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Smoke & Mirrors ? A Government Speciality ! Promise One Thing Deliver Another : Child Care Policy Failing The Working ! - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

Smoke & Mirrors ? A Government Speciality ! Promise One Thing Deliver Another : Child Care Policy Failing The Working !

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Climate crisis : Huge VAT rise on solar panels makes installation " Entirely uneconomic ", say experts.

" We could not have a clearer sign the government has failed to even begin to grasp the urgency ", says Green Party co-leader.

Raising VAT on solar panels from 5 per cent to 20 risks making their installation “entirely uneconomic”, experts have warned.

Although parliament declared a climate emergency earlier this month, rates for fossil fuels including gas and coal will remain at 5 per cent, while materials for some renewables will see tax rises of 15 per cent.

These rates will apply from 1 October and follow a consultation by HMRC which closed last week.

The VAT hike on materials for solar panels and also battery storage, came as the government’s official advisory body on climate change recommended the UK reaches net zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050,

Eight countries in the European Union have called on the bloc to implement similar goals.

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party told The Independent: “A climate emergency has been officially declared, yet we could not have had a clearer sign that the government has failed to even begin to grasp the urgency. Renewables, with energy conservation, are the future, yet once again the government is knocking them back.

“The suppliers, including many small independent companies in communities around the country, have been buffeted by the sudden removal of the feed-in tariff and by the end of export tariff.”

She added: “Again the Conservative government is choosing to privilege big, polluting energy producers over small, clean businesses.”

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) is contesting the HMRC proposal.

It said the rates hike had come as a shock to the industry as they were consulted on in 2015/16 "and considered to be finalised" at the 5 per cent rate "following assurances at the time from ministers”.

Despite the falling costs of technology in the industry, the REA said the rise “could mean the UK market is put at a strategic disadvantage for attracting investment and transitioning its energy system, effectively adding 15 per cent to the cost of most new projects’ equipment and penalising consumers who wish to reduce their carbon footprint.”

The association's head of policy, Frank Gordon, said: “The proposed VAT rate hike hits the small-scale renewable energy industry hard during an already difficult landscape. This change risks setting back the UK decarbonisation of homes and businesses in the UK by a number of years.

“Despite recent mass climate-related protests and the UK parliament declaring a climate emergency, the government is again erecting a barrier to cutting emissions and increasing the costs for households who want to help. They are also failing to recognise the cumulative impact of withdrawing as many as 18 policy mechanisms that supported renewable energy deployment since 2015, which could leave the UK trailing behind on decarbonisation and clean growth.”

He added: “The REA hopes that government will listen to our recommendations, reconsider and address this issue urgently to utilise the hard work businesses have been engaged in to drive down the costs of solar and energy storage.”

Dr Jonathan Marshall, an energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told The Independent the decision was the “latest in a lengthening list of government moves hurting solar”.

He said: “On one hand you have a government bigging itself up and marking all the milestones of progress – how much power we’re getting from sources that aren’t carbon intensive – and on the other hand you have quite a number of regressive policy moves which are slowing down the progress they seem so keen on.

“It’s not only increasing the VAT on solar, it’s also changing the whole framework of small scale renewables, so that its almost entirely uneconomic now to put solar panels on your house.”

The government said the decision brought the country in line with EU law which ruled in 2015 the discounted tax rate was illegal. But following the ruling, the government did not immediately enact the changes, and the European Court of Justice went on to publish a VAT action plan in 2016 with no comment on solar power.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “The government is proposing changes which would keep as much tax relief as possible available for Energy-Saving Materials while ensuring UK rules are in line with EU law.”

The new rates will come into force the same month as the UK’s deadline for leaving the EU.

Dr Robert Gross, from the Centre for Environmental Sciences at Imperial College London, told The Independent: “The UK is reluctantly complying with an EU regulation that runs contrary to EU aspirations for CO2 and renewables. On the other hand, the government did not need to remove the feed in tariff for micro-generation that did so much to support the growth of solar in the UK.

“Instead of removing the FiT it could have been set at a zero-subsidy rate that provided home and business owners with a secure long term income from solar panels at a fixed price at or below the price of conventional electricity.”

He added: “The government decided not to do this. [It is] nothing to do with EU laws.”

As a result, those wishing to buy solar panels for their homes will face higher costs, and at the moment they will not get the benefit of selling excess power back to the grid.

