This pandemic has tested all of us. Many of us have lost family members, friends, and neighbours to Covid-19, and we know that there are others still struggling with the lasting impact of the disease upon their health and wellbeing.
We have, all of us, battled against the pandemic. We owe a big debt of gratitude to those heroes in health, care services, the police, education, other key workers and to countless volunteers. We have relied on them all to help us through the crisis. At the same time, we have all done our bit to keep things going, often under the most difficult of conditions. We must not put that hard work and sacrifice at risk.
Social solidarity is at the heart of the Labour movement. Never have we seen that more widely displayed than in Wales during these awful times. We have stood together, shoulder to shoulder, working, whenever we could, with the other devolved nations and the UK Government.
Here are some of the specific actions that we have taken to combat the pandemic.
The credit for every single one of them lies with those who have worked so hard to deliver them, with the support of your Welsh Labour Government, to:
- Inoculate more than one and a half million people with their first dose of the Covid vaccine in just over three months after the launch of the programme.
- Provide free PPE for everyone working in the NHS and in social care, including care homes.
- Set up the most successful Covid contact tracing system in the UK – a public service run by local people.
- Open the Grange University Hospital, on budget and ahead of time and secure 2,600 extra beds through our network of field hospitals in all parts of Wales and 5,000 additional beds in total during the winter.
- Protect more than 165,000 jobs by providing the most generous business support scheme in the UK.
- Deliver our multi-million pound Covid Commitment so everyone over 16 who has lost their job can get back into work or training or get help to start a business.
- Support our social care providers through our £150m Covid fighting fund and invested more than £24m to protect charities and promote volunteering.
- Help 3,200 people into temporary accommodation since March 2020 and help many more from becoming homeless.
- Deliver more than 200,000 food boxes to those shielding earlier in the crisis.
- Guarantee free school meals, during the holidays too, for all eligible pupils up to and including Easter 2022.
The people of Wales look out for each other; we care for those in difficulties, and we understand how much more we can achieve when we work together. Welsh Labour shares the same values and your Welsh Labour Government has shown how to put those values into action. No other party in Wales comes close to demonstrating that it can be trusted to do the right thing for all the people of Wales.
As we work together to move forward beyond the pandemic, Welsh Labour is fired with the ambition to create the different, sustainable, exciting Wales of the future, built on the values that make us the nation we are.
Welsh Labour has the experience and the vision to lead Wales’ recovery from the pandemic and we pledge to the people of Wales we will invest in our NHS to put it back on track, including a new medical school in North Wales; we will pay our care workers the Real Living Wage; we will fund up to 1,800 additional tutoring staff in schools to make sure our children are not left behind; we will offer our young people a guarantee of work, education, training, or self-employment; we will abolish the use of the most littered, single use plastics; we will put more police community support officers on our streets; we will build 20,000 new low carbon homes creating thousands of new jobs, as well as so much more.
When I look back over the difficult and testing months since March of last year, as well as the enduring sadness for lives and livelihoods lost and damaged, it is the thousands and thousands of small acts of kindness which I think will remain long in the memory. That is the experience, of looking out for and looking after each other, that we want to build on and take forward into the future.
In this manifesto, we set out exactly how we will create the kind of Wales that we all want. I urge you to read it and join us in Moving Wales Forward.
Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister