At the start of a new Senedd term, Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has warned of a “winter of deepening hardship” accusing Labour and the Tories of “showing more interest in fighting each other than fighting for Wales.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth said that the impact of wages not keeping up with the cost of living and stubbornly high utility bills already causing anxiety for most households in Wales would be more harshly felt over the winter months as energy usage rises.
With people seeing “bills increasing, real terms wages decreasing and faith in Government’s willingness to help evaporating”, Mr ap Iorwerth proposed a raft of measures that could be implemented quickly to mitigate the worst effects of hardship, bringing about a new sense of optimism. These include:
· Extending the Energy Bills Support Scheme to prevent more households from being dragged into fuel poverty this winter.
· Fair wages so workers in Wales are properly remunerated.
· Ensuring that core benefits will always cover the cost of basic essentials.
· Introducing a Winter Heating Payment paid no matter how cold the weather gets.
· Implementing a windfall tax on banks to fund a mortgage rescue scheme.
· Legislating in Wales to stop unfair rent increases.
Speaking ahead of the first Senedd sitting since the summer recess, Rhun ap Iorwerth said:
“Wales needs politicians to be on their side when times are hard. I know that this isn’t as good as it gets for our nation and in this upcoming Senedd term I will fight for a fairer Wales, a Wales that can fulfil its undoubted potential.
“The reality at the moment thanks to Tory chaos and Labour inaction is bills increasing, real terms wages decreasing and faith in government’s willingness to help evaporating.
“My positive vision for Wales has tackling inequalities at its heart. There’s no more important time to dig deep to seek that better future for Wales than a time like this when people need help most.
“Just last month, Citizens Advice warned that a record number of people in England and Wales are already seeking help for energy debt even before winter hits and that low-income households earning less than £29k will be the worst impacted when winter arrives.
“As a new parliamentary term gets underway, the Welsh and UK governments have a moral obligation to focus on preparing a comprehensive plan to support struggling households over the coming months.
“The UK Government must extend the Energy Bills Support Scheme, place a windfall tax on the banks to fund a mortgage rescue scheme, and pay fair wages in the public sector.
“At the same time, the Labour Welsh Government should legislate with immediate effect to stop unfair rent increases so that no one loses their home this winter.
“We’re ready to offer help and leadership to our communities and struggling families, but governments need to do so too.
“A failure to act by both governments will mean we face a winter of deepening hardship, with even more households driven into poverty, unable to make ends meet and accumulating more and more debt.
“As the Conservatives and Labour show more interest in fighting each other than in fighting for Wales, Plaid Cymru will continue to make the case for immediate action to help our communities through the difficult months ahead.”