Previously the feed in tariff system allowed people to claw back some of the expense of installing solar systems on their homes, but the scheme was brought to an end in March this year.

The failure to receive compensation for contributing power to the grid is illegal, but the replacement system, the smart export guarantee, is yet to be finalised and rolled out.

The new system is designed to be more adaptive to the needs of the grid, and this will supposedly be reflected in payments to those generating excess power.

Dr Marshall said: “With the smart export guarantee, the power your solar panels generate will have a higher value if its generated when the system’s a bit short – so if it’s not very windy for example, you’ll get more money.

It’s a sensible way of doing it, but the way the policy is coming through is so stop-start. At the moment, if you buy solar panels to put on your house, there’s no way of claiming any sort of payment for the electricity. You’ve got to hope you use it all yourself, or buy a battery at added expense.”
Disadvantaged students risk being left behind by government’s apprenticeships programme as number of starters from poorer areas drop, report finds.

Government's approach to widening access is " Inadequate ", committee says.

Young people from disadvantaged communities risk being left behind by the government’s apprenticeships programme which has been “inadequate” in widening access, MPs have warned.

The proportion of apprenticeship starts among people from disadvantaged areas has fallen despite the government’s push to boost diversity, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found.

In 2017-18, 22.6 per cent of new apprentices were from the most deprived local authority areas, compared with 25 per cent in 2015-16, the report by the cross-party group of MPs stated.

The government’s apprenticeship reforms are failing to deliver its aims and its approach to widening participation among under-represented groups has been “inadequate”, it said.

The Department for Education (DfE) is taking “far too long” to get to grips with the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics apprenticeships, it added.

People from disadvantaged areas and minority groups risk being left behind and not reaping the benefits due to the government’s focus on higher-level apprenticeships, the report warned.

Overall, in the 2017-18 academic year, there were 375,800 apprenticeship starts. This was 26 per cent lower than the 509,400 starts in 2015-16, before the apprenticeship levy was introduced.

Since April 2017, employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m have been required to pay an apprenticeship levy of 0.5 per cent of the bill.

The government is "very unlikely" to meet its target of three million apprenticeship starts by March next year, the report said.

"Ultimately, the lack of progress has disrupted the direction of the programme," said PAC chair Meg Hillier. "The way the programme is evolving is out of kilter with the department's objectives; opportunities for people with lower skills are diminishing and apprenticeship starts in disadvantaged communities have fallen.

"What's more, take-up from under-represented groups has been too low. We are supportive of the programme's core objective to draw apprentices from a wider range of social and demographic groups, but this is at complete odds with its unambitious targets.”

Ms Hillier, who is calling on the DfE to realign the programme with its initial objectives to ensure no one miss out, added that the “poor execution” of the programme had created long-term problems.

But Anne Milton, apprenticeships and skills minister, said apprenticeships were "now longer, higher quality and have more off-the-job training - a point the PAC acknowledges."

She added: We are increasing the numbers of people with learning disabilities or from BAME backgrounds starting apprenticeships. We have projects aimed at helping people from disadvantaged areas to achieve an apprenticeship with all the benefits it provides.

“There is still work to be done, but we won’t sacrifice quality for quantity and I’m thrilled that the number of people starting on our new high-quality apprenticeships has risen by 79 per cent in the first half of 2018-19 compared to the same period last year.”

The Department for Education said it was considering the recommendations and will respond in due course.
Former Ofsted head says government school funding claims are misleading.

Sir Michael Wilshaw warned progress in school standards was at risk.

The government is “misleading” the public with its claim of giving schools record levels of money, the former head of school standards has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former chief inspector at Ofsted, also said proportionately fewer children from the north make it to university than from the south, adding that regional and ethnic differences were affecting educational success.

Wilshaw, who stood down in 2016, waded into the row over government funding of education, warning that “huge progress” made in boosting standards was in jeopardy “unless the funding goes into schools”.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge that more money was needed, and criticised the government’s claims about education funding.

“I know what it’s like to be a headteacher in east London when there was money, and I could raise standards because I did have money, but since I left office I have been in a number of schools up and down the country, particularly in the north of England, and they are struggling for funding. There is no question about that and it’s sad to see.

“It is very worrying that the great progress that we made in schools and the educational standards over the last 20, 30 years – standards had improved remarkably – it’s worrying that there could be a slowdown.”

