Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has criticised the Labour Government for winding down its Communities First programme without providing a sufficient replacement scheme.
The Labour Minister Carl Sargeant had claimed Plaid Cymru would close the scheme down during a previous election campaign, saying it “was only safe with Labour”.
In a statement delivered to the National Assembly today, the Minister in fact confirmed that Communities First was being phased out by the Labour Welsh Government.
Responding to the statement, Leanne Wood, Rhondda AM and Plaid Cymru Leader, thanked the Communities First workforce for its contribution but noted that the scale and scope of the programme was never large enough to make significant inroads into poverty.
She went on to criticise the government for allocating the Communities First money to existing schemes like community buildings and ‘Public Service Boards’, which don’t appear to add up to an anti-poverty programme of any meaningful scale.
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood commented:
“Labour had previously accused Plaid Cymru of planning to close Communities First down. But it’s happening under them.
“The debate now needs to turn to what replaces Communities First.
“We didn’t get a good enough answer on that today.
“Given that we are talking about some of the most deprived communities in Europe, nothing in today’s Welsh Government statement showed the urgency with which we need to tackle poverty.
“All we got in the statement was a commitment to put money into existing schemes which are quite small in financial value. Schemes like community buildings are welcome but aren’t of a big enough size to really reduce poverty.
“Labour is walking away from Communities First areas without putting in place an ambitious anti-poverty programme to replace it.”
• Mr Sargeant, as a Labour candidate, accused Plaid Cymru of wanting to scrap Communities First, and claimed it would only be safe with Labour, in April 2011; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-12978518