- The Welsh the Government’s relentless focus will be on driving improvement in the Welsh economy and public services, delivering a Wales which is prosperous and secure, healthy and active, ambitious and learning, united and connected. This is the Wales we are determined to build over the coming five years.
- Taking Wales Forward is a five year plan to deliver more and better jobs through a stronger, fairer economy, improve and reform public services, and build a united, connected and sustainable Wales.
- The Welsh Government has provided a clear statement to the people of Wales about the values that this Government stands for and what it intends to deliver. The Welsh Government’s vision of government is simple – enabling people to live healthy and fulfilled lives and make the most of every opportunity, and supporting them when help is needed most.
- A critical five years lie ahead. The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union creates some uncertainty and challenges, but our mandate is clear. The Welsh Government’s relentless focus will be on driving improvement in our economy and public services, which are together the bedrock of people’s daily lives.
- Taking Wales Forward outlines the key priorities for delivering improvements in our economy and public services. They are ambitious measures, aimed at making a difference for everyone, at every stage in their lives.
- The issues we face can only be tackled through new ways of working, to take the whole country forward and contribute to delivering goals that we share. Taking Wales Forward sets out how the Welsh Government will work differently across traditional boundaries to deliver our priorities.
Through the development of the four cross cross-cutting strategies we will seize on the opportunity of the Future Generations Act to work differently and engage with others to develop innovative solutions to the challenges that we face and help us to maximise our impact in these uncertain times.
New Approach to Programme for Government
- Taking Wales Forward signals a fresh start to delivery through a new way of working. The Welsh Government has set out where it has the levers to maximise its impact and how our key commitments will contribute. These areas are in relation to:
- Prosperous and Secure;
- Healthy and active;
- Ambitious and learning; and
- United and connected
- Taking Wales Forward is a realistic but ambitious Programme for Government. It is a Programme for Government that responds to the opportunities laid out in the Future Generations Act.
- This is the beginning of our work over the next five years. Our forthcoming Budget will align resources to our priorities. Our four strategies which we will be working on throughout the autumn will consider how we can maximise the impact of everything that we do.
- We will communicate success when it happens and on a regular basis, in the context of the four cross-cutting strategies. We have made a commitment to reduce the numbers of performance indicators we collect to change our relationship with local government, and this should also apply to how we collect data on our performance.
- An approach to providing updates will be developed in the context of progress on our well-being objectives aligned to reporting against the National Measures of Progress in the Future Generations Act.
- It does not contain all manifesto commitments, but those that best articulate the improvements we will all work to deliver. We will drive forward delivery across all our commitments.
- Our approach is founded on not just what we do but the importance of how we will deliver against our priorities. We will drive improvement through action and through strong leadership. Ministers will be working over the autumn to develop four cross-cutting strategies which will consider how we can have the greatest impact and genuinely wrap services around people at the times and places when they need them.
- Our work must be guided by financial responsibility and realism. Austerity imposed by the UK Government continues, and every objective analysis of the potential impact of Brexit says we should be prepared for a shrinking economy.
- Now, more than ever being in Government means choices and we will face tough ones. Where we start new programmes to fulfil our pledges, we must stop something else to pay for it. That is the new reality for this Assembly, and every party must adapt to this if they are to play a serious role in Wales’ future.
- We are currently developing our Budget for 2017-18, which will be published on 18 October. As part of this process, we will be considering our long-term budget outlook. We will be considering how we can use the tools available to us to deliver the best outcome for Welsh residents and Welsh public services in these uncertain times.
- A critical five years lie ahead. No single Minister can deliver our priorities, and the Programme for Government sets the Welsh Government and partners the challenge of working together to find innovative ways to make a change in all of these areas for the people of Wales. The Welsh Government will be an open government, receptive to new ideas and willing to work with others.
- A critical five years lie ahead. The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union creates some uncertainty and challenges, but our mandate is clear. The Welsh Government’s relentless focus will be on driving improvement in our economy and public services, which are together the bedrock of people’s daily lives.
- Despite the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote the Welsh Government’s key pledges have been maintained, including the commitment to create at least 100,000 all-age apprenticeships and the development of the South Wales Metro.
