- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Feature, Media
The Assembly is back in session next week, after the Christmas break. As well as questions to ministers and opposition parties’ debates, natural resources minister Carl Sargeant is expected to deliver a statement on local energy generation. One for mid Wales’ renewable energy sector to watch.
Before that, on Monday I shall be visiting Neath Port Talbot College’s Newtown campus to debate with business studies students. I have been swotting up!
I have also enjoyed some festive telly. Are you watching ‘Dickensian’? It is a playful twist on familiar stories and characters. I imagine its great fun to write, with a deep well of material to dip into and a huge potential cast. Not everyone made the cut. Mr Micawber is one notable absentee. His famous recipe for happiness is:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen (pounds) nineteen (shillings) and six (pence), result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
What would he make of today’s levels of household debt?
New figures show British families ran up £40bn of debt in 2015. The temptation to use payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts is especially strong in January.
Citizens Advice Bureaux, Credit Unions and similar financial advice services see a spike in people seeking help and advice after Christmas. Get all the help available, they suggest. Check you’re paying the best price for services like gas and electricity, and pay essentials like energy and water bills first.
You might also consider joining a credit union. They’re responsible providers of affordable savings and low-cost loans –– much better than high-interest debts, door-step lenders and illegal loan sharks. That’s why the Welsh Government has invested more than £1.9 million in credit unions in recent years.
The wider picture, according to The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), is that UK households have moved from a surplus of £67bn in 2010 to £40bn deficit now. In other words, George Osborne is relying on millions of British families going further into debt to fund his growth targets.
Perhaps Newtown’s business students will have thoughts on these issues. Before entering politics I ran pubs and small businesses in mid and west Wales, so I’m looking forward to meeting a few future business leaders.
What I can tell them is they can count on the support of this Welsh Government. Its Business Wales service is set to expand. The vision is to create 10,000 new businesses, more than 28,000 jobs and support the next generation of young entrepreneurs.