22 Jun

Deal or no deal, Brexit is very risky for Airbus – and Wales

Airbus has been warning for a year that Brexit could pose major problems for the continuation of its UK operations.

Finally the warnings are being taken seriously following publication of its Brexit risk assessment.

The assessment finds that the aerospace sector faces additional major risks from Brexit compared to other industries.

Airbus adds that it is increasingly concerned by the lack of progress on the Brexit process.

If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal on 29 March 2019, it would leave the single market and customs union and there would be no transition phase. As a result, Airbus production in the UK would be likely to suffer severe disruption, and the company “would be forced to reconsider its investments in the UK”.

Even an orderly Brexit with a withdrawal agreement – while preferable to a no-deal scenario – would require a longer transition period than is currently planned: December 2020 is too soon for Airbus to implement the required changes to its extensive supply chain.

Airbus would “carefully monitor any new investments” in the UK and “refrain from extending the UK suppliers/partners base”.

In other words, Brexit presents serious risks to production, investment, employees, suppliers, partners – basically to the company’s very continuation on this island.

Wales would take a particularly severe hit.

As Egino warned early this year in a report for Jill Evans MEP[2], some 6,000 direct jobs in Broughton, Flintshire, would be at risk. And more elsewhere in Wales.

The future would be bleak for young people hoping for jobs and training in an area where such high-quality opportunities are very scarce. Not forgetting the impact on colleges that train Airbus’ apprentices, the supply chains and the wider local economy.

Airbus is not the only major company worried about their post-Brexit prospects.

Car maker blues

Like Airbus, car production is closely integrated across Europe. The Ford plant at Bridgend employs nearly 2,000 workers. Also like Airbus, it offers apprenticeships and university scholarships, to both male and female applicants.

A ‘no deal’ exit would be a disaster for the car industry, according to Steven Armstrong, Ford’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. He fears a hard border, with consequent delays and a hit to productivity.

The Unite union, which represents workers at the Bridgend plant, shares Ford’s belief that retaining Single Market access is vital.

An unaffordable career

Then there’s the food and drink industry. Much more dispersed, of course, but involving an estimated 240,000 people, making it in total as a sector Wales’ biggest employer.

Some 60% of Welsh exports go to the EU (not counting the rest of the UK). The proportion is higher for agri-exports – over 90% for some meat exports.

Maintaining exports at current levels will be very difficult if the UK exits without a deal and has to trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

WTO tariffs would nearly double export prices for some Welsh agri-foods, with no extra benefit to Welsh producers – if indeed they are not priced out of current markets.

Farming itself could become an unaffordable career option, as Welsh farmers face the prospect of losing up to 80% of their income after payments under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) end.

Brexit poses many more problems for Wales, some affecting young people particularly hard, as outlined in this easy-access report in the “Leaving the EU: Impact on Wales” series: Leaving the EU: The Impact on Wales – Young People

http://www.jillevans.net/english/leaving_the_eu_the_impact_on_wales_young_people.pdf
02 Mar

Brexit’s challenge for Welsh food and farming

Leaving the EU: The Impact on Wales - FOOD
A report for Jill Evans MEP

Brexit poses a challenge of historic proportions for the Welsh food industry.

While we don’t yet know the EU exit terms, reputable analysis points to some likely key effects:

  • There will be economic uncertainty for at least a decade, particularly if exiting the European Union includes leaving the Single Market and Customs Union and having to trade on WTO terms.
  • There will be losses, including loss of a known support system for agriculture, fishing and environmentally positive land management.
  • There may be risks to food safety and security unless the comprehensive EU regulations that safeguard the quality and safety of our food are fully and firmly embedded into UK law.

Egino’s research for Jill Evans MEP found that Brexit could hit Welsh farming hard and early.

Depending on withdrawal terms, it may be very difficult to retain EU markets for Welsh agricultural exports in the face of higher export costs, including for Welsh lamb. This, plus the loss of support payments under the Common Agricultural Policy, suggests farmers and food sector workers face an income shock.

There may be daunting times ahead too for Welsh rural life, the Welsh language and culture, and for environmental standards.

The public’s access to safe, secure and affordable food may be at risk too if we find ourselves outside the current European framework, especially if the UK compromises on standards in order to win trade deals.

The report is available from Jill Evans MEP: 01443 441295 /  [email protected] 

15 Oct

Welsh schools need more black and ethnic minority teachers

In tribute to Betty Campbell, Wales’ first black head teacher, and for the sake of our young people, the Cabinet Secretary for Education should launch an initiative to increase the number of black and ethnic minority teachers in Welsh schools.

