Rishi Sunak’s promise to grow the economy ‘is in tatters’, says Welsh Labour’s Matthew Dorrance.

His comments follow the announcement that the United Kingdom has entered another recession, in a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to grow the economy.

It’s thought that people spending less due to the cost of living, doctor strikes, and a fall in school attendance contributed to the dip in the economy at the end of last year. In Wales, workers are being hit harder than the rest of the UK during the cost-of-living crisis, with the average worker wanting £20K more per year to live comfortably.

As local families struggle with the cost of living crisis Matthew Dorrance said: “It is a deeply worrying time for families and businesses here in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe as fourteen years of economic decline under the Conservatives has left our country worse off.

“It is time for change. We need an election now to give the British people the chance to vote for the Labour Party’s long-term plan for more jobs, more investment and cheaper bills. Only Labour has a plan to get Britain’s future back.

“Today, the average British family is 20 per cent worse off than their German counterparts.

“One in three working-age families have less than £1,000 in savings. A typical family renewing their mortgage will find themselves paying an additional £240 a month, the price of the Tory mortgage bombshell. And there are 700,000 additional people out of the workforce than when the pandemic struck.

“Debt and interest rates are much higher than in 2010. Growth is stagnant. Public services are on their knees. Taxes are higher than at any time since the Second World War. All on the Conservatives watch.

“Never before has a British government asked its people to pay so much, for so little. The defining purpose of the next Labour government, the mission that stands above all others, will be raising Britain’s productivity.”

In October and through to December 2023, the UK economy shrank by 0.3%, following another shrink between July and September. To be in recession, the country has to fail to grow for two consecutive quarters.

In 2023, the UK economy grew by 0.1%, the weakest since 2009, and not including Covid.

Research conducted by Reed revealed salary expectation gaps across the UK – with workers in Wales feeling £43,000 is a comfortable salary to live on, whereas, in comparison, the average wage in the region is currently £23,000.

Pinning this against the national statistics, Wales is experiencing a more intense wage gap, with the average salary expectation gap across the UK being £14K.

Now, Matthew Dorrance has laid out Labour’s plan. “Labour’s plan for growth is about making working people better off. Putting economic stability first by introducing a new fiscal lock to bring economic security back to family finances. We will never allow a repeat of the devastation of Liz Truss’s mini-budget that crashed the economy and left working people worse off.

“Labour has a plan to get Britain back on its feet. We will secure the highest sustained growth in the G7, with good jobs and productivity in every part of the country, making everyone, not just a few, better off. Labour will make Britain a clean energy superpower, because it’s the route to cutting bills, creating jobs and giving Britain energy security.

“Under Labour’s plans, your energy bills will be cut for good – making families hundreds of pounds better off a year. We would bring in a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants to ease the cost of living.

“Only Labour has a plan to cut bills, create jobs and deliver British energy security once and for all.”

Matthew Dorrance contiuned: “Everything we do will be built on the rock of economic responsibility. That’s what Labour’s strong fiscal rules, our Office for Value for Money and our respect for the independence of our economic institutions will do.

“The next UK Labour Government will get our economy growing again, unlock our green potential and make our streets safer. With our Welsh Labour Government we will modernise our NHS and break down barriers to opportunity.

“For example, Labour will make work pay by introducing a new deal for working people and delivering a real living wage. Creating well-paid jobs across all parts of our country, including here in Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe, will make working people better off.

“Together, this will get Britain’s future back.”

The Brecon and Radnor Express last week spoke to business owner Mary Cobbett, who owns Deli Tinto in Presteigne. One of Mary’s concerns was that the recession, amidst the rising cost of living, put a continued squeeze on her business and her income. She said: “Costs are rising, and it’s harder and challenging to make a profit. There has been no increase in income yet, in April I’ll be compelled to increase wages yet again.”

The news of the recession has made Mary worry about what the future would look like, both for the area and her staff. “The existence of my shop adds value. Alongside other independent businesses, it contributes to the high street, and to life and draw of the town. But its longevity is fragile. Were any of us to close we would be missed and cause a negative impact on both the lives of the local people who work for me and the community we serve.”