Want to know what Plaid Cymru would do for your wallet?

With the General Election just over a week away, we asked the five major party leaders what they would do on the major MoneySaving issues you picked.

Of course, politicians are experts at avoiding questions, so make up your own mind on Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones's (pictured, right) policies from his full answers below (with our questions in bold).

See the MSE leaders' debate guide for edited versions of the Conservatives', Labour's, the Lib Dems' and the SNP's responses.

Petrol Prices

MSE question: While the oil companies and retailers take a cut, 70% of the cost of petrol is made up of tax – so people are really paying the government. Many consumers feel the price is crippling yet environmentally others argue it will be high. 

Do you believe it should be lower – and, if so, will you cut the tax to make it happen?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "We know fuel prices are high, and we have called for a fuel duty regulator to keep the cost of fuel down, because we know our rural communities depend on this method of transport.

"Plaid Cymru recognises the need for a mechanism  to mitigate the effects of major fluctuations in fuel prices and calls for a reduction in road-fuel duty in the face of the steep increase in VAT receipts.

"Together with the Scottish National Party we put forward a motion to amend the Finance Bill in 2008 to create a Fuel Duty Regulator, but unfortunately it was voted down by Labour in Westminster. Only two Conservative MPs, and no Liberal Democrats turned up to vote."

Energy Bills

MSE question: Energy prices have dropped by seven percent this year, but wholesale prices have dropped much more.  The average energy bill is now £1,150 a year for many people, making it the biggest regular bill after rent/mortgages. 

What will you do to cut costs and/or the profits of the energy providers?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "We note with concern that fuel poverty is rising sharply in Wales. Around 320,000 households in Wales, a quarter of all households, experience fuel poverty.

"The average energy bill is now more than double the average bill of five years ago, and in Wales, consumers pay approximately 5% more than the rest of the UK. This is a deplorable situation when energy companies' profits are at a record high.

"Plaid Cymru calls for a cap on increases in energy prices, a windfall tax on energy companies to help pay for grants for insulation for lower income families, a reduction in VAT on energy fuels and the introduction of a fuel price stabilisation mechanism to protect the vulnerable.

"We also want to see the widening of criteria for the Winter Fuel Allowance and the introduction of social tariffs on energy products to help more low-income groups."

Savings (Losings) Accounts

MSE question: The cut in base rate has left many savings accounts paying pitiful rates, leaving many savers losing money in real terms due to inflation. Will you introduce any NEW practical measures to help savers, especially those that rely on interest to boost their income? 

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "We call for a state sponsored pension savings scheme, open to all those in work, including the self-employed and part time workers.  We do not support the means-testing of benefits which is unfair and deprives people of their savings.

"Plaid Cymru calls for the founding of a Welsh People's Bank on the model of local savings banks to provide savings and current accounts to those who would not otherwise have access.

"Plaid Cymru believes in redistributive economic policies aimed at helping low earners, the unemployed and their families to have an adequate standard of living. We would introduce a new tax rate of 50% on those earning over £100,000.

"In order to help poorer families, Plaid would also raise the personal tax allowance by £1,000.  This would take 1 million people on low incomes out of the income tax net altogether, and would allow them to save more if they so wish."

Bank Charges Future and Past

MSE question: What will you do to stop unfair bank overdraft charges in the future? Plus do you support helping those who've been charged them in the past, including low income and vulnerable consumers, to get their money back?  If you do support reclaiming what will you do to make it happen?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "We will support vulnerable consumers through the process of reclaiming money. In addition, Post Offices provide an invaluable community service and are essential to building sustainable communities in Wales. 

"We believe that, as mentioned above, these community hubs could help low income and vulnerable customers.  Plaid will continue its strong campaign against the proposed closures. 

"We will explore ways in which Post Offices might better be used by local authorities and businesses to provide other services, such as a location for free ATMs and facilities to pay council tax on the premises."

Existing Mortgage Holders

MSE question: The supply of mortgage deals for existing customers is limited for the millions with a loan-to-value (LTV) of 75% or above.

House prices have dipped in many areas pushing even some who once had decent equity into this bracket, leaving many people languishing on their standard variable rates or locked in to trackers at 3-4% over base.  

If interest rates rise back to 5% levels this will leave many on 8-9% mortgages. What will you do now and in the future to ease this potential financial disaster?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "Housing is a devolved area of competence in Wales. For action Plaid is taking in government, please contact the Plaid Minister for Housing, Jocelyn Davies AM.

"Suffice to say, Wales was the first country in the UK to instigate a Mortgage Rescue Scheme. So far £5m has been allocated for 2010/11 and consideration is being given to further funding during that year. 

"Until March 2010, 305 applications have been approved which has helped prevent 609 adults and 319 children from becoming homeless."

First Time Buyers & House Prices

MSE question: Many first time buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to get on the ladder, not just due to the cost of mortgages, but the huge deposits needed. 

What practical steps will you take to help them? Plus, is it wise to encourage people into the property market at the moment? And in five years would you like to see house prices higher or lower than they are now?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "Plaid Cymru understands the difficulties that first-time buyers face in getting onto the first rung of the housing ladder. To address this, Plaid calls for a moratorium on stamp duty for first-time buyers."

Credit Cards

MSE question: Thousands of credit card customers across the UK are receiving letters hiking their interest rates by up to 10%. How will you prevent excessive interest rates rises and what other plans do you have to change the credit card industry?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "We have no specific policy on this."

Council Tax and Water Rates

MSE question:  The current council tax banding system has been in place since 1991 in England and Scotland. It's time for a fair update so that 400,000 homes are no longer in the wrong band. How will you address this?  

Plus, many people still pay water rates based on a valuation of their homes done in 1989 yet they can't appeal it. Will you change that?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "Council tax is unfair as it bears little or no relationship to the ability to pay. Plaid is committed to replacing council tax with a fairer local income tax, where the amount taken from each person would be calculated in the same way as general income tax is assessed. 

"Such a move would directly benefit people on low incomes, with many older people not paying anything at all. Plaid will campaign for 100% council tax discount for active combat personnel and those deployed on UN peace keeping duties."

Financial Education

MSE question: Financial education was due to become a compulsory part of the curriculum in September 2011 but was scuppered due to disagreements over sex education.  

Will you commit to legislation to put compulsory financial education on the curriculum by September 2011 as planned?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "That is a matter for the Welsh Assembly to decide. We certainly don't have any outstanding objections to financial education on the Welsh curriculum."

Stamp Duty

MSE question: The way stamp duty works is ludicrous. When you cross a boundary you pay the tax on the entire cost, not just the marginal rate. It creates an unbalanced and unfair system. Are you brave enough to change it?

Ieuan Wyn Jones's answer: "Plaid Cymru understands the difficulties that first-time buyers face in getting onto the first rung of the housing ladder. To address this, Plaid calls for a moratorium on stamp duty for first-time buyers."

Further reading/Key links

Cut fuel costs: Cheap Petrol and Diesel, Cheap Gas and Electricity
Top accounts: Best Bank Accounts, Top Savings Accounts
Reclaim cash: Council Tax Rebanding, Bank Charges Reclaiming
Housing tips: Cheap Mortgage Finding, Free House Price Valuations, Stamp Duty Calculator

Discuss this MSE news story: MSE leaders' debate: What will Plaid Cymru do for your wallet?