Wales’ first black head teacher, Betty Campbell, who has died aged 82, had to overcome major obstacles, in particular entrenched racism, to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher. We offer our condolences to her family and many friends.

An inspiring teacher and community champion in Butetown, Cardiff, Betty was an outstanding role model for young black people, particularly girls.

Unfortunately role models like Mrs Campbell are still scarce in Welsh schools. This emerged during consultations by Egino – as recently as 2016 – on proposals for breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales.

Both educationalists and community representatives participating in a round table on education, held in Butetown, stressed the importance of  action to increase black and ethnic minority role models in schools.

Whether or not the problem results from a lack of applications from black and ethnic minority students or of applicants not being accepted on to teacher training programmes in adequate numbers is not sufficiently clear.

What is clear is that schools and education authorities need to recognise the impact of role models on performance and expectations. They also need to recognise that there is a problem and work towards recruiting more black and ethnic minority teachers.

Participants in our consultation argued for a Welsh Government action plan to bring about improvements, including active encouragement for black and ethnic minority students to become teachers, targets for school appointments of teaching and support staff, and analysis of universities’ and schools’ recruitment policies.

An action plan to increase black and ethnic minority role models in schools would be a fitting tribute to Betty Campbell, and boost young peoples’ prospects. The Cabinet Secretary for Education should give it urgent consideration.

Blog author: Lila Haines

Links

http://www.egino.org.uk/ethnicity-and-education-levelling-the-playing-field-in-wales/

JRF Viewpoint: Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales
Viewpoint authors: Anna Nicholl, Chris Johnes and Duncan Holtom

Print copies are also available, in English and Welsh, from [email protected]

Note: This represents the author’s views and interpretations and does not necessarily reflect the position of any other organisation or individual.

24 Nov

From poverty to sustainable prosperity

Review

Prosperity without poverty: A framework for action in Wales. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 8th Nov 2016. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/prosperity-without-poverty

The publication of “Prosperity without poverty: A framework for action in Wales” is a welcome and necessary reminder that Wales doesn’t have to be blighted by widespread, longterm poverty. This Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) research offers practical proposals to re-gear a fight against poverty that seemed to many to have stagnated.

This is, of course, a framework for action, not a readymade roadmap to inclusive prosperity. The Welsh Government must work with other key players – including communities – on the details of a programme. But this well-researched strategic approach offers valuable guidance.

Healing divisions

The societal divisions revealed during the Brexit referendum campaign and in its aftermath should concentrate minds on how to tackle poverty, and make some of the report’s proposals especially relevant.

Its call for the UK Treasury to guarantee continuity of the funding available to Wales under current EU structural fund programmes is a case in point.

Likewise, the emphasis on galvanising local community action. This could play a dual role: providing frontline knowledge and insights, and helping to build bridges and overcome the kind of alienation spotlighted by the Brexit experience.

Crowd-source solutions?

Appointing recognised experts to propose policies for government has its place in the approach to developing an effective strategy. But it’s not enough to spark the necessary creative action. Expertise can be found in many places, not least the communities actually living the effects of poverty.

Is it time to crowd-source solutions to poverty? To tap into community nous? To enrich strategies by bringing together experts and citizens in a new kind of relationship that goes beyond the usual consultations?

The goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act include a more equal and inclusive Wales; its ways of working stress longterm thinking and collaboration. Working in the spirit of the Act and drawing on the JRF framework, the Welsh Government may finally devise an effective anti-poverty strategy – one that doesn’t compromise our planet or leave Welsh communities in the lurch again a few years down the line.

Jobs: sufficient and right

The JRF paper rightly notes that “for many years the main problem in Wales has been insufficient jobs”, and that research shows “that when labour demand picks up strongly, those working too few hours for too little pay have seen both improve”.

As poverty in Wales often means poverty while in work, opportunities to work more hours for suitable pay would ease personal poverty and boost local economies.

However, as the report recognises, growth must be inclusive: economic growth alone will not guarantee enough extra jobs, access to jobs, or terms and conditions sufficient to lift people out of poverty.

Any economic growth should be environmentally and socially sustainable. Boosting growth even with a good spread of jobs is not enough. The challenge is to promote the right mix and spread of jobs, not just more seeming solutions that turn out to be short-term fixes, potentially harmful to the environment and to the people who should benefit.

