Welsh Liberal Democrats party conference: Covid recovery a priority

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image captionJane Dodds has been the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats since 2017

Helping people and businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would be a priority for a Welsh Liberal Democrat government, its leader says.

Addressing a virtual party conference, Jane Dodds will say her party would build 30,000 new affordable homes and scrap "unfair" business rates.

All efforts must go into recovering from the "havoc" of Covid, she will say.

The Senedd vote takes place on 6 May.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats currently have one Senedd member, Education Minister Kirsty Williams, who will not be standing for re-election.

In her conference speech, Ms Dodds is expected to say: "At this critical moment in our future anything other than securing our recovery from Covid and the havoc it has reigned on every aspect of our lives would be foolish."

She will also say if her party was in government after the elections it would seek powers from the UK government to trial a universal basic income.

Under the idea, every person in the country would get a cash payment at regular intervals, without any requirement to work or qualify for it.

The former MP for Brecon and Radnorshire said: "Universal basic income means no-one will be left without enough money to buy what they need.

"We cannot continue to just see queues of people for food banks, families desperate for hope, and children living in poverty.

"Welsh Liberal Democrats can and will do better for those families who deserve a dignified life, not a life of desperate existence.

"Wales needs the powers to trial universal basic income."

'Unfair and outdated'

On the scrapping of business rates, she says: "Our high streets don't just face the challenge of lockdown, they face the challenge of competitors who pay less tax, and contribute less to our local economies.

"It's time to create a level playing field between the local retailer and the global internet retailer.

"A first step to doing that is to scrap the unfair and outdated business rates and replace them with a fairer system of tax to which all businesses contribute fairly."

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