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22 April 2021

Promises, promises: Political party manifesto pledges

Promises, promises: Political party manifesto pledges

Since its creation in 1999, each of the five Senedd terms has been consistently dominated by Welsh Labour. Whilst the March Political Barometer Poll indicated very close competition between Labour, the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru, a more recent and extensive poll predicts that Labour are likely to remain the largest party in the Senedd.


For the constituency vote, the poll recorded the following percentages:


  • Labour 40%

  • Conservatives 30%

  • Plaid Cymru 19%

  • Lib Dem 4%

  • Other 7%

And for the regional vote:


  • Labour 38%

  • Conservatives 27%

  • Plaid Cymru 19%

  • Lib Dem 4%

  • Greens 5%

  • UKIP 2%

  • Other 7%

It still remains that Labour may just fall short of an overall majority (quite common in the history of the Senedd), and would need to enlist the support of another party to form a minority government.


With this in mind, what are the main parties promising to deliver over the next Senedd term and how does this stack up against our calls in our Home manifesto?


Supply of housing


One of our central asks for the next Welsh Government is a 5-year, £1.5bn investment programme of 20,000 new energy-efficient social homes.


Labour has outright committed to building 20,000 new, low carbon social homes for rent, whilst Plaid Cymru is boldly pledging the biggest public house building programme for 50 years. This will include building or converting 50,000 public homes over the next five years – 30,000 council houses or other social housing.


Equating to similar party targets, the Conservatives will build 100,000 homes over the next 10 years, including 40,000 social homes and the requirement for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2026.


Homelessness


Our manifesto explains how we need to transform the way we alleviate homelessness based on rapid rehousing and a Housing First model. Both the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have stated that they will introduce a Housing First model. Meanwhile, Labour will develop a national scheme restricting rent to local housing allowance levels for families and young people who are priced out of the private rental market and those who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness.


Health and social care


There is an ever-increasing challenge for the social sector to deliver high quality, person-centred care to support people to remain independent in their own homes when it is currently being driven by cost and not value. This is why we would like to see the next Welsh Government increase social care funding for local authorities, including recognising the important work of care workers by paying at least the Real Living Wage of £9.50 per hour.


Both the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru will introduce a minimum care wage of £10 per hour to ensure that their vital work is recognised and progressively in line with those of NHS staff. Although no mention of a specific wage, Labour pledges to launch a National Social Care Framework to set fair commissioning, fair workforce conditions, and a more balanced care market between public, voluntary, and private providers.


Town centres and communities


All around our homes, we have seen the desertification of town centres accelerate due to the pandemic. We all deserve to live in a place that is visually welcoming and serves a purpose to enable a thriving community. The next Welsh Government should include greater flexibility within the planning process to allow local places to be agile in their response to changing demand and consumer habits and encourage experimentation in the use of empty properties.


A Plaid Cymru government will work towards creating 20-minute neighbourhoods in towns and cities providing convenient, safe, pedestrian access to the places people need to go and the services people use nearly every day. They will also ensure the provision of good quality green space within a five-minute walk of all Welsh households will be a government priority.


Labour will help businesses to work cooperatively to support local supply chains, including local delivery and logistics services to enable our communities to become more sustainable and more agile economically. Working in partnership with Councils, the voluntary sector and community groups, they propose to create more community green space in town centres.


As for the Conservatives, they will overhaul the Welsh planning process, with new technology and cutting red tape whilst putting communities first. They aim to empower local communities to establish neighbourhood plans, allowing them to influence where development should happen, what their communities should look like, and what they should include. This includes an ‘Introduce a Community Ownership Fund and Right to Bid’ to support the takeover of assets such as libraries, pubs, leisure centres and green spaces, particularly those threatened with closure or development.


At face value, the main political parties appear to offer similar solutions to some of the challenges in our manifesto, with slight variations in how they will be achieved.The proof will be in the pudding on who will deliver these ambitions over the next Senedd term.


CHC’s ‘Home’ manifesto was co-developed with almost 100 organisations, including housing associations and partners from the public, private and third sectors from across Wales.