To emphasize the point during the election campaign against George HW Bush, Bill Clinton famously said ‘’it’s the economy stupid!’’ While noting that we are not living in the 1990’s or America, strong economic foundations are a vital component when it comes to building a prosperous Wales. A Living Wage makes economic sense due to the fact it would mean that workers are paid a proper wage to reflect their work, and will be able to live on what they earn.
Plaid Cymru wants to see an end to poverty pay - which is why the Living Wage is one of our key pledges going in to next year's Westminster General Election. New figures published by the Living Wage Foundation (on Monday 3rd November) have revealed that 24% of Welsh workers (that’s almost 261,000 people) actually earn less than the Living Wage. The worst performing regions in Wales are Conwy and Powys where 32% of employees are earning less than the Living Wage.
It should be scandalous that many workers in the UK live with in-work poverty, in one of the world's wealthiest countries. Particularly as the UK Westminster government subsidises big business to pay poverty wages, by setting the minimum wage too low and then topping them up with tax credits to enable people to afford basic provisions. The Living Wage makes sense on a social and economic level. With 1 in 4 Welsh workers earn less than the Living Wage.
If the Living Wage became a legal requirement, over 250,000 Welsh workers would receive a pay rise, leaving them with more money in their pockets to spend locally. Plaid Cymru's focus is a Welsh economic recovery driven by investment and job-creation with those jobs paying enough for people to live on.
In-work poverty is a scandal that should not be blighting one of the world's richest nations. This contrasts with Labour's pledge for £8.00 per hour minimum wage by 2020 - an annual rate of increase worse than that between 1999 and 2014 - and it is clear which party is standing up for Welsh workers.
Despite the myths peddled by much of the media, the majority of people receiving benefits are actually in work. This is a damning reflection of successive Labour and Tory Government's failure to ensure that earnings aren't outstripped by the daily cost of living. A decent day's pay for an honest day's work - that is what Plaid Cymru believes in and that is what we will be fighting for between now and next May.