On Monday afternoon there was a very useful question that emerged at the end of the Topical Questions to the Work and Pensions Department. The question came from the MP for Swansea West. Geraint Davies was brought up in Cardiff and his parents are Welsh. His Mother is from Swansea and his Father is from Aberystwyth but in his political career he was a Councillor in Croydon from 1986 – 1997 which included a final year as the leader of the Council and he then became a Croydon MP from 1997 – 2005. Five years later he re-emerged as the Swansea West MP so he has been an MP for our Parliament for 19 years. He clearly has plenty of experience of how the Government and the UK economy operates having spent 11 years in the Croydon Council and 8 years as a Croydon MP and he has now spent 11 years as a Welsh MP so he has a good opportunity to see the work that is taking place in the UK and in Wales. Of course his one downside for the Government is that he is a Labour MP and so his views are clearly not going to be well accepted by a Conservative Minister which is very sad as the extent to which they are interested in ideas from Wales appears to be very low. The question which can be obtained here is
Every day, 7.6 million people go without sufficient nutritious food, according to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, so will the Secretary of State look carefully at the Welsh Government’s pilot for a universal basic income, and will she provide an estimate for the cost of a UK roll-out of a universal basic income?
Geraint is a member of the Committee so he is very aware of the work they do, even though it is chaired by Neil Parish who is a Conservative MP and like most Committees has more Conservative MPs than any members of any other party. The response to his question came from Therese Coffey who is the Secretary of State for DWP and she has been an MP since 2010 so her active political experience, even though she is a senior Minister is only for the last 11 years. She is an MP from Suffolk and she has worked on a number of roles within the Government but she has been in DWP since 2019. Here is her response
Ah, my favourite question on UBI. The answer is no. If the Welsh Government wish to use the extra money they receive through the Barnett formula to undertake other aspects, the question is whether it is within their legal powers to do so. I am conscious that we all want to make sure that food insecurity comes to an end, and that is why we are working across Government to tackle it.
It is clearly very disturbing that a pilot activity to try to end food poverty is being treated as not something the Government are willing to look at, even if UBI is not something they are currently considering. It is a scheme that is taking place in other nations to find ways to protect people their Governments care for. If the Welsh Government can help resolve aspects of the current poverty that is impacting on over 7 million people in the UK then this should be applauded not rejected so quickly by someone who is less experienced than Geraint Davies in terms of Politics across our Nation.