Wilshaw said schools were struggling to get and keep enough teachers, let alone good teachers, and standards were threatened.

“Talk to headteachers, as I do all the time, and they will say funding is an issue. And it is particularly an issue when they can’t attract good enough people into our schools to raise standards, and unless we can do that and pay teachers enough money to come into the profession and stay in the profession – and retention is probably the more important than recruitment – then we’ll see a decline in standards.”

But Wilshaw also highlighted deeper-seated issues such as poorer performance in the north of England: “The big challenge for our country is huge regional performance and I’ve constantly banged on about standards in the north of England and in some parts of the Midlands.

“In my last year as chief inspector, not one youngster on free school meals got into Oxbridge from the whole of the north-east of England, Yorkshire and Humberside. And in that same region, three times less children go to university than they do in the south. Now that’s not good enough.”

Wilshaw said leadership of schools needed to improve, and more needed to be done to develop high-grade future leaders.

But he also said some parents from white communities were not committed enough to the educational success of their children.

“Why is it that London does very well in all the metrics, why? Because all of our immigrant families in our capital city have parents who value education, support education and are ambitious for their children.

“Why do we see youngsters from white British working-class families doing badly? Often it’s because their parents don’t support them in the way that our immigrant families do.”

He added: “I have said some tough things about parenting, and we should be tough on parents who don’t support their schools, and in some instances are abusive to teachers and headteachers.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “It is a fact that there is more money going into our schools than ever before – we’ve given every local authority in England more money for every pupil in every school since 2017.

“But we know that schools are facing budgeting challenges and, in recognition of that, have introduced a wide range of support to help them reduce costs and make the most of their resources.

“The education secretary has also made clear that he will back headteachers to get the resources they need to deliver a world-class education as we approach the next spending review.”
Inheritance tax rules '" Save richest families nearly £700 million a year. "

Vast majority of UK business relief goes to those with more than £1m in assets, report finds.

A clutch of the wealthiest families in the UK are taking advantage of inheritance tax rules designed to help small businesses and landowners, saving themselves almost £700m a year, according to a report.

The campaigning group Tax Justice UK found 234 families with more than £1m in business assets shared £458m in relief in the 2015-16 year thanks to inheritance tax breaks.

This represented almost 80% of the total business tax relief given in that financial tax year.

The report also found 261 families owning more than £1m in agricultural property shared £208m in tax relief in 2015-16, 62% of the total relief given out that year. Similar amounts of tax relief were claimed in each of the previous two tax years, according to the report, the findings of which are based on freedom of information requests to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The campaigning group’s findings prompted Labour to criticise the government’s premise that the aim of the tax breaks is to provide support to smaller family businesses and farms.

“This report lays bare the extent to which the Tories’ inheritance tax regime favours a wealthy few families,” said John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor. “Labour will tackle the scourge of tax avoidance and review tax reliefs to make sure the rich pay their fair share towards the public services we all need.”

The report, How Inheritance Tax Breaks Favour The Well-Off, found the wealthiest families received the biggest breaks. The 51 families registered with HMRC as having business property worth more than £5m shared an approximate tax saving of £327m. This works out to an average saving of £6.4m per estate. And 62 families registered as owning agricultural property valued at more than £2.5m shared a £107m tax savings pot – an average of £1.7m per estate.

Robert Palmer, the executive director of Tax Justice UK, said: “Wealth inequality is at staggeringly high levels and this report shows how it is in part underpinned by inheritance tax relief. There is no justification for politicians allowing costly tax breaks to continue to operate in this way.”

The report argues the system, which allows large amounts of agricultural and business property to be exempt from inheritance tax, is fuelling property inflation, with investors increasingly seeing opportunities such as agricultural property as a tax-efficient target. In 2011, 60% of agricultural land was purchased by farmers. By 2017, farmers accounted for 40% of purchases, as investors flocked to buy agricultural land and property.

Alison Thewliss, the Scottish National party’s shadow Treasury spokeswoman, said: “This report sheds some light on what we know to be true – that the UK government have ensured that the rich get richer.”

In January, an analysis of figures by HMRC revealed the cost to taxpayers of all inheritance tax loopholes has risen to almost £2bn annually. The levy is paid by fewer than one in 10 estates and charged at 40% above the tax-free threshold of £325,000, but exclusions include relief on agricultural land, business shares and transfers to charities.
Ground zero ... the much heralded " Sure Start " scheme ... vital for many at an early age :

Sure Start programme saved the NHS millions of pounds, study finds

When centres offered high levels of service in poor areas, hospital visits fell among primary school age children


Sure Start centres " Big benefit " but face cuts.