Practical proposals

The JRF report proposes practical measures for creating “prosperity without poverty”, including:

  • Prioritise inclusive growth in the strategies for city regions
  • Accelerate and broaden the commitment to ‘better jobs, closer to home’
  • Refocus Welsh Government business finance on inclusive growth
  • Incentivise growth in disadvantaged areas in Wales through area-based economic development initiatives.

Area-based initiatives, it suggests, should include consideration of a New Enterprise Zone across the whole of
the valleys area, and ‘growth poles’ at strategic locations in city regions.

These ideas should certainly be considered, but care must be taken to avoid obvious traps, such as too broad-brush an approach with its danger of too little impact; or growth at the cost of environmental harm with inevitable climate and human costs – again.

Green starters … 

We suggest that priority be given to promoting ventures that both respect the environment and improve communities and people’s lives, now and in the long term.

Bearing in mind that greening the economy boosts employment,  here are some options to stimulate discussion:

  • Making energy efficiency a genuine infrastructure priority could create local jobs across the country.
  • Green skills training would be needed, of course; this investment would pay dividends in better work options and a higher skills base, widening the often-elusive route out of poverty.
  • Or what about considering some Green Growth Community Enterprise Parks?
  • Or a One Planet Living centre for the valleys – a southern equivalent of the Centre for Alternative Technology, specialising in post-industrial sustainability.

Ethnic minority poverty

Finally, a word about an aspect of inclusivity that seems to have dropped off the radar. Surprisingly, in light of other recent JRF publications (see below), there was no more than a passing reference in “Prosperity without poverty” to ethnic minority poverty in Wales (“reducing the disability and ethnic minority employment gaps”).

“Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales”, written for JRF by Egino and the People & Work Unit, shows how to tackle poverty linked to ethnicity. In other Egino blogs we reported on the perceptions and proposals that emerged from a series of roundtables held earlier this year to consider those proposals.

Ensuring that minorities and disadvantaged groups are not left on the margins needs to be part of the purposeful dialogue that should follow publication of this hugely useful report.

Related publications

We can solve poverty in the UK. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 6th Sep 2016. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/we-can-solve-poverty-uk

Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales – A JRF Viewpoint. Anna Nicholl, Chris Johnes and Duncan Holtom, 18th Feb 2016. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/breaking-links-between-poverty-and-ethnicity-wales

Why ethnicity matters for local authority action on poverty. Anna Nicholl and Roshi Naidoo, 14th Oct 2014. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/why-ethnicity-matters-local-authority-action-poverty

Poverty and ethnicity in Wales. Duncan Holtom, Ian Bottrill and Jack Watkins, 3rd Oct 2013. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/poverty-and-ethnicity-wales

 

 

 

25 Apr

Ending poverty linked to ethnicity in Wales

A recent series of roundtables  involving Welsh NGOs, academics and local and national government officials debated a vital issue that has fallen off the radar: the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Viewpoint Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales identifies the causes of inequalities linked to ethnicity in Wales and proposes a set of actions to break these links.

With JRF support, and working with the People and Work Unit, Egino organised a series of roundtables to consider the findings and proposals. The wide range of participants welcomed the opportunity to debate the evidence and make proposals for future action. This blog and the accompanying podcast give a taste of that debate.

Aspiration for change

Ali Abdi, Community Partnerships manager at the Grangetown Community Gateway, Cardiff, was struck by the flow of ideas and aspiration for change: “There were lots of people here wanting to give their personal views and experiences from their workplace about inequalities in Wales about different ethnic groups. I think particularly what struck me was the aspiration, to want to change.”

Dr Rachel Bowen, Policy Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Wales, thought it was really positive to see that change is possible as demonstrated in the attainment levels of people from different ethnic backgrounds.” But she cautioned against simplistic solutions, about thinking that there will be an automatic reduction in poverty if everybody gets better skills, and flagged up issues in the small business sector.

Mind the gender gap

In Wales, the employment rate for women from ethnic minorities is projected to remain below 50% up to 2020. Christine O’Byrne, Policy and Research Lead for Chwarae Teg, the Welsh charity which has been promoting women’s progress in the workplace since 1992, expressed particular concern about this gender gap: “Gender is central to tackling poverty. Women are more likely to be in poverty than men and we know that women face multiple disadvantage, so as a woman you would be disadvantaged in the economy, and as a woman from an ethnic minority group you’d be even more so.”

From data to intervention

Dr Richard Gale, a lecturer in human geography at Cardiff University, was struck by how the Viewpoint explored the existing evidence base and used it to look at the connections between problems: “When we move into thinking about where and when to intervene, the question emerges: where do you intervene in a particular problem to help create more positive pathways and transition? So I think it was useful to start with the data in the report and then think through the next steps from that.”

