Welsh anger at Osborne for failure on transfer of powers

Welsh anger at Osborne for failure on transfer of powers

By staff writers
20 Mar 2013

The UK chancellor's lack of solutions to the spectre of economic recession shows why transfer of powers to Wales is a priority, says Plaid Cymru.

The Party of Wales' Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, reacted to George Osborne’s 2013 Budget by suggesting that it will bring little benefit to the struggling Welsh economy.

Mr Edwards said that the Chancellor’s failure to transfer key job-creating powers from Westminster to Wales means that the Budget will fail to boost demand in the Welsh economy and prevent vital investment in major infrastructure projects.

Speaking after Mr Osborne's statement in Westminster on 20 March 2013, Mr Edwards declared: "This was a bland Budget by a Chancellor trying to convince himself that his policies are working, despite a further growth downgrade by the OBR.

“It is disappointing that the Chancellor failed to adopt a range of progressive policies advocated by Plaid Cymru such as reversing the tax cut for those earning over £3,000 a week due to be implemented in April and scrapping the Trident renewal that is set to cost £100 billion over the lifetime of a new system.

“He also failed to make progress on introducing a Financial Transaction (Robin Hood) Tax that would raise £20 billion a year and help curb the speculative behaviour in the financial sector which caused the crash in the first place.

"The decision to scrap the stamp duty on shares trading is a regressive move as it’s the only thing in the UK currently resembling this tax.

"There are, however, some measures which Plaid Cymru welcomes. The announcement on childcare support is a positive move but we are concerned that it does not help those on tax credits or universal credit - in other words those on the lowest incomes who face the greatest barriers to meaningful work.

“The £10,000 tax threshold is another welcome announcement that will help those on lowers incomes – a policy that Plaid Cymru has long supported.

"Most importantly for Wales, what the Chancellor should have announced is the implementation of the recommendations made by the Silk Commission so that Wales has control over the levers that would allow investment in major infrastructure projects, creating jobs and boosting demand in the economy.

"Ordinary families in Wales should not have to pay the price for the failings of the banks and the self-defeating policies of the Treasury," said Mr Edwards.

Meanwhile, in a keynote address to Plaid's conference on 15 March, party leader Leanne Wood said, in setting out a different path for Wales, that “Economics and Politics go together. We can only get the economics right if we get the politics right."

The speech contained an outline of five key areas the Plaid Cymru Economic Commission established by Ms Wood has identified for boosting the economy and creating jobs.

These are, first, ‘Connecting the Nation’ which will concentrate on improving public transport with the National Assembly taking full control of the all-Wales rail franchise, improving the road network, utilising our ports and delivering high-speed broadband and 4G access for all.

Second, ‘Re-localising the local’ which will improve levels of Welsh public procurement to create jobs for local businesses.

Third, ‘A national energy agency for Wales’, which would use the country's resources for the benefit for the people of Wales and invest in research and development of new projects.

Fourth, a Welsh financial system which will include the creation of a publicly owned Bank of Wales to invest in small businesses.

Fifth, re-balancing Britain, which will include devolving the welfare system and increasing the Welsh proportion of UK public procurement budgets to redress the historic imbalance between the home nations.

Ms Wood said: “When I was elected as leader of my party I made it clear that I wanted to be judged on one issue and one issue only – the economy. And the economy, and the creation of jobs, remains, and will remain, my steadfast focus as we head towards the next Assembly Elections in 2016."

She added: “Plaid Cymru fundamentally disagrees with the course of action being taken by the UK government. Far from making things better, the policies being pursued by the UK government are actually making the problems in the Welsh economy worse.

“Plan A for austerity is disastrous for Wales. The People of Wales did not vote for it. Most people here support parties which reject it, or at least who say they do... but rejecting austerity is not enough. I reject the mantra that there is no alternative. For Wales, there must be an alternative," said Ms Wood.

* Party of Wales (English): http://www.english.plaidcymru.org/

* Plaid Cymru (Cymraeg): http://www.plaidcymru.org/?force=2

[Ekk/3]

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