Sure Start centres, aimed at improving early years health and education in England, brought "big benefits for children's health", researchers say.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found a positive impact from the scheme, launched 20 years ago as a flagship of Tony Blair's Labour Party.

But the think tank warns that funding has been cut and 500 sites have closed.

The Local Government Association says councils have "done all they can within ever tightening budgets".

The report examines the effect of Sure Start, an early intervention policy designed to support the wellbeing of children before they started school.

Health education

The centres provide parents with information and advice about health, education, childcare and employment, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Researchers describe it as a story of a "fast rollout followed by deep spending cuts" - but they say the centres have brought measurable improvements.

The provision of Sure Start centres "significantly reduced" the incidence of children going to hospital up to the age of 11, says the study, which looked at the impact on health.

The study found that for every one Sure Start centre per thousand children there were 5,000 fewer hospital admissions for 11-year-olds each year.

Christine Farquharson, a research economist at the IFS, said the drop in hospitalisation rates was the result of parenting advice, health education, lessons about keeping children safe and improving children's behaviour.

For younger children, the reductions in hospitalisation were more likely to be for "infection-related" problems, says the study, while for older children it was more likely to be for accidents and injuries.

Disadvantaged areas

These "benefits are strongest for children living in disadvantaged areas", says the study, while there was relatively little difference in wealthier areas.

However, levels of childhood obesity were not significantly affected by Sure Start, says the study.

The IFS researchers, funded by the Nuffield Foundation charity, are confident the reductions in hospital admissions can be attributed to access to Sure Start centres, when other social and geographical factors are taken into account.

But the think tank warns Sure Start centres have had declining support.

Spending peaked in 2010 at £1.8bn (in current value) but was cut by two-thirds to £600m by 2017-18 - and about 500 centres closed between 2011 and 2017.

Most of these closures were in better-off areas but 170 were in the poorest 30% of neighbourhoods, says the think tank study.

'Limited resources'

There are also big differences in levels of local provision, says the study, with decisions about children's centres having been devolved to local authorities - which in turn have faced funding pressures.

Researcher Ms Farquharson said there needed to be more attention paid to what worked - particularly in the run-up to the government's spending review.

"It's crucial that both central government and local authorities use the best evidence," she said, adding that "limited resources are best focused on the poorest areas".

Antoinette Bramble, of the Local Government Association, said such centres were an "incredibly important service" for parents of young children.

But she said many councils could not afford them - and more would be lost.

"It is inevitable that without new investment from government in children's services, councils will face the difficult but unavoidable decision of having to cut or close early help services such as children's centres," she said.

Tracy Brabin, Labour's shadow early years minister, said it was "heart breaking that such a vital service, which helps disadvantaged children the most, has had two-thirds of its funding cut".

A government spokesman said: "Children's centres can play an important role in supporting families.

"Local councils decide how to organise and provide services for families in their areas to meet local needs - whether this is through children's centre buildings or delivering services in different ways, and we continuously reflect on what works best."
Home solar panel installations fall by 94% as subsidies cut

Labour accuses UK government of ‘actively dismantling’ solar power industry
The Labour party has accused the government of “actively dismantling” the UK’s solar power industry after new installations by households collapsed by 94% last month.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, used prime minister’s questions to challenge the government’s record on climate action after scrapping subsidies for domestic solar panels from April.

Standing in for Jeremy Corbyn, Long-Bailey said solar power had the potential to cut household bills and carbon emissions while creating thousands of jobs.

“But the government, for some reason, appears to be determined to kill it off, while continuing to cheerlead for fracking,” she said.

The solar feed-in tariffs had encouraged more than 800,000 homes to fit to their roofs solar photovoltaics, the panels which generate electricity. The end of the scheme was widely expected after a series of cuts to subsidy levels in recent years.

Renewable energy developers and green groups had hoped ministers would replace the scheme with another incentive system to avoid dashing the sector’s momentum and accelerating job losses in the industry.

Instead, officials confirmed that new solar pv installations would be expected to give their unused clean power to energy companies for free until a new scheme is set up. A spokesman for the government said new proposals will be unveiled in the coming days.