For more about the issues debated in the roundtables you can listen to the accompanying podcast, download the Viewpoint, or email Egino.

 

JRF Viewpoint: Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales
Viewpoint authors: Anna Nicholl, Chris Johnes and Duncan Holtom

Print copies are also available, in English and Welsh, from [email protected]

Blog author: Lila Haines

Note: These are the author’s views and interpretation, and not the position of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation or any other organisation or individual cited.

18 Feb

Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity – Wales must act

A new JRF Viewpoint, Breaking the links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales, reveals that stark inequalities linked to ethnicity are set to continue to 2022 and beyond if action isn’t taken now. But, it argues, this is far from inevitable.

Wales can break the link between poverty and ethnicity, is the key message, but only if there is strong leadership and action starts now.

The Viewpoint identifies the causes of inequalities linked to ethnicity in Wales and proposes a set of actions to break these links. Public policy, local services, employer behaviour and support for new migrants can all make a difference.

Written by Egino and The People and Work Unit, and published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the Viewpoint draws on a wealth of research on poverty and ethnicity that has been conducted by JRF’s Poverty and Ethnicity programme.

The problems are clear but vary across Wales

Current and projected links between poverty and ethnicity in Wales are clear, but vary considerably across places and over time – and gender: being female is a major risk factor:

  • In Wales, the employment rate for women from ethnic minorities is projected to remain below 50% throughout 2012 – 2020.

The proportion of ethnic minority people in poverty is higher than the majority White population, with some groups at particular risk.

  • The incidence of poverty in the Asian group is estimated to be twice that of the White majority.
  • Bangladeshis and Pakistanis tend to be the most disadvantaged across a variety of indicators.
  • Bangladeshi men are over 7 times more likely to be in low-paid jobs than otherwise comparable White men.
  • The unemployment rate in the Caribbean group in Wales is almost twice that of the White majority.

Racism? Or the wrong kind of jobs?

Racism and discrimination continue to be negative factors and efforts to address them remain key. But there are also other factors which may have been less well understood that can help to focus effort effectively.

Differences in earnings, for example, are the result of the concentration of certain ethnic groups in low-paid sectors and occupations. When doing the same work, employees tend to be paid roughly the same, regardless of ethnicity. Addressing the concentration of certain ethnic groups in particular low-paid occupations should be a priority for public policy.

Social networks: help or hindrance?

Friendships, the way we care for loved ones and informal social networks can make a difference to whether a person is more likely to live in poverty or earn a good living.

This is in part about the way information and advice circulates informally. Understanding this can provide important insights into how public services can better engage with our diverse population.

The keys to action

The Viewpoint argues that action is needed across the public sector, and also by employers, businesses, third-sector groups, trade unions and citizens themselves. They recommend five key approaches that should have an impact, whilst also being cost effective:

  • engage
  • integrate
  • intervene early and prevent
  • shape workplace and labour market activity
  • demand and use evidence.

Identifying the next steps

With support from JRF, Egino and the People and Work Unit are convening a series of roundtable events to consider the Viewpoint’s proposals, as follows:

1. National policy implications

Tuesday 15 March 2016, 11:00-13:00 [Tea/coffee from 10:45]

Venue: Culture and Media Centre, Loudoun Square, Cardiff CF10 5HW

2. Work, ethnicity and poverty in Wales

Monday 4 April 2016 – 14:00-16:00 [Tea/coffee from 13:45]

Venue: EYST, Units B & C, 11 St Helen Road, Swansea SA1 4AB

3. Education, ethnicity and poverty in Wales

Wed 6 April 2016, 14:00-16:00 [tea/coffee from 13:45]

Venue: Culture and Media Centre, Loudoun Square, Cardiff CF10 5HW

Please register by emailing [email protected]
11 Jan

Welsh EU membership – benefits & looming challenges

Egino research shows that Wales is a winner from EU membership.

The experience has not been without its challenges, but these have been far outweighed by the benefits.

The big numbers are impressive: £9 billion from EU Structural Funds and the Common Agricultural Policy between 2000 and 2013 alone – and even more from funds supporting learning, technology, cross-territorial cooperation, infrastructural upgrades and more.
In cash terms every woman, man and child has gained more than s/he has contributed, as shown by Egino research for Jill Evans MEP – a net gain of €1,768 each over the period we examined.

Read More