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Drakeford slams Westminster for cuts to welfare – but doesn’t want it devolved

30 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

Mark Drakeford has slammed Westminster for cutting welfare benefits – but he doesn’t want control over them to be devolved.

The First Minister hit out at the Conservative government in Westminster for the cuts, which he said was “responsible” for the rise in child poverty in Wales.

But he recently spoke out against the “wholesale” devolution of welfare and taxation because “it’s much in Wales’ interest that we have that machinery that allows for redistribution in that socialist way”.

Plaid Cymru accused Drakeford of letting “unionism trump his socialism” in response.

Mark Drakeford told Guto Harri on S4C politics show, Y Byd yn ei Le: “In the first decade of devolution when there was a Labour government in Westminster cooperating with the Labour government here in Wales, child poverty was going down year after year.

“In the second decade of devolution, with the Conservative government in Westminster, with a decade of austerity, the number of children in poverty has increased.

“Now we as a Labour Party here in Wales are doing everything we are able to do. But when there is a Conservative government in Westminster. It’s Westminster’s fault. They’re responsible.

“Control of welfare payments is in their hands. That’s why the number of children in poverty has gone up, because they’ve cut welfare payments.”

‘Devolution’ 

But speaking to the BBC’s Walescast, Drakeford said: “I don’t share the enthusiasm that some of my colleagues have for the devolution of the benefits system, and taxation in a wholesale way.

“I think that sometimes surprises me, and it quite definitely sometimes surprises them, because those are two things which I think are part of the glue that holds the United Kingdom together and, on the whole, it’s much in Wales’ interest that we have that machinery that allows for redistribution in that socialist way.

“Obviously [it is] not used in that way by the current government, but [by] a Labour government with its hands on those levers that allow you to use macroeconomic policy and the social security system for the benefit of those people who need it most. I still think those are things better discharged at a UK level.”

Rhys ab Owen, Plaid Cymru’s candidate for Cardiff West, said: “It is disappointing but hardly surprising that Mark Drakeford puts his commitment to the union ahead of his constituents on the devolution of welfare benefits.

“It makes no sense that welfare benefits are reserved whilst health, education and housing is devolved. It creates a disjointed system that disadvantages the most vulnerable in our society. His view encapsulates the lack of ambition and vision Labour has for Wales.

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