“Parliament declared a climate emergency yet there is no evidence that this government takes this seriously,” Long-Bailey said.

The opposition said data showed the scrapping of home panel subsidies from April caused new solar power capacity to fall from 79MW in March to only 5MW last month.

At that rate it would take the government until 2092 to match Labour’s commitment to install solar panels on an additional 1.75m homes within its first term in power.

The slowdown poses a big risk to plans put forward by the independent Committee on Climate Change to create a net zero carbon economy by 2045.

Trade unions said last month that the number of jobs in renewable energy had plunged by nearly a third in recent years because of a slowdown in the rollout of new projects.

In response to the opposition, David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, told MPs that since 2010 the UK had cut greenhouse gas emissions faster than any other G7 nation. He said ministers would outline a plan to tackle the climate crisis and create green jobs “later this year”.

Lidington said: “There are 400,000 jobs already in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains throughout the UK and scope for much larger low-carbon growth to support up to 2m jobs in the future.

“We now have received advice from the independent climate change committee about how to time and to legislate for our transition to a completely decarbonised economy, and we will be bringing forward our decisions later this year as to how and when will be taking that action.”

Theresa May had intended to confront Donald Trump about his views on climate breakdown during his state visit this week. “But with her government actively dismantling the UK solar industry it is unclear who has the most to teach the other about climate change denial,” Long-Bailey said.
Oh dear , the Government's role under scrutiny ... again ?

British Steel collapse prompts parliamentary inquiry.

MPs are to launch an inquiry into the UK's steel industry after the collapse of one of the sector's biggest firms.

The move by the Business Committee follows the liquidation of British Steel last month and concerns about the impact of Brexit on the steel industry.

The committee will look at the role of former owner Greybull Capital, and the government, in the company's collapse.

MPs said they wanted to hold public evidence sessions with Greybull and the business secretary, among others.

British Steel was placed into compulsory liquidation on 22 May, putting 5,000 jobs at risk and endangering 20,000 in the supply chain.

It followed a breakdown in rescue talks between the government and private equity firm Greybull.

The government is covering the firm's wage bill for now, but if a new buyer cannot be found it could be wound up and redundancies would follow.

The Official Receiver has said it has made contact with more than 80 potential buyers.

Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business Committee, said: "It is vital that the government and Official Receiver do all they can to secure a viable future for British Steel.

"However, as a select committee we want to examine questions around the collapse of British Steel and the government's approach, as well as about Greybull Capital's stewardship and its commitments to investing in its future.

"More broadly, we want to examine the serious challenges facing the future of the steel sector in the UK."

'Perilous, uncertain place'

Ms Reeves said the inquiry would examine the serious challenges being faced by the steel sector in the UK.

She said long-term industry concerns on issues like energy costs and business rates had been "largely unaddressed" by the government.

The inquiry will also explore whether additional responsibilities should be required of the owners of national strategic assets.

Unite's assistant general secretary Steve Turner welcomed the inquiry, adding: "We need to look seriously at how a strategically important national industry has ended up in such a perilous, uncertain place, and then we need government to take the steps necessary to bring security to the sector."

He added that it was right that Greybull's role in the collapse was thoroughly examined.

Greybull bought the business for £1 from Tata during depths of the 2016 steel crisis in the hopes of turning the business around, going on to rebrand it as British Steel.

It had sought financial support from the government before it was placed in liquidation.

The firm was hit by a slump in orders from European customers ‎due to uncertainty over Brexit, as well as a weakening in the pound since the 2016 EU referendum.

The local communities in Port Talbot , Scunthorpe and Redcar will be holding their breathe ?

More likely to be watching Corrie / East Enders than be interested in the outcome.
Classic ... spend YOUR tax monies on the totalling wrong thing ?

Painted bike lanes are waste of money, say cycling commissioners.

English councils urged to follow Scotland in spending money from traffic fines on road safety.

The government has wasted hundreds of millions of pounds painting pointless white lines on busy roads and calling them cycle lanes, according to Britain’s cycling and walking commissioners.

In a letter to the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, the commissioners – including the Olympic champions Chris Boardman (Greater Manchester), Dame Sarah Storey (Sheffield City region) and Will Norman (London) – say painted cycle lanes are a “gesture” and do nothing to make people feel safer on a bike. Recent studies have shown they can actually make people less safe, they argue.

