5 Reasons to Vote Plaid Cymru

As part of our election coverage, we've been asking each party the top five reasons why students should vote for them. Here's what Plaid Cymru had to say...

Why should students vote for Plaid Cymru?

Plaid Cymru logo Unlike the three main political parties, Plaid Cymru has always opposed tuition fees. We voted against Labour’s introduction of tuition fees in 1998 and its decision to increase fees to £3000 in 2004. We also voted against the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats Coalition Government’s decision to increase fees to a maximum of £9000 for students starting their courses after September 2012.

Plaid Cymru -The Party of Wales is a party for the whole of Wales – rural and urban, regardless of background, language or where you are from. Unlike the other parties, we are not tied to London party bosses, we are ready to take on Westminster and we will stand up for you, the people of Wales.

Our priorities for the General Election are: fair funding for Wales - ensuring Wales gets the same deal on funding and powers as Scotland; saving and strengthening our NHS – a 1000 extra doctors and more ambulances; getting Wales working again - 50,000 jobs with local contracts for Welsh companies; building a fairer economy- increase the minimum wage to a living wage for 250,000 workers and zero business rates for 70,000 Welsh Companies.

1) Tuition fees

We will scrap tuition fees as soon as public finances allow. We are fighting for Wales to receive the same funding per head as Scotland and this extra £1.2 billion a year in funding would make free tuition for students who live in Wales possible. In the meantime, we will pay towards the fees of students who live in Wales and study at Welsh universities and students at universities elsewhere in the UK if their courses are not available in Wales, for example, veterinary studies. We will provide free tuition for subjects in which there are skills gaps in Wales such as medicine, science, technology, mathematics and engineering. We will also provide free tuition for students from deprived backgrounds. We will use the £90m each year paid from Wales to English universities in tuition fees funding to pay for this policy and others below. This could pay for up to 18,000 students each year to have tuition free education once those who are currently in the system have graduated.

2) Jobs

A major concern for students is being able to find a decent job after graduation. Plaid Cymru will create 50,000 jobs in Wales by giving more Welsh public sector contracts to companies working in Wales. We will also gradually introduce a living wage so that it is in place by 2020. This way, businesses won’t suddenly face higher employment costs, and will have no excuse for making any redundancies. We estimate that the living wage will be at least £9 per hour by 2020.

A living wage will save the UK Government £1.5 billion a year once in place through fewer benefits paid and more taxes received. We believe that any advantages gained by the Government through savings should be re-invested into infrastructure spending that will create more jobs. We also want to end exploitative zero hours contracts that tie workers to a company while not giving them a guaranteed weekly income. We will develop Carmarthen, Aberystwyth and the Menai area as centres for Welsh business, ensuring funding to support businesses across West and North-West Wales and helping them to recruit and use the Welsh language in their everyday business. We will develop a bespoke strategy to support Welsh speakers to become entrepreneurs and develop their own businesses.

3) Skills

Young people should have the skills they need to gain and retain meaningful employment after leaving university or college. This means investing in apprenticeships and further education as well as higher education. Plaid Cymru will invest in apprenticeships, including higher level apprenticeships in skilled industries. Our aim is to support 30,000 apprenticeships. We will expand the Young Recruits Programme which subsidises employers who take on apprentices. We will use European funding to pay for this.

We will develop a Welsh Civil Service College and a Green Skills College. The Green Skills College will provide training opportunities for the unemployed, young people and Small/Medium Enterprises by focusing on emerging renewable and sustainable technologies and skills.

4) Homes

Many young people find it difficult to rent or buy their own home after graduation. We will help first time buyers and provide stronger rights for tenants. We believe that taxpayers’ money should be used to support first time buyers to remain in their community, not subsidize developers and help existing home owners upgrade to bigger homes. We will extend the HomeBuy scheme to allow first time buyers to get on the property ladder. We will implement rent controls to ensure affordability of rental housing.

We will also reform tenancy laws. These reform would include: providing for long-term lets for those who want them; limiting annual increases in rent; and ensuring transparency of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.

5) A greener Wales

Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. We will introduce a Climate Change Act for Wales, adopting challenging but achievable greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 and 2050. Wales is rich in natural resources and we want to see all powers over Wales’ natural resources devolved to Wales. Through encouraging investment in energy generation through renewable sources rather than fossil fuel extraction Wales could become self-sufficient in renewable electricity and this would provide both environmental and economic benefits.

We will also invest in a nationwide home retrofitting scheme using local businesses to carry out work to improve energy efficiency. This would be paid for through our commitment to 1% extra of UK GDP to infrastructure investment each year. This would secure £800m to invest in Welsh infrastructure projects each year. We will create more sustainable infrastructure with a particular focus on better housing, public transport, leisure and education facilities, developing urban green areas and cycle routes.

We've been speaking to other political parties over the past few weeks as part of our election coverage.

For more in the series check out:

and stay tuned (if you can do that on a webpage) for more from the other parties.

For more on the election, see our student voting survey to see how students intend to vote...