A message from Jane Hutt AS/MS Deputy Minister and Chief Whip
Coronavirus has had a significant impact on all countries around the world and Wales. As well as the risks to health, the consequences are affecting every part of our society, including people and communities that were already vulnerable or disadvantaged.
The impact on the voluntary sector in Wales has been severe, including loss of income and activities being suspended. In spite of these challenges, the sector has responded superbly to the crisis, with many organisations adapting the services and support they provide to meet unprecedented needs in our communities. In addition, thousands of new volunteers have come forward, many of whom have indicated they want to continue supporting their neighbours and communities through recovery and beyond.
There are ongoing concerns about community safety and community cohesion, including in particular victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. We are continuing to work closely with our partners to ensure our communities are safe and that victims and survivors receive support and advice as Covid-19 restrictions are eased.
As Minister with responsibility for Equality, I am very conscious that Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on some people, including women, BAME and disabled people. Over the past few months I have made it a priority to meet frequently with key stakeholders from these and other equality networks. Their advice has been crucial in helping us to identify and quickly address issues arising from the pandemic. I am very grateful for their support.
I also recognise that economic inequality is likely to widen during a recession, reinforcing the need for vigilance to ensure that we are mindful of the impacts of our decisions and policies on the most disadvantaged. In relation to this, I can confirm that the socio- economic Duty (Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010) will be commenced this Senedd term coming into force on 31 March 2021. This will be a key mechanism in supporting the most vulnerable in our society and something which will be extremely important in our continued response to Covid-19. Further information about the Socio-economic Duty can be found on the Welsh Government website here.
There can be no doubt that we face huge, unprecedented, challenges. As we plot a course to recovery and reconstruction, our commitment to social, economic and environmental justice is unchanged – including a commitment to protecting our most vulnerable communities. We will embed our obligations to those who follow us alongside those who are living through Covid19, under the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.
Our values remain the same, but we will need to be fearless and radical in applying to our established policies the lens of the new post-Covid realities. Many of the things that have worked in the past will no longer be fit for purpose. We will need to show flexibility and imagination in appraising our current approaches and in developing new ones. That is why as well as drawing on thinking from within the Government, we are also determined to look outside for challenge to our established ways of thinking and for fresh inspiration.
We are issuing an invitation to people in Wales to send us their thoughts on how we should support future post-Covid recovery and reconstruction in Wales. We have a dedicated email address – ourfuturewales(at)gov.wales – and would like to hear your thoughts on how we can shape our future Wales. We would like to hear from the people in Wales about what really matters, about where we should focus our efforts on recovery. We are asking people to do that by the end of July. That will be far from the end of this crucial national conversation, but we want to help focus people’s efforts in contributing to our understanding and thinking in these early stages.
Jane Hutt AS/MS
Y Dirprwy Weinidog a’r Prif Chwip
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip
17th July 2020"