The prior pandemic
The word emergency comes from the Latin word for emergence – to bring to light. And Covid-19 has certainly brought to the fore the prior pandemic which has been busily chipping away at the fabric of Welsh society and our people’s life chances for far too long. The disease of poverty, of low pay and poor housing, the scourge of gender and racial inequality, the civic decay of our democratic deficit. The statistics speak for themselves.
- Child hunger – There are 70,000 children in poverty in Wales that don’t even receive free school meals.
- Housing crisis – 67,000 families on housing waiting lists.
- Poverty wages – Over half of our care workers are paid less than the Real Living Wage.
- Life expectancy – Even before the pandemic, avoidable deaths were twice as likely in poorer parts of Wales compared to more affluent parts of the country.
- Racial inequality – You’re five and a half times more likely to go to prison if you’re black than if you’re white in the US; in Wales, the figure is six and a half.
- Gender based violence and inequality – A woman is killed by a man every 3 days in the UK.
- Environment – Air pollution causes around 2,000 deaths per year in Wales and the current target for Wales of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 is not fast enough to meet the scale of the challenge we face.
- Information deficit – Almost 40 per cent of people in Wales don’t know that the Welsh Government is responsible for Health whilst key public health messages got convoluted in the pandemic by a UK media which does not serve Wales’ needs.
- Democratic deficit – Wales has never elected a majority of Tory MPs, but we’ve had Conservative Governments in Westminster two thirds of the time since WW2.