Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Plaid Cymru has called for an additional 1 per cent of GDP to be invested across the UK in infrastructure. This is an additional £19 billion pounds a year on top of the 1.2 per cent (£23 billion pounds) to which all the London based and Westminster focused parties are committed. Research by the IMF has calculated that for every £1 spent on infrastructure some £3's worth of additional economic activity is created. At a time when Wales needs investment, job creation and improvements in its infrastructure, such investment could yield real dividends for our people. The more job creation we can stimulate and the better improvements to our infrastructure, the better the long-term prospects will be for the Welsh economy.

Monday, 30 March 2015


Once again a UK Westminster government has put the needs of rural Wales last by failing to include Welsh regions in a scheme to help lower fuel bills in rural areas. The application made by the UK Government included seventeen areas in the UK for a 5 pence per litre fuel duty discount, but oddly enough none of the seventeen areas were in Wales.
Plaid Cymru has argued that Wales has some of the most rural areas of the UK, and should qualify for the scheme. Rural Wales has already been very badly hit by numerous decisions taken by both the Westminster Government and Labour in Wales Welsh Government, with decisions being made to cut the EU budget, to reduce CAP payments to Welsh farmers by a quarter of a billion pounds and a failure to support rural businesses.
The decision to exclude rural Wales from the fuel duty discount is just another example of the Westminster parties neglecting to work in Wales’ best interests. Farm incomes fell by 24% last year, and farmers are facing extremely difficult economic conditions. The UK Westminster Government has publically acknowledged that rural areas face added financial pressures, but they have yet again failed to deliver for Wales.The Labour in Wales Welsh Government has also failed to support our rural communities.

The Westminster parties voted to cut the CAP budget on a EU level, and the Labour in Wales Welsh has failed to invest in broadband and mobile connectivity, or step up to help our rural businesses with their business rates. Rural Wales has pretty much been abandoned by the UK Westminster parties, clearly only Plaid Cymru is prepared to step up and fight for Wales’ needs at every opportunity.

Sunday, 29 March 2015


When spending public money, it’s important to work it very hard and extract every single possible benefit. We need to take a fresh look public sector procurement of goods and services in Wales and ensure that an increasing percentage of our public sector spend is targeted towards local businesses and local suppliers. 
The Welsh public sector spends £4.3 billion pounds every year buying goods and services from the private sector, which supports some 98,000 jobs. This sum is four times larger than what Wales raises in business rates and almost three times as much as corporation tax. At present close to 52% of that is spent in Wales compared to Germany, which spends 99% of its procurement budget within its own borders, and France, which spends 98%. 
When taxpayers’ money is being spent, it is important that every single possible added value be squeezed out of it and it is vital that we spend as much of possible of it as we can to support Welsh businesses.  For every 1% increase in the proportion of money being spent in Wales we could grow 2,000 new jobs. Plaid Cymru plans to add 25% to the current percentage of 52% and create 50,000 new jobs. This would boost local businesses and local suppliers and safeguard and create valuable jobs in the private sector and maximise the value of the public sector procurement spend.

Friday, 27 March 2015


I am backing Earth Hour 2015, when people across Wales and around the world will be switching off the lights for an hour to help save energy and build a more sustainable future. Earth Hour is a global initiative and takes place this year on Saturday 28 March at 8.30pm, organised by WWF. Increasing numbers of Welsh businesses and public bodies including County Councils, Universities, the Senedd and Caerphilly Castle have already pledged their support. In 2015, WWF Cymru is asking people in Wales to mark the event by holding a candlelit dinner. Simply switching off the lights for just an hour is a gesture that can makes a difference to our energy consumption, it will teach us to consume less and send a message that saving energy and developing sustainable energy is important. By consuming less energy and making sure that the energy we do use comes from sustainable renewable sources is vital for all of our futures. Let's show the world how much we in Wales care about the planet.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Plaid Cymru wants to press ahead with an achievable training and recruitment plan that brings the number of doctors per head in Wales initially to the UK average then beyond. This is the 1000 doctors policy. 1000 extra doctors would take us to the level of the North East of England, which has similar health needs. Wales would still be substantially below the EU average or Scotland – but it would be a step forward.

One thousand extra doctors would add between £70 to £100 million to the payroll at current rates depending on which specialisms the doctors ended up working in (and includes calculations for additional financial incentives). However, because this cost would be a gradual rise of the wage bill over the next 10 years as the doctors were recruited and trained, the financial hit wouldn’t be experienced immediately. The current health and social care budget is £6.5 billion – so our proposal involves increasing spending by less than 1% of the current budget within 10 years.

The adoption of this policy would lead to substantial savings from the agency and locum bills – which amount to over £100 million a year. Furthermore a pop tax would raise £45 million, plus reduce NHS expenditure on diabetes – which currently represents 10% of the NHS budget.

