Chancellor’s statement: A global pandemic needs a local recovery
Plaid Cymru’s Treasury Spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has called for a ‘local recovery to the global pandemic’, ahead of the UK Chancellor’s economic statement in the House of Commons (8 July).
In an article for the Welsh newspaper, The Western Mail, Mr Lake writes “while Westminster believes it has won its war with Covid, in truth we are still on the battlefield” when it comes to the economy.
The Plaid MP called for local procurement schemes to be introduced, following the leads of local authorities such as Carmarthen and Ceredigion, as well as greater R&D funding to be given to Wales.
In the article, Ben Lake MP writes:
“Ultimately, the fault [of weakness in the Welsh economy] lies in the UK’s highly centralised structure centred in the corridors of Whitehall. For too long, we have seen a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development which has marginalised whole communities and institutionalised a core-periphery economic model.
“Instead, Plaid Cymru wants to make the most of Wales’ comparative strengths. We would build upon the record and ambitions of Welsh Local Authorities such as Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion which have championed local procurement strategies as well as methods of local ownership, ranging from renewable energy generation to community buildings.
“With my colleague Llyr Gruffydd MS, I have championed a ‘Buy Local’ campaign for our great food and drink sector, but we need to be even more ambitious for our economy. This could include using tools such as local sourcing obligations in public tenders, committing to local ownership schemes, and ensuring green interventions like insulating our homes involves local employers.
“The Welsh public pound also needs to go further than the economy of today by supporting innovation which will support our green transition. With nearly half of UK research and development expenditure centred in London, Oxford and Cambridge, we would support the creation of publicly seeded innovation funds to link our fantastic universities with Welsh businesses so that together they can develop solutions to the challenges of tomorrow.
“A recovery that builds back better in partnership with Welsh businesses and communities will also make us more capable partners internationally. With a stronger and more resilient domestic economy built around local supply chains and ownership, we will be a more cohesive, capable, and purposeful trade partner on the world stage.
“Ultimately, this recovery must learn from the past and rebuild from the bottom up to take advantage of the underutilised wealth of expertise, talent and resources that we have in Wales. By building a local recovery we can both help drive productivity gains and provide a test-bed for innovation, while also learning from the lessons of the past - and the political realities of the present - to ensure our recovery ushers a lasting, positive legacy for our communities.”