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  1. Nick Powell

Westminster coalition and Welsh Government both under fire at Plaid Conference

Plaid Cymru will continue to fight the so-called 'bedroom tax', an MP has told the party's conference, despite losing a vote at Westminster aimed at blocking the housing benefit cut.The government had a majority of more than 40, despite Labour's decision to support Plaid's motion in the Commons.

Arfon MP Hywel Williams told the conference in Beaumaris that the disabled and people who are unemployed or on low wages will have nowhere to turn. He said that while household incomes are constrained and homelessness continues to rise, the 'bedroom tax' will have extremely damaging consequences.

The bedroom tax is a devastating policy that will come into effect in April affecting 660,000 people, and 40,000 of them in Wales. This is simply another way in which UK Government is persecuting benefit claimants. It’s important to note that those who claim benefits are not ‘shirkers’ – the majority of them are in work, on low wages, and facing increased rent charges. With low household wages, how will people afford the penalty of between £418 and £1248 per year? To the shame of Cameron and Clegg, disabled people will have to choose between heating, eating or paying the rent.

– Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon

The conference was also told that the Welsh Government 'blames other people' rather than take responsibility for public services. But Plaid Cymru's education spokesperson said it's time for the Welsh Government 'to stop passing the buck' and that the education minister should keep his job.

The Welsh Government needs to break the link between educational attainment and poverty. We need early intervention for pupils so no child is left behind to ensure proper literacy levels for children leaving primary school. Today I’m calling on the First Minister to make sure the Education Minster Leighton Andrews stays in his job so we can properly scrutinise him for his policies.

– Plaid Cymru Education Spokesperson Simon Thomas AM

'Feeble climb-down' on minimum alcohol price - Plaid

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams has criticised the UK Government's minimum alcohol price plans as likely to have 'no meaningful impact.' He said:

Plaid Cymru believe that a minimum price of 50p per unit - as supported by leading health experts - would help save lives through cutting back on consumption, prevent alcohol related disorder, and also boost local economies by helping community pubs compete with supermarkets.

Moderate drinkers would barely notice the difference – certainly when compared to the amount of duty that is already paid to the Government.

It is therefore frustrating that the Coalition's proposals have been revealed as a feeble climb-down.

– Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru


'Illogical and short-sighted' - Plaid on Cameron's Housing Benefits proposal

Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams MP has given his response to the Prime Minister's welfare reform comments:

David Cameron’s plans to cut housing benefits for young people under 25 are illogical and short-sighted.

Most young people getting help with sky high housing costs are actually in work. He says they should 'move back in with their parents'. How will this encourage young people to take work? And what if they have ‘got on their bikes’ and the family home is hundreds of miles away from their place of work?

Equally the Prime Minister’s pet project of regionalized benefits is plain barmy. This would further institutionalise poverty and create employment ghettos in which the existing lack of jobs, prospects and ambition would be intensified rather than addressed.