Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards MP has called on the First Minister to urge Labour MPs from Wales to vote against Chancellor George Osborne’s proposed welfare cap in a vote on the Budget tomorrow (Wednesday).
The cap, if adopted, would stand regardless of the future economic climate and the number of people in need of support should jobs and public services face further huge cuts. If there was another major economic crisis or recession and unemployment goes up, there would be more people requiring assistance from a smaller pot of money.
Mr Edwards said that, given Wales is being hit disproportionately by the Coalition’s efforts to shrink the state it would be a great betrayal of Wales’ most vulnerable people if Labour MPs failed to oppose this cap.
Research conducted by the Sheffield Hallam University last year showed that Wales will be losing £1.07bn a year by 2014-15 – an annual loss of £550 for every working age adult (£80 higher than the UK average). People on lower incomes spend all of the money they receive out of necessity, and spend it locally in businesses throughout communities in Wales. It is the Welsh economy as a whole that suffers from cuts such as these.
Mr Edwards said:
“The welfare cap is an ill-judged, immoral policy that Plaid Cymru MPs will unanimously oppose.
“With Wales being hit disproportionately by the Coalition’s welfare reform programme, a vote for this cap is a vote for growing inequality and against social justice.
“Labour MPs represent some of the most deprived constituencies in Wales and therefore it’s vital that the First Minister puts pressure on them to do the right thing and vote against this damaging policy tomorrow.
“If they fail to do so, they will be ganging up with the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster against Wales’ most vulnerable people.
“Last year, we were told that more than £1bn is set to be wiped from the Welsh economy each year as a result of the UK Government’s welfare cuts. This works out as an annual loss of £550 for every working age adult.
“During last week’s Budget, Plaid Cymru made the case for cuts with a conscience – by scrapping Trident, introducing an Economic Fairness Bill to rebalance the UK economy, and adopting progressive taxes such as the Robin Hood Tax we can make austerity a thing of the past.
“As long as ‘boom and bust’ politics dominate Westminster, economic uncertainty will cast a shadow. If we face another recession in the coming years, we have no way of knowing how many people will face further poverty and unemployment.
“That is why a welfare cap is a wholly unfair and unjust policy, and why we are urging all Labour MPs from Wales to join us in doing what we were elected to do - protect Welsh people’s interests.”