Our joint letter, published in today’s (24 February) Western Mail, calls on all political parties to commit to maintaining and strengthening public standards and enforcement in Wales ahead of the 2021 Senedd elections.
We write as organisations from across Welsh civic society, representing many different interests and public policy priorities. However, we are united in our shared belief in the crucial importance of effective regulation, and the need for proper funding for those public protectors charged with regulatory enforcement.
In Wales, it has been long maintained that sensible, properly-enforced regulations can deliver diverse social, environmental and economic benefits, and protect Welsh interests.
However, in the light of the UK’s exit from the EU, and with the Covid-19 pandemic putting extraordinary pressure on Welsh Government and Welsh Council budgets, we fear that a combination of deregulatory ambition on the part of the Westminster government, together with gaps in Welsh enforcement capability may, if unaddressed, compromise the achievement of ambitious social and environmental goals in Wales.
The report published today by Unchecked, “Safeguarding standards: why Wales should lead the way” looks at environmental standards, employee protections, and public health and wellbeing safeguards, highlighting the ways in which these risk being undermined in Wales, and flagging the opportunities to ensure these standards are protected. It also exposes a huge ‘enforcement gap’ in Wales, with many regulators struggling to fulfil their statutory duties.
Never has it been more important to invest in our collective safeguards. Along with Unchecked, and ahead of the 2021 Senedd elections, we call on all political parties to commit to doing all in their power to:
- Continue to make the case for maintaining and strengthening public standards after Brexit, to oppose any moves to deregulate vital public protections
- In areas of devolved policy, to use all available levers within their control to improve public standards and protections
- Advocate for (and in areas overseen domestically, implement) strong enforcement of regulations, underpinned by properly-resourced regulators and transparent reporting
Emma Rose, Unchecked UK
Rachel Sharpe, Director, Wildlife Trusts Wales
Kate Thompson, Director, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Wales
Joseph Carter, Head of Devolved Nations, Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Wales/ Healthy Air Cymru
Holly Tomlinson, Policy Coordinator, Landworkers Alliance Cymru
Ruth Brady, Regional Secretary, GMB Wales & South West
Nick Ireland, Divisional Officer, USDAW South Wales & Western Division
Karen Loughlin, Regional Secretary, Unison Wales
Shavanah Taj, General Secretary, Wales TUC
Darren Williams, National Officer for Wales and the South West, The Public and Commercial Services Union