Welsh Liberal Democrats demand ‘debt bonfire’ in response to Senedd report
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reiterated their demand for a ‘debt bonfire’ in response to a Senedd report.
They have welcomed the publication of the report by the Welsh Parliament Equality and Social Justice Committee on ‘Debt in Wales and the pandemic’.
The report, released this morning, outlines 14 recommendations for the Welsh Government to research and consider.
Among them is a recommendation to “explore the feasibility of introducing ‘debt bonfires’ in relation to aspects of public sector debt” with a deadline of providing feedback in June 2022.
A ‘debt bonfire’ was a key proposal of the Welsh Liberal Democrats during the 2021 Senedd Election. The policy advocates that the Welsh Government purchases the debt of some of those worst affected in Wales, whose debt has been passed on to debt collectors.
At the Senedd elections, the Welsh Liberal Democrats proposed £200,000 be made available to purchase newly-available bad debt and cancel it.
Proponents of the debt bonfire policy, including the Bevan Foundation argue it can help take some of the most deprived families in Wales out of the vicious circle of debt and increase social mobility.
‘Use our influence’
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS, who sits on the Committee said: “I am delighted the Welsh Liberal Democrats have been able to use our influence to secure research into this vital area.
“We know that Wales is disproportionately affected by debt when compared to the UK as a whole and we also know that debt is disproportionately impacting women, young people, renters, people with disabilities and people of colour.
“Due to the impact of the pandemic, it is also clear debt will have increased, and I am seriously concerned that this will force more people into dangerous and desperate situations.
“A debt bonfire is a liberal and radical policy that could liberate people from unfair, illiberal impacts of debt and give people a new lease of life and I look forward to the publication of research on the policy next June.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to helping all households struggling with their finances. We will continue to focus on our objectives to reduce the number of children living in workless households, increase the skills of parents, reduce inequalities in education, health and economic outcomes and action to increase household income.
“We welcome this report and will respond in due course.”