28/05/2014 The Wales Report


28/05/2014

Bethan Rhys Roberts asks how poverty is being tackled in Wales. Has a Welsh Government flagship scheme made the promised difference? And the fall-out from the European elections.


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Transcript


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As the dust settles on last week?s European elections, we speak to

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the victors, UKIP, who narrowly missed topping the poll here.

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Where next for the Liberal Democrats in Wales?

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And is a flagship Welsh Government scheme aimed at tackling poverty

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in the most deprived communities in Wales working?

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Good evening and welcome to The Wales Report.

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On tonight?s programme, the results of last week?s European

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elections are still being digested across Wales.

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On the surface, there?s no change, the same four parties,

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the Conservatives, Labour, Plaid Cymru and UKIP, still have one

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seat each representing Wales in the European Parliament.

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But the political landscape here has been radically altered,

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with UKIP narrowly missing the top spot in Wales.

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It was a very different night for the Liberal Democrats, who

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performed badly across the board, losing all but one of their MEPs.

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For the first time in Wales, the party was pushed into sixth

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In Blaenau Gwent, the party was beaten by the BNP.

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So, what does all of this mean for the future of the party?

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The Liberal Democrats are bruised and battered and in need of a fight

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to get them back into the general election. Imagine what Wales' most

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famous liberal would have made of this.

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David Lloyd George - a radical, a reformer and the only Welsh

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politician to make his home in Number 10.

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But despite his successes, his coalition partnership played

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Falling to sixth place in the European election shows their

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support has shifted elsewhere. They will need more of the courage their

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leader in Wales spoke of last year. We took a courageous decision back

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in 2010. But will they be attempting their fightback with Nick Clegg in

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charge? He is adamant he will not walk away but is that a wise choice

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when voters seem to be running from the party?

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Joining me now is the party?s leader in Wales, Kirsty Williams.

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Is Nick Clegg the right man to lead you? Yes, he is. He has had the

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courage of his convictions to make a positive case about what the Liberal

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Democrats and the Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in. He had the

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courage to do what was right for the country by taking the party into a

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coalition government. The voters don't buy it. In this election, the

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results show we have not been successful in getting that message

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across to people but it is going to take more than one election talking

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positively about why we should be part of Europe. Perhaps we should

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have talked more about how we want to change you rip to make it work

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better for Wales. But he is the person to take us forward. He is a

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friend. Have you spoken to him? I have not spoken to him but I have

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exchanged text messages. He is tired and disappointed, as disappointed as

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I am to see the results coming from the European elections, but he is

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determined to stick to his guns and continued to play what is a very

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important role. Is he listening? A 4% share of the vote in Wales. How

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bad does it have to get for him to listen? He is listening, he

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understands that these are bad results. But simply walking away

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would be to undo all the hard work of being the Deputy Prime Minister,

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being in a coalition government. It is one thing to walk away from the

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leadership, but you would not have to leave the coalition. There is no

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leadership issue. What we need to do now is acknowledged that it has been

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a very difficult week for the Liberal Democrats and we have to get

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back on track, speaking quite clearly to the British and Welsh

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public about what the Liberal Democrats are for. Just to be

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absolutely clear, he has said he has never considered his position.

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Shirley Williams says he has. You are adamant that he should not

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consider his position, he should carry on, business as usual. I could

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not be any clearer. I think Nick Clegg is the right man to lead this

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party into the general section. We need to redouble our efforts in

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explaining to this country what the Liberal Democrats are achieving as

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part of this government and what we are for. You have been trying to do

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that for years. It is not working. What we need to do is to be

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absolutely clear with people about what they get if they support the

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Liberal Democrats. In the past we have been the repository for many

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protest votes. We can't be that now that we have taken the step of being

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a party in government. We have to demonstrate that we have taken that

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responsible decision, we are capable of being a party in government, we

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stick to our values and do the things we want to do, which is

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making sure there is a strong economy, which means people get back

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to work and we can use the proceeds of that to help the poorest in

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society. And that is your mantra. I suggest it has not worked. Was it a

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mistake to go into coalition with the Conservatives? You were not keen

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and in Wales you did not fancy the rainbow coalition on the table which

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did include the Conservatives. You were far more keen to go with

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Labour. Have you been proved right? It is not a question about who has

