Welsh voters are set to choose who runs the devolved nation on May 6th, as people also vote in elections for 5,000 councillors, 40 police and crime commissioners, the Scottish parliament, seven metro mayors and five local authority mayors.
People will cast two votes, one for their constituency member and one for a regional party list. A recent poll suggested that this could be the closest contest since devolution, with Labour on course for its worst ever result in the Senedd.
But party insiders are optimistic despite the recent survey. MS Mick Antoniw described the survey to LabourList as a “rogue” poll and predicted “not a great deal of change in terms of the number of Labour seats” in the upcoming vote.
Welsh Labour has published its manifesto today. All of the commitments made by the party in the 67-page document will no doubt have an impact on residents, but some will attract more attention than others. Here are seven key pledges…
The real living wage for carers
One of the flagship policy pledges for the Welsh Labour Party in May is giving care workers the real living wage of £9.50 per hour, recognising that the “dedication of the social care workforce has inspired a nation” throughout the pandemic.
The party has also committed to continuing to cap non-residential care fees and maintain the £50,000 capital limit, in a move to help people “hold onto more of their savings before paying for care than any other UK nation”.
20,000 low-carbon social rent homes
The manifesto sets out how Welsh Labour will create green jobs through a “low-carbon housebuilding revolution” and the party has pledged to deliver 20,000 low-carbon homes for social rent across the country.
The party has also said it will also support cooperative housing, community-led initiatives, and community land trusts, while improving existing homes to help tackle fuel poverty, create jobs, training opportunities and supply chains.
12,000 new medical staff for the NHS
As part of the NHS recovery plan, Welsh Labour has committed to training 12,000 staff including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and psychologists with an 8% increase in training funding in 2021 and over the next five years.
The party has pledged to keep funding the nurses bursary and free prescriptions, invest in mental health services, establish a “new generation of integrated health and social care centres” and a new medical school in North Wales.
Young Person’s Guarantee
Welsh Labour will provide a young person’s guarantee of a place in work, education, training or self-employment for all those aged under 25 in Wales. The offer includes the creation of 125,000 all-age apprenticeships in the next term.
The party has also promised to build a “genuine system of lifelong learning for everyone who needs help finding work and re-training” and to expand the ‘personal learning accounts’ to allow people to study flexibly and obtain new skills.
100 more police community support officers
The manifesto sets out Labour’s pledge to provide an additional 100 police community support officers, on top of the 500 currently funded by the devolved administration, while highlighting that the Conservatives plan to cut every position.
The responsibility for policing in Wales lies with the UK government, but the Welsh Labour administration has committed over recent years to funding community officers to ease the pressure caused by the austerity cuts pursued by Westminster.
Lift the ban on councils setting up municipal bus companies
The manifesto commits the party to lifting the Thatcherite-era ban brought in with the 1985 Transport Act, which has seen significantly fewer viable bus services in rural areas and left Wales with two firms post-privatisation.
The party has promised to invest in bus services and complete “major new bus infrastructure projects”, including reallocating road space to support dedicated bus lanes and new rapid transit routes to make bus travel easier.
The party has also pledged to bring in legislation to modernise the taxi and private vehicle sector and to address the problem of cross-bordering following concerns over inconsistent safety and quality standards across authorities in Wales.
The first new national park since 1957
The manifesto outlines how Welsh Labour will create the first new national park in Wales in almost 65 years to combat the climate emergency and create new jobs. The park will cover the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.
The party has also pledged to create a new national forest extending from North to South Wales, improving 20 existing woodlands, creating 30 new woodlands, connecting habitat areas and strengthening protections for ancient woodlands.
Welsh Labour promised to legislate to abolish more single-use plastics, introduce a Clean Air Act, support 80 reuse and repair hubs and develop a Wales Community Food Strategy to encourage the supply of locally sourced food.