From Leanne Wood A.M.
Plaid has recently announced ourfirst policy for the UK General Election. We want to raise the basic state pension to the level of the current pension credit and make it universal for all OAPs. At a stroke, this would lift thousands of pensioners out of poverty in Wales and enable them to adequately heat their homes as well as eat properly. Not too much to ask in one of the richest economies in the world, is it? With winter deaths increasing last year by 74% in Wales, something clearly has to be done to help older people with rising fuel bills.
Our political rivals have scoffed at these measures, bleating about the cost of introducing a basic decent standard of living for pensioners. All three London-based parties are competing to see who can introduce the deepest cuts to the public sector to tackle the budget deficit.
Plaid rejects the widely peddled notion that pensioners have to suffer and public sector jobs have to be sacrificed in order to balance the books after the massive bank bail-out. Why should the most vulnerable and lowest paid be punished for the greed culture of the wealthiest amongst us?
As part of our policy, we explained how the scrapping of socially useless projects such as Trident and the watered-down ID card policy would more than cover the costs of rolling out the pension in the first phase for those aged 80 and over.
In time, a living pension could be rolled out to all those aged 65 and over if the UK Government was to increase the tax on those who can afford to pay more. Compass recently identified £50 billion worth of savings, taking into account the scrapping of Trident and the ID card system and by clamping down on tax havens, non-doms and introducing a 50% tax rate for those earning over £100,000.
With some analysts predicting a hung-parliament, Plaid’s representation in the House of Commons could provide crucial in determining who takes power. Our MPs have a reputation for punching above their weight and representing the interests of their constituents without having to acquiesce to a London-based party machine. Our pensions policy also lets people know that there is an alternative to the cuts-based agenda of the big three UK political parties - there are some candidates out there who will speak up for some of our most vulnerable people.