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been proved right. The party was faced with a very challenging

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decision. The public had decided not to give one party and overall

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majority. The easy choice and the safest choice for the party would

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have been to have walked away. But let's be clear what would have

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happened, the economy would have been in even more serious trouble,

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they would have been a snap election. So why aren't voters

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thanking you? We would have been decimated. We took the responsible

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choice to go into a coalition government to try and sort out the

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economy. And you have paid heavily for that choice. Was it the wrong

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choice? No, because what would have happened would have been disastrous

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for the country. It would have been a disaster to go with Labour? If you

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look at the Sims, it did not add up. We would not have had a stable

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government which could have lasted five years. The Labour Party were in

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no position to enter into that agreement. I was in London and the

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behaviour of the likes of Ed Balls demonstrated they were not taking

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that option seriously. Would it help you going into the next general

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election to say, we will not renew this deal with the Conservatives? We

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cannot rule in or out any coalition because that is not our choice, it

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is the choice of the people of this country. When you next text Nick

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Clegg, what will be your word of advice? We have got to get out there

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and we have got to be clear and distinctive in our message about

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what the Liberal Democrats are for. We are a party capable of being in

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government, taking the tough decisions to make sure our economy

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gets on track, but we need to be clear about how the recovery is

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there, which is how we can invest in public services to make sure

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everybody has a decent education and a decent health services and

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services they can rely on. Thank you.

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The fall-out from last week?s vote is still far from clear.

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Big questions are being asked of all the parties as we approach

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For UKIP, those questions concentrate

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on the party?s ability to replicate their European success both

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The party?s Welsh representative, Nathan Gill, says that the results

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prove that Wales is ?just as Eurosceptic as the rest of the UK?.

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If UKIP have caused a political earthquake, where does

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their performance in Wales register on the Richter Scale?

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Well, the ground hasn?t opened up and swallowed the other parties,

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but Farage and friends have certainly shaken the status quo.

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The single most remarkable result last night was in Wales.

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With 28% of the vote, UKIP have galvanised support

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across the country, picking up more than 114,000 votes since 2009.

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Politics dressed in purple taking votes from those in more tried and

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tested colours. ?The Valleys are ours

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for the taking?, say UKIP, and in their sights, a handful

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of AMs with seats in the Senedd. But will their anti-EU

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and anti-immigration platform be what voters are looking for in next

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year?s General Election and beyond And as the focus shifts away

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from Europe, will UKIP have answers on education,

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on the economy and healthcare? I?m joined now by Wales? newest MEP,

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UKIP?s Nathan Gill. You are heading to Brussels, we know

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what your long-term aim is, to abolish that institution. In the

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meantime, how will you be fighting for the people of Wales? I am going

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to have to take a period of bedding in when I find out what my role is.

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But it is important for me when I get there to find out exactly what

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it is that is being done there for the people of Wales and what is

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being done with our money and what the institutions are going to be

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putting on to us with regards to legislation and all those things and

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bring that information back to the people of Wales so that they can be

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informed as to what is going on in these institutions. What about jobs

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for Wales? How are you going to secure more jobs? I fail to see how

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an MEP can secure more jobs for Wales. The reality is, MEPs have

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very little power, this is something we have been saying all along, when

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people understand how the institutions work in Brussels, the

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MEPs are just a veneer of democracy. So this is a pretty expensive

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fact-finding mission because it does not sound as if you are going to be

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doing anything. This is a very expensive layer of government we

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want to get rid of. Every MEP costs the British taxpayer ?1.25 million.

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Will you take your whole salary? We want to get rid of this. Why not set

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an example and say you do not need these allowances, you do not need

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this salary? With regard to allowances, every time you turn up

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to Brussels, there is a 304 euros daily allowance they are claiming.

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We personally donate from our net wages towards the cause that we

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believe in, towards getting us out of that eat you. The focus now

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shifts because we know where you stand on Europe, we know where you

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stand on the institutions. The focus very firmly switches to domestic

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issues. We know where you stand on immigration. Health and education,

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bread and butter issues, are your big challenge. We know you won't go

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into specifics until your manifesto is out in September, but is the NHS

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a good thing? Absolutely, and we support it 100%. One of the sad

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thing during this campaign was that the Labour Party, funded with the

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help of the unions, went out and basically spread a lot of lies about

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UKIP policy. What about private sector involvement in the NHS? You

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need to wait about September to our manifesto. In principle? If we can

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make the NHS provide a better service for the people of Wales

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crossed it --, that is what we want. Testing in education in principle,

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are children tested enough? In principle it is always good to test

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and find out where we are and where we stand. On the economy, posterity,

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is that the right road for the British economy? As with any

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household, you have a budget and you have got to live within your means.