However, people who are familiar with the NHS know that finance is not the obstacle to recruitment of doctors. Making the NHS in Wales more attractive for doctors to work in is the main challenge we would face. That’s why we proposed many policies such as a paperless NHS, making the NHS research friendly, and developing more home grown doctors through investments in training

The need is obvious; wards are closing and services being moved from local hospitals because of a shortage of doctors, almost a quarter of GPs are close to retirement and will need to be replaced (in the valleys this figure approaches 50%), and the demands on the health service are rising daily. We simply won’t have an NHS without doctors – solving the GP shortage by asking people in the Valleys to travel to Cardiff or in our rural areas to travel long distances to see a GP is just not an option.

Monday, 23 March 2015


Plaid Cymru wants to offer an extra year of full-time education for three year olds in Wales. This would help parents with childcare as well as help equalise children’s life chances. The two main problems with childcare are the lack of affordability and availability of childcare for families.

·     The Family and Childcare Trust’s Childcare Costs Survey for 2014 found that even part-time childcare costs outstrip the average mortgage in the UK.  For a family of two children, the cost for one child in part-time nursery care and one in after school club is £7,549 a year compared to the average UK mortgage of £7,207.

·       In Wales in 2014, the following percentages of local authorities reported sufficient childcare for particular groups of children:

o   Children aged two and under: 22% (UK average 49%)
o   Three and four year olds: 17% (UK average 63%)
o   5-11s: 11% (UK average 33%)
o   12-14s: 6% (UK average 17%)

If done properly, a good childcare system can help tackle the gap between poverty and achievement; it can help to improve the economy, and can help to take families out of poverty. Quality childcare / early years’ education from trained providers can help children’s development.

With Women able to go back to work, this will boost the economy by increasing productivity, with more tax paid in and reduce the burden on the benefit system. This will also help to reduce their own ‘maternity penalty’ through lower wages and skillsets. Thus access to decent childcare provision means that household incomes can increase and poverty can be reduced.

Plaid aims to consult on various funding models, including potential EU funding, and reprioritise existing spending. The recent IPPR report on childcare (back in February 2014) shows the relationship between childcare investment and the tax system (increased tax paid, fewer in-work benefits paid out).

Unfortunately, at present Wales does not have any control over income tax or benefits. This means that there is less incentive for the current Labour in Wales Welsh Government to invest in childcare because there is no direct return in investment. 

Now if Wales had shared control over at least income tax then we would benefit directly from this. At present the Treasury has a mechanism whereby it can provide funding for schemes that would save it money and Plaid would look into using this.

Wales should be in the position where free childcare can be extended and the provision of after schools clubs should be more widespread. This would enable our young people to gain exposure to music, the arts and sport and access other aftercare activities in a safe environment, something that would help parents as well.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Small businesses are vital for our economy, they form the backbone of our economy and they are vital in terms of spreading economic growth beyond the cities and into our smaller towns like Abergavenny, Chepstow, Caldicot, Monmouth and Usk. If we want our small towns across Wales to be thriving, then we have to support small businesses. Business rates are a burden – they account for a far greater proportion of operating costs for a small business than they do for large businesses.

A Plaid Cymru government would extend the rate relief scheme that we implemented in Government so that it covers all businesses whose rateable value is £15,000 or less.  Some 83,000 businesses would see a reduction in their business rates as a result and more than 70,000 businesses across Wales would be taken out of the rates system altogether - this would cost £35 million.

Plaid would raise the money, which would go towards paying for this, by mirroring the business rates system, as it currently exists in England where large businesses pay more than small businesses. While larger businesses would pay more, they would still pay less in Wales than they would across the border. The extra money raised through the increased bill for large businesses would raise more than enough to cut bills for small businesses

Monday, 16 March 2015


At present, there are real concerns that the usual way of approving treatments for general use takes far too long, and doesn’t take into account that some patients may be more responsive than others to some types of treatment. There is a process where patients may apply for funding if their doctor thinks they should have the treatment, but far too often these decisions come down to the area a patient lives, and the criteria of ‘exceptionality’ – which basically means patients have to prove they are more worthy than others.

Plaid plans to establish a national panel to approve/reject requests for treatment not ordinarily available for patients provided by our NHS. Its decisions would apply nationally so that the postcode lottery can be brought to an end. Plaid would also get rid of the criteria that patients demonstrate ‘exceptionality’ in order to be successful, which will lead to more patients benefiting from this. This would obviously lead to an increase in spending on drugs and other treatments. To cover these costs Plaid would fund this by establishing a ring fenced budget funded by the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme rebate payments that Wales receives every year. In 2015/16 this fund would be £56 million.

National panels would be established for each speciality where these issues tend to arise e.g. a national panel for cancer.  When a doctor found they could not access treatment for a patient in the usual manner, they could apply to the National Panel by making an individual patient funding request, getting two other doctors to support the application. The doctor would have to demonstrate that the treatment proposed would be effective in treating the patient or significantly prolonging their life. Doctors would also have to keep a record of the patient’s progress to ensure we weren’t wasting money on treatments that didn’t work.