An Independent Wales could invest billions more in public services – report
An independent Wales could afford to invest an extra £3 billion a year in public services, such as universal free childcare and public transport, according to a report by the Welsh think tank Melin Drafod.
The discussion paper, published today, comes to the conclusion that there is a “credible argument that Wales would face a deficit … that would make [it] as capable as the vast majority of European countries to be independent.”
The Melin Drafod research claims it would be prudent to improve Wales’ fiscal position by around 6-7% of GDP over a period of years through policy changes including:
increasing tax revenue levels to the European average, with major tax reforms, drug decriminalisation and taxing landlords;
changing the relationship with work and increasing the percentage of the population that is of working age, including by relaxing immigration rules;
reducing defence spending to the same level as Ireland;
delivering savings through the creation of a single integrated emergency service, fewer county councils and a significant reduction in the prison population.
It also suggests that, if negotiations with the rest of the UK followed international precedent and its policy changes introduced, Wales would have around £3 billion a year extra to invest.
The think tank proposes that money could go to projects such as free universal childcare and a program to decarbonise the transport, energy and housing systems.
Talat Chaudhri, Chair of Melin Drafod, the think tank which considers the implications of Wales becoming an independent nation, said: “Hopefully this paper will stimulate an even more detailed policy discussion about the path towards establishing Wales as an independent, successful and progressive state. I
“It is often said that Wales’ fiscal situation is one of the biggest obstacles by organisations trying to convince the public of the case for Welsh independence.
“The paper we are publishing today shows not only that there is a strong argument that Wales could afford independence, but that there is an opportunity to create a new society. A much fairer, greener and peaceful country than the one trapped in a failed and completely unfair UK economic system.”
Melin Drafod’s discussion paper is the result of consultation with a variety of experts.
Tegid Roberts, Founder of Banc Cambria, Cadarn and Director of Quantum Soup Studio, said: “This paper is not only an excellent summary of the work done to date on Welsh finances, but also a starting point for a much wider discussion about what the Welsh society and its economy should be.
“That wider discussion has the advantage of rejecting Westminster orthodoxy and starting afresh. It can consider a Welsh central bank and currency and it can also take a blank sheet to the welfare system and our tax system as well.
“At this stage nothing should be off the table other than the Welsh society should come first and its economy a function of that and not the other way around.”
Mark Hooper, Founder of IndyCube and Banc Cambria added: “This paper, for me, is an important conversation starter. Wales needs a deep and challenging debate regarding the type of society we need, and the type of state that’s therefore required.
“The economy we need to deliver that gets constructed around the answers to those questions.
“This is a hugely exciting and invigorating time for us, as we build a new Wales; let’s avoid being restricted in our thinking with the stuff that we know doesn’t work. The independence movement must enable these important and defining conversations now.”
Melin Drafod is holding an independence summit tomorrow (28 January) in Brangwyn Hall in Swansea.
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