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It is about time that the British government learned to do what the

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British housewife and house and families have had to do all along,

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live within their means. Quite frankly, we are a party of, we have

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been saying all along, we have got to get things under control. We have

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got to stop borrowing money off our grandchildren to pay for things

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today. Way to you stand on devolution these days? Do you want

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to scrap the assembly these days? Our policy has unfortunately has to

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change and I say unfortunately because I was involved in the

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anti-assembly movement but what we have said as a party is that we

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believe in referendum. If the people of Wales, as they have now spoken

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into referendum, they say they want the assembly, it would be very

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hypocritical of us to say they are wrong and so we now support the

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people of Wales. 's immigration is your big theme but

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people of Wales. 's immigration is your big this is a different kind of

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immigration. You live on Anglesey where Welsh is the language of the

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street and it is changing to English. Should that they are

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concerned, the integration of English into Wales? I am originally

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from England and my wife is from America but our children go to war

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Welsh language: They are learning Welsh. I spend an hour every night

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listening to them reading their books to me. We fully support the

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Welsh language but we think if you constantly use a stick to get people

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to speak Welsh or use Welsh it will not work. We need more carrots to

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encourage people to use this wonderful part of our heritage. How

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will we measure the success of you as an MP over your first term?

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Hopefully we will have a referendum and we will lose -- and leave the EU

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and I will be out of a job. Is a Welsh Government flagship

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scheme aimed at tackling poverty across Wales

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delivering the changes it promised? Communities First was set up with

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the aim of improving health, education and the economy of Wales?

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most deprived areas. But over a decade on,

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and nearly ?400 million later, As part of a BBC Wales season

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looking at poverty in Wales, David More than 40 years ago, as a junior

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reporter on the local evening paper in Swansea, I was acutely aware of

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the effects of poverty and deprivation on a place they called

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the hill. It had sprawling estates on the outskirts of Wales's second

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city and it is still there. So other problems. Over the years it seems

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there has been an insidious creep of an unwritten policy to lump and some

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would say dump together the poor and those in need in places like this.

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Mayhill is cut off from the rest of the world in subtle ways. An island

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of deprivation surrounded by areas of welfare and well-being. According

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to the statistics you will not see much of the good life here and you

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never did and you will not any time soon. And yet, and yet, millions of

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pounds of public money has been poured into black spots like this...

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At this point a young man living on the street happened to hear what I

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was saying, right outside his house, and initially came out to

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remonstrate with me because he was understandably offended by the

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thought that I was deliberately stood with -- deliberately

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stigmatising people like himself. When you hear people like me walking

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past your house and calling it an area of deprivation and poverty,

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doesn't upset you? -- upset me? Yes, that definitely upsets me. I do not

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smoke, I smoke cigarettes. Well, that is smoking! I thought you were

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saying about drugs. Unpalatable though they may be, the latest

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statistics relating to this area paint a grim picture. The gulf in

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life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas remains one of the

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biggest in Wales. Statistics suggest that the Mayhill community is one of

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the poorest in Wales and the least healthy. The average life expectancy

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of a male here is just 69 years, that is eight years left than the

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average for Wales. 38% of households here have one or more people living

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in them with long-term illness. The Wales averages just 30%. Stephen

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Ellis is a statistic, although in reality he is much more than that.

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Now volunteer at the local community centre, at the age of 14 he suffered

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a major back injury which has left him permanently disabled. He is

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often in pain and unable to work. Life is not easy for a disabled

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person on an estate like Mayhill but Stephen remains remarkably positive.

