will hit Wales this year.
She also warned that both education and health face a difficult year, saying that Plaid Cymru would not support centralisation proposals that were not evidence-based.
The Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood said:
“As I said when I was elected as Plaid Cymru’s leader, the economy is my priority because without jobs people can have no security.
“With the economy still flatlining, capital spending means not just jobs now, but building for a better future as well and a growing economy.
“The Welsh Government getting an extra £227m in its capital budget doesn’t make up for the huge cuts that we have faced, and are still facing, but it is a help.
“Plaid Cymru would like to see this used in projects which are both sustainable, so beneficial to the environment as well as the economy, and local so that money can be locked into local areas and create jobs within communities.
“More than 100,000 are employed in construction in Wales, so this is a hugely important sector for our economic recovery.
“However, even after the law making powers vote in 2011, our National Assembly is still not strong enough to be the shield that people need.
“Changes to social security will kick in this year - housing benefit, below inflation benefit rises and council tax benefit cuts and with a higher proportion of people in Wales on benefits than in the other nations, this has a more substantial impact here than elsewhere.
“A Comprehensive Spending Review is due in the next few months, so it is vital that the Welsh Government stands up against Westminster.
“That is why we were so disappointed by the Welsh Government’s failure to protect the poor and the vulnerable by taking the council tax hit themselves – as we proposed last April.
“This will also be a difficult year in the fields of education and health policy with the Welsh Government proposing various forms of centralisation.
“We will oppose these changes where we see them as being un-necessary and where the evidence does not justify the proposals.
“Through 2013, as in 2012, Plaid Cymru will be the only party challenging and scrutinising both Welsh and Westminster governments - without fear or favour.”