Plaid Cymru calls for restoration of support for Family Fund
Plaid Cymru has today highlighted the concerns of thousands of families with disabled children regarding Labour’s severe cuts to the Family Fund. Organisations including Carers Wales, Contact a Family Cymru and Learning Disability Wales have been campaigning against these cuts for several months.
The Family Fund supports over 5,000 low income families across Wales each year. The fund distributes public money across Wales, and the UK, in the form of grants to families with sick and disabled children.
Whilst the fund has been maintained in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Welsh Government has slashed funding to just 20% of its previous level for next year, meaning over 4,000 families will lose out every year. The fund is the only mechanism for directly distributing money to these families
Speaking after an Assembly debate called by Plaid Cymru aimed at reversing the cuts, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care said:
“You can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable. And currently we are not scoring very highly on this. If even the Tories have decided to maintain this fund in England, then Labour’s failure to maintain it is inexcusable. Whether the decision to take away the money was intentional or merely an unforeseen consequence of changing the funding model is neither here nor there – I want the decision reversed.
“The Welsh Government’s decision was as a result of its requirement that the Family Fund must apply for its funding from the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector Grant Scheme.
“A scheme with maximum available grant of £500,000 each year. This compares to the previous funding of around £2.5 million a year. No other nation has made this decision, and just last week, England announced a continuation of funding at current levels for the next 3 years.”
Speaking on the Labour Welsh Government amendment to the Plaid Cymru debate, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM said:
“Unfortunately, The Labour Government amendment to this debate fails to acknowledge or address the direct financial impact on low income families with disabled children of cutting over £5.5million over three years. Over 4000 families per year in Wales are now unable to access an annual average grant of £500.
“It’s just not good enough.”
Also speaking after of the debate, Plaid Cymru’s Dai Lloyd AM for South Wales West said:
“We cannot let Wales fall behind the rest of the UK in this regard. The Welsh Government needs to take positive steps to ensure that families across Wales are afforded similar levels of support as families across the rest of the UK.
“Today’s vote is a test of the Welsh Labour Government’s claims on social justice. It is time to step up to the plate, and protect this funding for a highly vulnerable group of people.”
Bethan Jenkins, Plaid’s spokesperson for communities and poverty and member for South Wales West said:
“How does Labour think families will cope, when many currently rely on the Family Fund for vital household items or supporting equipment to help with care? Their arguments that current funding will be maintained, that they are just changing the source, are clearly misleading – Unless they haven’t read their own budget figures.
“This is a question of priorities. Is it a priority to make absolutely sure that the most vulnerable people in our society are properly looked after or is it not? For myself and Plaid Cymru it is a number one priority, it’s a shame a Labour Welsh government doesn’t seem to agree anymore”