A view from Carolyn Thomas – Welsh Labour’s North Wales Member of the Senedd
Wrexham.com has invited the four North Wales Members of the Senedd to write a monthly column with updates on their work. You can find their updates – along with contributions from the Wrexham and Clwyd South MPs and MSs – here.
In her column for Wrexham.com, Welsh Labour MS Carolyn Thomas writes…
Across the UK, we continue to see waves of strike action in the face of substantial increases to inflation and the cost-of-living.
Over the last 12 years, many public sector workers have had to put up with real-terms pay cuts, meaning that each year their salaries won’t go as far in providing essentials.
Research from the Resolution Foundation has shown that the average household is a staggering £11,000 worse off than they were 15 years ago.
From junior doctors to teachers and from nurses to ambulance workers, those who are currently striking are the people who were lauded as ‘keyworkers’ during the pandemic as they kept the vital cogs of our society’s machine turning whilst things around them ground to a halt.
For how many years are workers expected to accept pay cuts before their pay packets simply become unsustainably small?
We are already seeing the consequences, with staff leaving the NHS for pastures new at record rates, leading to chronic workforce shortages, increased agency bills and lower quality treatment for patients.
It is a vicious circle.
All the while, the wealth of the richest in our society continues to grow at unprecedented rates – the number of billionaires in the UK increased by a fifth since the onset of the pandemic.
Politics aside, from a purely economic perspective, designing an economy in this way is economically illiterate. Handing more and more money to the wealthiest means most of it ends up in banks and savings accounts, rather than being spent.
On the other hand, increasing the pay of public sector workers inevitably leads to money being spent in the wider economy; in supermarkets and grocers, on childcare, in local businesses and so on. This is the basis of economic growth, rather than the stagnation which is caused by the hoarding of money by the wealthy.
Low wages lead to restricted consumer spending and this has been coupled with a starvation of investment in public services; leading to the downward spiral within which we currently find ourselves.
Every day, working people rely on the public service building blocks of our society: education, health, housing and transport. As I have been saying in the Senedd this month, the way to stop this vicious circle is to properly invest in our public service infrastructure and increase wages so that workers are properly paid and valued.
In Wales, public services are our largest employer. Because Wales has a more rural, elderly population, there is a greater reliance on public sector funding. The bonus is that many investments in public services pay for themselves in the long-term because of the multiplier effect of a healthy, educated and better connected society.
‘Carolyn Thomas has highlighted and exposed the flaws at the heart of the UK Government strategy and the fact that there is a prescription available to them.’
The prescription: invest in public services, increase public sector pay & improve working conditions = a strong economy! pic.twitter.com/cKi0y6qUlM
— Carolyn Thomas MS / AS (@CThomasMS) April 13, 2023
This month, we have also seen that those on prepayment meters in North Wales will pay the highest standing charge in the whole of the United Kingdom, with the standing charge reaching an unconscionable 66.9p per day.
Standing charges are even payable on days when no energy is used. I am supporting my colleague, Mike Hedges (MS for Swansea East), in his calls for the standing charge to be abolished on days when no energy has used.
But fundamentally, the privatised energy system has long been exposed as a profiteering racket. The only way to properly end that, and to ensure that our energy infrastructure is managed for the public good, is to bring energy back under public ownership.
From this month, households across North Wales will be slapped with the highest energy bills in the UK.
If you’re on a prepayment meter, standing charges will be an exorbitant 66.9p per day!
Privatised energy is a profiteering racket. It must be ended with public ownership. pic.twitter.com/3JyaK6nWl1
— Carolyn Thomas MS / AS (@CThomasMS) April 3, 2023
As a Member of the Senedd for North Wales, I’m here to help you with any issues that you might have. Please email me on Carolyn.Thomas@Senedd.Wales, call my office on 0300 110 0176, or visit my website: www.carolynthomas.wales.”
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