“As there are currently no national minimum safety standards for walking and cycling infrastructure, these practices can and will continue wasting public money and failing to persuade people to change their travel habits,” the letter says.
Any carers amongst our ranks in the farming communities will finally be pleased :

Years of environmental payments owed to farmers to be settled with Treasury funds.

Unpaid farm payments dating back up to four years will finally be honoured using Treasury funds, the Government has announced today.

Payments will be made in full next month to thousands of eligible farmers in agri-environment schemes who are still waiting to be paid.

Farmers and land managers have entered into Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship agreements under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy and have carried out important work to protect the countryside as a result.

Farmland has been taken out of production for species-rich meadows, ponds built to support wildlife and trees planted, among other measures, but many farmers have waited years to be paid for doing what was asked of them.

A “significant” number of agreement holders have not received full payment for work they have undertaken, the Government said, with some annual revenue claims dating back to 2015.

Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), said: “Today we are announcing that outstanding revenue claims for agri-environment schemes will be paid in full.

“We are determined to build on the improvements that we have already put in place, keep up a regular cycle of timely payments, and restore confidence in these schemes which are so important for our environment.”

According to the National Farmers' Union, the announcement means that around 22,500 farmers will be paid £115m in July.

The union's deputy president Guy Smith said: “This news from the RPA will help provide much-needed relief for those farming businesses waiting on outstanding Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship payments.

“We have been calling for the Government to sort this out. At NFU Conference in February, Michael Gove admitted that the Countryside Stewardship scheme was “still in a mess” and that the Government must do better.

“The news comes as we had worked with one of our legal panel firms, Thrings, through our Legal Assistance Scheme to assist individual farmer members in pursuing their debt claims against the RPA. Hopefully this service will no longer be necessary.

“However, we will continue to monitor the situation to make sure these overdue payments are made in full and at last hit farm bank accounts.”

The RPA said it will be writing to all unpaid customers this week to provide an update on payments.

Once individual claims have been processed, the RPA will write again to customers to confirm any adjustments to be made to the final payment.
Ford Bridgend : " Taskforce didn't meet for eight months. "

A taskforce set up to protect jobs at Ford's Bridgend plant did not meet for eight months before the factory's closure was announced.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price called it "staggering", and said it was a "dereliction of duty" by the Welsh Government with "a party asleep at the wheel of governance".

Ford announced it will close the plant in 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The Welsh Government said it "strained every sinew" to keep the plant open.

A spokesman added the comments from Mr Price did not reflect the time and effort put into supporting workers.

Set up in 2017 by officials in Cardiff Bay, the working group was tasked with helping to protect the plant's future.

But it did not meet between July 9, 2018, and March 18, 2019.

"This raises serious questions on what exactly the government were doing during this crucial period where the future of the plant was still hanging in the balance," Mr Price said.

The group, which was chaired by Welsh Government ministers and officials, had representatives from Ford Europe, Ford UK, the Wales Office, the UK government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Welsh Automotive Forum and Unite the Union.

Mr Price added: "The Welsh Government knew back in January this year that the plant could face a potential loss of over 1,000 jobs.

"It is therefore inconceivable that the Labour Welsh Government taskforce failed to meet with Ford until two months later."

The taskforce met five times in the three months after it was set up, but only once in the 11 months before the plant's closure was announced.

Mr Price received the information after submitting a written question to Welsh Government Economy Minister, Ken Skates.

Plaid Cymru has organised a public meeting Monday evening for workers and companies in the local supply chain at 18:00 BST at Vale Cricket Club, Corntown.

The Welsh Government spokesman said: "This is a cynical attack that in no way reflects the time and effort put into supporting the Ford Bridgend plant and its workforce by the Welsh Government.

"Welsh ministers and their officials have met with representatives from Ford very regularly over the past two years to explore internal commercial options for the site.

"The Welsh Government has strained every sinew to keep the Bridgend plant open - including making significant investment in the site and its workforce - and makes no apology whatsoever for continuing to do so in order to keep good quality jobs and production in the area."

He added the task force was "just one of a number of ways" the government worked with the company to try and safeguard jobs.

A Unite union spokesman said: "It is the decisions and actions of Ford itself that have put thousands of jobs at Ford and in the wider automotive supply chain at risk.

"Our members are not interested in political point-scoring, it's an unwanted distraction.

"What they expect is for politicians from all parties to join them in calling upon Ford to think again and reverse its devastating decision to close the Bridgend plant".