Our vision for a better society

What's Plaid vision for a just and equal society?

Unfortunately, many of the financial levers that can make a real difference to the lives of people living in poverty in Wales are unavailable to the National Assembly for Wales. No part of the tax and benefits system is devolved for example, and the National Assembly does not even have the power to raise its own money. However, Plaid recognises that continued poverty and inequality in our society hurt everybody in the long term and that we must work together as a nation to raise living standards. We know that in a fair and prosperous Wales, everyone has the right to a decent job, to receive support during hard times, and to enjoy a dignified retirement. We believe that it is the duty of the wealthiest in society to help care for the most vulnerable.

Plaid Cymru is opposed to welfare reform which links benefit payments to work and threatens benefit sanctions for those unable to meet unfair and unrealistic government demands. Plaid believes that these proposals will simply result in a vicious cycle of people who live between in-work and out-of-work poverty.

Plaid Cymru in government will make the abolition of child poverty a top priority. We will press for a move away from complex and expensive means testing for child-related benefits. Pensioner poverty is also endemic with many facing the invidious choice of eating a meal or heating their homes. Providing a decent pension is part of the answer to that problem. Many of the most elderly pensioners do not claim pension credit at all, mistakenly believing it to be a benefit, not an entitlement. Because legislation on pensions is not devolved, Plaid will instead continue to campaign for the introduction of a living pension during the period of the next parliament for those aged 80 and over. In the longer term, when the state of the public finances allows, we would lower the qualifying age.

Plaid Cymru will continue to make sure that the eradication of fuel poverty is kept high on the political agenda in future, intensifying the pressure on energy companies to offer a fair deal to its consumers while looking to develop government schemes to promote energy efficiency. Plaid in government has already launched the 'Arbed' scheme which will bring around £1bn of energy efficiency improvements to houses in the most deprived areas over the next decade and we will be looking to develop these schemes further in the future. By 2012 the scheme will have provided £30m worth of improvements and by 2018 the scheme will be closing in on delivering almost a billion pounds worth of improvements. We believe this will contribute hugely to hitting the ambitious targets the Welsh government sets for itself in this area.

Plaid Cymru recognises the invaluable contribution that migrants have made to Wales. Our civic nationalism celebrates tolerance, mutual understanding and difference. Equally, we recognise the potential shared benefits of greater co-operation in asylum and immigration at EU level, and the important role that Europe could play in assisting the integration of new migrants including in the languages of the stateless nations.

We condemn the point-scoring used by other parties and the pandering to unfounded xenophobic prejudices in the debate on immigration. We oppose a points-based system, which we know would take no account of the skills requirements in different parts of Wales..

Plaid Cymru also supports the right of asylum seekers to work in Wales while they wait for status decisions to be made and we call for the speeding up of the unnecessarily complicated asylum system. We condemn the practice of housing recently-arrived asylum seekers, especially children, in "detention" or "removal" centres as punitive and cruel, and we will continue to lobby the Westminster government to ensure that they keep their promise to shut these centres.