In recent weeks Virginia Crosbie and Rhun ap Iorwerth have both been keen to criticise Welsh Government’s handling of the response to coronavirus. While Virginia has been complaining about in-county travel restrictions in North Wales that are designed to limit spread of the virus, Rhun used his Plaid Cymru conference speech to accuse Welsh Government of having failed to develop testing capacity in Wales and of being “too managerial” – an odd criticism at a time when sound management is essential. So here are a few facts about what the Welsh Labour Government has achieved:
EFFECTIVE CONTACT TRACING: The latest figures show that in the week 27 September to 3 October, 89% of positive cases in Wales were reached and asked to provide details of contacts, and that 87% of those contacts were then also reached and advised. For the period since 21 June, the figures are 96% and 94%, respectively. The success of Welsh Government’s Test, Trace, Protect scheme is helping to limit spread of the virus.
By contrast, though you won’t hear it from Virginia, in England the latest figures show that only 74% of positive cases are being reached and that only 69% of their contacts are being traced and advised. That’s apart from the failure to record almost 16,000 cases in the last week of September.
SUPPORT FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY: The Welsh Labour Government is providing £320 million towards reconstruction work to help build a new future out of the coronavirus pandemic. It will cover eight priority areas, including training in new skills, supporting young people to stay in education, construction of council and social housing, investing in town centres and supporting the decarbonisation agenda.
SUPPORT FOR JOBS: The third phase of Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund has been launched, making an additional £140 million available to businesses. £80 million will support firms with projects that can help them transition to the economy of tomorrow, of which £20 million will be ring fenced to support tourism and hospitality businesses. The remaining £60 million will go to a Local Lockdown Business Fund that will support businesses impacted by local restrictions. The Fund has already helped protect more than 100,000 jobs across Wales.
SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE IN NEED: Welsh Government’s Discretionary Assistance Fund is providing grants to help pay for essential costs, such as food, gas, electricity or clothing after an emergency. It is also helping people to live independently by covering the cost of essential appliances or furniture. This is making a massive difference to low-income families struggling with the bedroom tax in particular.
SUPPORT FOR TENANTS: Welsh Government has launched a new £8m Tenant Saver Loan Scheme for private sector tenants not on benefits who have been struggling to pay rent since March.
SUPPORT FOR FREELANCERS: A £7 million fund has been created to help freelancers in the arts, creative industries, culture and heritage. Grants of £2500 will be available.
These are just some of the measures introduced specifically in Wales by the Welsh Labour Government to give people a brighter future in these difficult times.