A dynamic “Springboard” economy – Cymru Cryf – can put a new bounce into Wales by boosting public services, equipping people with skills building sustainable jobs and banishing poverty from Wales.
That’s the view of Welsh Labour leadership candidate Eluned Morgan, who says a refreshed and resilient economy with skilled workers will become a magnet for investors and propel living standards upwards and create and release cash for health, education and other vital public services to enable the future- proofing of Wales’ wellbeing.
“My number one priority as First Minister would be to drive a radical new approach to the economy in Wales” said Eluned. “We must act with alacrity to build a springboard to allow the landing of good quality jobs in every community and a leaping forward with real investment in our public services to counter the devastation of a decade of Conservative austerity damage.
“Welsh Labour can be proud of so many achievements over the past two decades in Wales but, we must put our hands up and admit that one area where we have failed to make the impact that we could and should have, is the economy.
“It is hurtful that the horrendous hangover from Thatcher de-industrialisation is still with us, along with the pounding headache of 23 per cent of people in Wales living in poverty.” Eluned says the solution is a vibrant economy to breathe life into Wales and enable clever supportive spending: “My experience of working in industry indicates that investors need a stable economic and regulatory framework, buttressed by a skilled workforce and good infrastructure.”
Eluned said: “I promise effective change which has been developed by and with people across Wales. We must act quickly and radically and set up the strategic interventions that will enable us to finance and take up the cases of the hundreds of thousands of people across Wales who are in poverty, who are excluded, who are disadvantaged or who are now really fed up with the stresses of just barely managing and desperately want change, solutions and want to be sure that their voices will be heard.
“I say to them that we are listening and with their help, drive and support, we will propose specific, achievable and deliverable economic priorities for growing the economy and launching an immediate and effective attack on poverty in our country, we will encourage employers to understand that working with trade unions will help to increase productivity in their organisations.”
“In these enforced uncertain times, we must be creative and innovative, do everything we can to make Wales a magnet for investment and give confidence to our home-grown companies to grow to sell goods and services globally,” said Eluned.
• The World’s first up-scale fund: “We will identify and support with Welsh Government patient capital any of the top 50 firms in Wales which have the potential to grow and become world leaders and indigenous firms with growth potential. As these businesses succeed, we will sell the government share and reinvest this money to help more firms.”
• Anchor Companies: “Clearer systems, stronger links, between our anchor companies and the Welsh Government.”
• Inward investment body: “No return to the WDA- but a new nimble body which can respond to the needs of the 21st Century economy. Experts with the skills to encourage investment into Wales will feature in a new arms-length inward investment organisation to develop a truly international dimension to our economy. We will also explore the option of combining this with an arm’s length export assist office to encourage Welsh companies to sell overseas.” The “Springboard” Economy: Here are Eluned’s initial target areas:
• Keeping public cash in Wales: “We will go a great deal further to reform Welsh procurement to ensure that smaller, Welsh firms win more public sector contracts.”
• Promoting the rural economy: “We’ll implement and deliver my published Rural Economic Development plan and develop a fourth rural economic region in Mid and West Wales.”
• Taxation: “A no-holds barred brief- including income tax, council tax, business rates, land tax and any other relevant taxes- for a new panel of experts to give advice on revising taxation in Wales.”
• Cymru Currency: “We will investigate introducing a Cymru digital community currency which could keep as much as £16bn of Welsh Government annual spend within the country.”
• BREXIT: “I will do everything possible to stop the incredible damage that a hard BREXIT will cause to Wales. The EU has benefited Wales and the cuts will fall if we leave without a deal. I believe that there is a need for a People’s Vote to determine what our future relationship with the EU should be- and this time arming people with the knowledge of the devastating damage of what Brexit actually means.”
• Future proof infrastructure: “In the digital age, infrastructure means smart electricity grids; support for the move to Electric Vehicles; Super-Fast Broadband connectivity along with 5G mobile access as well as traditional improvements in public transport infrastructure. The development of the Metro in South Wales and North Wales could genuinely transform the economy in these regions.”
• Investing in Potential: “We will encourage the Development Bank of Wales to loan further funding to businesses for capital investment to drive up productivity levels.”
• Self employed and small business: “I want to make Wales the best place in the UK to be self- employed. Today that means14 per cent of Welsh people but predictions say that could rise to as many as 40 per cent. Also, 95 per cent of the 250,000 businesses in Wales employ 9 people or under. We’ll back these businesses in a separate programme to be announced soon.”
• Helping the disabled and people with mental health issues into work: We will provide a package of support that we can offer employers to take on disabled workers and we will offer £1000 to disabled people to set up their own businesses on production of an acceptable business plan.
• Ladder for Life- Adult learning: ”Wales has the power to borrow so let’s open minds as well as open roads. To begin with we’ll pilot Individual Learning Accounts to help people to train in areas where there are skills shortages. We will enhance support for the Welsh Union Learning Fund to help upskill workers. We will focus this first pilot on people who are most at risk of losing their jobs as a result of digitalisation and offer unemployed under 25-year-olds a one-off payment of £1,000 subject to an acceptable business plan being introduced to start their own business.”
• Business and universities: “Wales is blessed with a number of strong universities – storehouses of research capability, knowledge, and skills. We must incentivise more and better strategic partnerships between business and universities. At the same time, this will strengthen our ability to attract research and other finance into Wales from UK funding bodies.”
• A Productivity and Digital Minister: “We must be at the vanguard of the digital revolution. I will appoint a specialist group involve trade unions and appoint a Minister who will be responsible for driving up productivity and harnessing the opportunities provided by the shift to digitalisation.”
• Living and Minimum Wage: “My government will work with Police Commissioners and the HMRC to prioritise the enforcement of the minimum wage laws and seek to mandate the Living Wage through government procurement.”
• Targeted training: “Encourage young people to train in areas where there is a chance of getting a good job and an opportunity to progress in work. Restrict access to courses where there is little hope of a long-term well-paid job and encourage them to study courses where there are skills gaps and a career path.”
• Older people: “The skills and experience of older people is a valuable, untapped resource. We will champion their involvement in the economy and seek to allow them to remain independent, active, and productive for as long as possible.”
• Eco Smart Homes: “A long-term policy working with Housing Associations, Local Authorities, and the private sector to build Smart Eco homes that are appropriate for older people in every community in Wales.”