Wales Will Gain Most from Income Tax Changes for the Poor
Byline: dylan jones evans
AS expected, the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has made an immediate impact, with 22 new Bills announced in the Queen's speech.
As a result of devolution, some of these Bills apply only to England. For example, the Academies Bill will only allow English schools to apply to become academies and gain independence from Whitehall control, while the Health Bill will only give increased power and responsibility to doctors and nurses in England.
However, there are also those bills that will apply across the whole of the UK and it is worth considering which of these will have an effect on the wellbeing of Wales and its economy.
For example, the Welfare Reform Bill aims to get more than five million people off benefits and back into work by simplifying the benefits system and introducing better incentives.
With recent studies showing half of the top 10 areas for claiming incapacity benefit in the UK are to be found in Wales - Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly - this Bill will have a significant impact in Wales.
Given that hundreds of millions of pounds are already being spent via initiatives such as Communities First and other Convergence Funded programmes, there must be greater co-operation between the Department of Work and Pensions and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to ensure joined up thinking on this critical issue.
Wales also has the potential to benefit from the energy bill and the creation of a pounds 2bn green investment fund but only if we get our act together over renewable energy, particularly in supporting businesses that are developing micro-generation products.
To date there has been a lot of hot air about supporting green businesses in Wales, despite the presence of exemplars such as G24 Innovations in Cardiff and Dulas in Machynlleth.
If WAG is serious about exploiting the potential of a green investment fund, then it must begin to put some significant amounts of support behind the activities of companies within the low carbon sector.
The promise to ensure that high speed broadband is to be made available to millions of people living in remote parts of the country should also ensure that many parts of rural Wales become more accessible to businesses, especially those operating in the digital and low carbon economy.
The question is how Wales can lobby within Westminster to ensure that we become one of the first areas in which this new initiative is rolled out across the UK? Certainly, there should be an advantage in having the MPs for the two main constituencies of Mid Wales currently sitting on the government benches.
Finally, and most importantly, for anyone interested in the economic and social wellbeing of Wales, one of the most significant changes is the promise to raise income tax allowances so that 'low and middle income employees' will pay less than they do now. …