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I am optimistic and I believe that if people get off their bums and

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make an effort and do things and manage their lifestyle better, food,

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exercise, etc, what we need is people to take charge of their

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lives, take charge of the hill that they live on. I am hoping that this

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is a look of the past. The local surgery for the GP has a look and

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feel of a place under siege, not just because of the external

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security wire. Inside the medical staff are firefighting on a whole

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range of fronts. As GPs we have got to tackle what we can tackle and we

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can do better is to do more of the stuff like having more appointments

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with bigger buildings and more consulting rooms and more staff and

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more worker bees and giving people as much time as it takes because now

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we are stretched. I see 50 or 60 patients a day and that whittled

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down to having ten minutes to see me and saw the problem out and that is

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all. That is why we need more of us. There have been various attempts to

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change the depressingly repetitive position at the bottom of clinically

:20:51.:20:56.

calculated health tables. Publicly funded schemes like Communities

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First, aimed at reducing inequalities was launched 13 years

:21:01.:21:05.

ago by the Welsh government as a flagship programme to reduce poverty

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and inequality. It is being trumpeted by successive

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administrations and almost ?400 million of public money has been

:21:16.:21:19.

poured into supporting the policy. The focal point of this scheme used

:21:20.:21:24.

to be this community centre and this was the man who steered it for it --

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through its formative stages. More recently it has been taken over by

:21:31.:21:34.

Swansea City Council. Now there is real concern that the move has added

:21:35.:21:40.

an unnecessary level of bureaucracy at the very time when the scheme

:21:41.:21:45.

seemed to be working well. We have been working with a large

:21:46.:21:47.

bureaucracy with the Welsh government through many tears all

:21:48.:21:50.

the way down to grassroots level and that is a big issue that we have. We

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need to see the will of the ministers and their policies in the

:21:55.:22:04.

big policy documents and then we need as few layers as possible to

:22:05.:22:07.

get down to the grassroots so we need to be looking at really

:22:08.:22:09.

targeting resources at the front line and not taking that tiered

:22:10.:22:11.

bureaucratic approach to changing someone's life at a grassroots

:22:12.:22:17.

level. 18 months ago Swansea City Council took over the running of the

:22:18.:22:21.

community's first project here. I wanted to speak to somebody down

:22:22.:22:25.

there about how they were getting on up here. Or not. It would seem that

:22:26.:22:34.

there was plenty to talk about. Swansea has been given health city

:22:35.:22:40.

status by no less an outfit than the world health organisation. The aim

:22:41.:22:45.

is to improve health for all in this city. Despite our repeated requests

:22:46.:22:51.

for an interview nobody from Swansea City Council was prepared to talk to

:22:52.:22:58.

us on camera. What they told us off camera was that they had only been

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running the first initiative -- in the Communities First initiative for

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ten months and it was impossible to reflect the true impact of their

:23:09.:23:13.

work on health inequalities in the areas concerned. Any comment on

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health inequalities the council people told us should be taken up

:23:20.:23:27.

with the health board. So we did. The health board is confident that

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it is influencing communities -- Communities First by supporting big

:23:33.:23:37.

projects instead of a lot of smaller ones and focusing on communities

:23:38.:23:42.

finding their own solutions to their own issues. What about the big

:23:43.:23:47.

picture? The overall responsibility for the running of Communities First

:23:48.:23:52.

projects in this area? The council said that that is a matter for the

:23:53.:23:58.

Welsh government. Those who know, those who deal with the problems

:23:59.:24:02.

associated with poverty and health inequalities on a daily basis, tell

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me that it is not just a question of money and it is certainly not about

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adding another layer of bureaucracy in the hope that it will do the

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trick. If there is to be any change in the depressingly familiar cycle

:24:16.:24:20.

poverty and deprivation in places like Mayhill then people here need

:24:21.:24:23.

to to be listening to what people out there are telling them.

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David Williams reporting. Joining me now is Vaughan Gething from Labour.

:24:31.:24:38.

Are you listening to places like this? Yes, since I was appointed I

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have been given primary responsibility for the tackling

:24:44.:24:45.

poverty action plan that draws together all of our resources.

:24:46.:24:53.

