Coronavirus has attacked both our health and economic wellbeing. It has highlighted societal inequalities and the vulnerabilities of day to day living for many people in Wales.

Our lifeboat economy lacks resilience. People may appear to have security and stability, but the smallest of punctures can have the widest of repercussions. Many of our people are a single payslip away from poverty.

The current devolution settlement cannot cope with the economics of Covid-19 nor the hard Brexit that is imminent. We need an expansion of economic powers devolved to Wales, especially increased capacity for the Welsh Government to borrow to invest our way to recovery

This Renewal Plan includes radical proposals that should be adopted without delay to protect livelihoods, re-boot the economy and ensure that we build back better. These proposals are just the start. But we need that start to be made now.

Plaid Cymru is calling for a three-pronged Emergency Renewal Plan to tackle the immediate crisis facing Wales over the coming 18 months:

1. An Employment Guarantee Scheme for 18-24-year-olds

School leavers and University graduates face being disproportionately affected in the post-Covid jobs market. According to forecasts from the Resolution Foundation the current crisis risks pushing an additional 30,000 18-24-year-olds in Wales into unemployment in the coming year – causing long-term damage to their pay and job prospects unless major new support is provided.

An Employment Guarantee would provide work opportunity for every 18-24-year-old at the earliest opportunity. This goes above and beyond the EU Youth Guarantee which ensures that all people under the age of 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

Priority should be given to projects with high potential for green job creation, including insulating homes, investment in clean energy, low carbon heating and transport, tree planting, and habitat and peatland restoration.

The Welsh Government should establish a Future Wales Fund which would offer a job to every unemployed 18-24 year-old in Wales. The jobs criteria would be as follows:

  • At least 25 hours per week.
  • Paid at least at the minimum wage.
  •  Additional – that is, they would not otherwise be filled by the employer as part of their core business, and would not exist without the Future Wales Fund funding
  • Required to last at least six months,
  • Be of benefit local communities
  • Providers required to provide support for employees to move them into long term, sustained employment.

2. Reskill Wales providing a one-off, £5,000 tax-free re-training payment for the unemployed aged over 24

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Wales in the first month of the Coronavirus increased significantly.

In April, there were 103,869 claimants compared to 58,576 in March – taking the claimant rate from 3.9% of the Welsh workforce to 6.8%.

A less generous UK Government furlough scheme and its discontinuation at the end of October is likely to leave employers with no alternative other than to cut their workforce.

Following the 2021 Senedd election a Plaid Cymru Government will explore options for Wales introducing a Universal Basic Income. Meanwhile, RESKILL Wales should give every unemployed person over 24 years old a one-off, tax-free payment of £5,000 designed to help them reskill and find employment.

3. All-Wales Renewal Fund to begin a longer-term invest in green infrastructure

The All-Wales Renewal Fund would support activity to:

  • Transform sectors identified as being hit hardest by Covid-19.
  • Build a sustainable Wales, paving the way to a Carbon free nation by 2030.
  • Develop a new sense of ‘localism’ which values public services.

Priority areas for investment would be housing, research and development, broadband connectivity, and sustainable transport. Housing is the best place to start finding the new jobs we need. Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World[1] an independent report on decarbonising homes in Wales, published last July, called for a long-term commitment to a residential decarbonisation programme, focussing initially on homes in social ownership and the 12% of homes in fuel poverty. The estimated cost could be between £0.5 billion and £1 billion per year for the next 10 years.

However the benefits to people’s health, the environment and from job creation would be substantial

Beyond the first five years, the All-Wales Renewal Fund should be boosted by a long-term £20 billion bond, repayable over thirty years. This would enable us to invest in building the Wales of the future, creating:

  • A National Endowment Fund:  giving our universities the income to transform Welsh science and R&D generating new ideas for a new economy and innovations in health and public services.
  • A Green New Deal: Thousands of new jobs through infrastructure investment in clean energy, energy efficient homes and sustainable transport.
  • Supporting local business: Extra support the Development Bank of Wales to lend to small businesses, new and old, to create post-Covid jobs.
  • Social Infrastructure: Immediate benefits to daily life through new housing and improved health and education facilities.

Returns from the All Wales Renewal Fund would repay the costs of investment. It would secure a more sustainable country for future generations and share prosperity and opportunity equally.