Communities First is one of those and it covers the deprived

:24:54.:24:57.

communities that make up one in four people in Wales. It is a big

:24:58.:25:01.

footprint. Communities First is not the only agent and cannot be solely

:25:02.:25:06.

responsible for tackling poverty. Let us look at Communities First. We

:25:07.:25:09.

are talking about ?400 million in the last four years, what is to show

:25:10.:25:15.

for it? It will not tackle poverty on its own. What has it done? The

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most important thing it can do is to change the life chances of people so

:25:22.:25:26.

we are getting big services into our poorest communities, for example the

:25:27.:25:29.

way that health and education work in these particular communities and

:25:30.:25:32.

the way job opportunities work. It has done a number of things but it

:25:33.:25:38.

is not just Communities First on its own. We are looking at that this

:25:39.:25:42.

evening. It used to be 157 partnerships and now it is right

:25:43.:25:46.

down. You heard in the report the gentleman running the community, who

:25:47.:25:54.

set it up in Mayhill, saying there is too much bureaucracy and they do

:25:55.:25:57.

not know who is in charge. Are you listening to people like that when

:25:58.:25:59.

you are reforming Communities First? It was reformed because of a number

:26:00.:26:03.

of different concerns about having too many different organisations

:26:04.:26:06.

running a Communities First partnership which is why bigger and

:26:07.:26:09.

more robust clusters are in place and some have a model like Swansea

:26:10.:26:13.

where the local authority is the lead delivery body and manages the

:26:14.:26:17.

service and others like Anglesey have the local authority as the lead

:26:18.:26:20.

body but there was a community interest Company. Effectively the

:26:21.:26:24.

community are running Communities First directly themselves. There are

:26:25.:26:32.

a range of different models that are all trying to get to the best

:26:33.:26:35.

outcome and that is what I am interested in, what is going to

:26:36.:26:37.

improve out -- outcomes for people and I am interested in what works.

:26:38.:26:41.

You have to have the health board on board and have services in there to

:26:42.:26:45.

help people find work and you need a focus on educational achievement as

:26:46.:26:49.

well. That is why I want a Communities First to have a more

:26:50.:26:54.

joined up relationship with flying start where they exist together as

:26:55.:26:58.

well. It is drawing together all of these interventions to make the

:26:59.:27:01.

biggest difference possible for families and communities. It is only

:27:02.:27:05.

one pillar, isn't it? Looking at the big picture and this morning we have

:27:06.:27:09.

a report out from Save The Children suggesting that the target of

:27:10.:27:13.

eradicating child poverty right across the UK, including here in

:27:14.:27:17.

Wales, will not happen by 2020, it is not, is it? Isn't it time to

:27:18.:27:22.

readjust the target? No, we're not moving away from the target, I said

:27:23.:27:32.

this when I was appointed and I will keep on saying it. We will maintain

:27:33.:27:35.

the target and the ambition we have to eradicate child poverty. We

:27:36.:27:37.

recognise it is a huge challenge and what Save The Children were saying

:27:38.:27:40.

today recognises the impact of tax and benefit reform and the fact it

:27:41.:27:42.

is making people poorer and not wealthier. We need a significant

:27:43.:27:45.

turnaround in the economy so that work pays much more and we need to

:27:46.:27:51.

see a different direction on tax and benefit because the deliberate

:27:52.:27:54.

policy being followed is actually making people in the lowest bits of

:27:55.:27:58.

income is poorer and not wealthier and that is a really big challenge

:27:59.:28:03.

for all of us. Just to be clear, you think that child poverty in Wales

:28:04.:28:07.

will be eradicated in six years time? I think it is a really big

:28:08.:28:11.

challenge to reach that and achieve that but I see no benefit whatsoever

:28:12.:28:16.

in changing the target or removing it. There must be a really collect

:28:17.:28:21.

-- a real collective will and effort to achieve the target. If we pull

:28:22.:28:25.

back from the target and say we will not achieve it I think people will

:28:26.:28:28.

take their put off the pedal and that is abandoning people to their

:28:29.:28:32.

feet -- fate and we will not do that. I want to get to Twenty20 and

:28:33.:28:40.

do all that we can to which you that target and if we don't we need to

:28:41.:28:43.

honestly reflect about what we have not done and what we need to do more

:28:44.:28:45.

of. Thank you very much. If you?d like to get in touch

:28:46.:28:51.

about the issues discussed please

:28:52.:28:57.

On the Wales Report with Bethan Rhys Roberts - tackling poverty across Wales. Has a Welsh Government flagship scheme made the difference it promised? And we discuss the fall-out from last week's European elections.


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