- Now, more than ever being in Government means choices and we will face tough ones. In response to these challenges Taking Wales Forwards represents a new approach to delivery, listening to the will of the people and working with others to deliver our shared priorities.
- Throughout the Autumn, the Welsh Government will be working on the development of four cross-cutting strategies that will be citizen-centric; focused on ensuring that public services are integrated, efficient and available to support and enrich people’s lives when and where they need them.
- This is not about a proliferation of strategies, it is about providing an environment that encourages innovative delivery solutions in the current challenging environment. It is about collaboration, partnership and efficiency across the public services, challenging ourselves and our partners to use our collective resources to maximise the benefits of our collective endeavours.
- The four strategies will reflect how interwoven the needs of people are and how we need to ensure that our public services can respond to that. They will help the Welsh Government to understand how it can make sure that services dovetail to maximise the positive outcomes they deliver.
- The four cross-cutting strategies, Prosperous and Secure, Ambitious and Learning, Healthy and Active and United and Connected will set out in more detail the interdependent actions the Welsh Government will take to give everyone in Wales the opportunity to flourish at every stage of their lives.
- Taking Wales Forward is a Programme for Government that responds to the opportunities laid out in the Future Generations Act. It provides the basis for how we will use the legislation to work differently to deliver the Wales we want.
- Our Four cross cutting strategies will help us to maximise our impact in these uncertain times. They form the basis for our strategic well-being objectives designed to make Wales prosperous, healthy, resilient, more equal and globally responsible, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.
- The Act gives the Welsh Government an opportunity to lead the wider public service in adopting new ways of working to look to the long term, prevent problems before they arise, through the four strategies before to take the whole country forward and contribute to delivering goals that we share.
- Throughout the Autumn, the Welsh Government will be working on the development of four cross-cutting strategies that will involve others focused on ensuring that public services are integrated.
- The Well-being of Future Generations Act is not an end in itself, it represents a tool that all parts of the public realm can use to increase its effectiveness. The legislation can help make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
- The Act cannot make decisions for the Welsh Government, however, and it cannot remove the difficult decisions that it must take as a Government. However, it can help the Welsh Government to make those decisions in the round.
- For example, to ensure that major schemes like the M4 and the metro are designed to maximise their economic benefits and minimise their environmental impacts.
- One of the key priorities for this government is delivering a better deal on childcare, which will provide working families with 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds for 48 weeks of the year. This includes term time and holiday provision.
- Parents have told us that the cost of childcare is one of the biggest challenges they face. We are committed to helping them with this, but also providing quality childcare to support children’s developmental needs.
- We will be involving a wide range of people in delivering our commitment. The Welsh Government has already met with some parents, providers and other partners, including local authorities, to begin to shape an offer which is why it will also be looking at workforce development and business support for childcare providers.
- The Welsh Government is also working with local authorities, parents and providers to develop and trial models of delivery from September 2017 before a full roll-out of the offer. The deadline for expressions of interest was Friday 16 September and the Welsh Government will be discussing those received with the local authorities in the coming weeks.
- The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children will be in talking in more detail about our childcare offer and the work we are doing to engage with parents and providers in shaping its development and delivery.
- It is clear from the way the English offer has been received by the sector in England that the funding rate for childcare providers is a key factor in successful delivery. The funding rate needs to include not only adequate funding to care for the child, but take account of other running costs. The Welsh Government will be commissioning research as a priority which will inform decisions around the funding rate for providers.
- The Welsh Government can see from the experiences in England how important it is to work through the details of an offer like this, and to listen to what parents and providers are saying. There have been reports of providers pulling out from the English offer already. The Welsh Government is listening, and talking to the people who will be helped by this offer, and we will make sure we take the time to develop and deliver an offer that works for Welsh families.
- Quality childcare is not just about putting children in a room. This offer is aimed at supporting working families, and helping parents who want to work, but we are also clear that we need to make sure the childcare provided compliments our existing early education programme and supports future generations at an important stage of their development school.
- The Welsh Government is already delivering our commitment to support small businesses through our Small Business Rates Relief Scheme.
- In 2016-17, this £98million scheme is benefitting over 70 per cent of business premises in Wales, with more than half of businesses here paying no non-domestic rates at all.
- The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government has been considering how this relief is delivered to best support small businesses in the longer term.
- The Welsh Government announced last week that the scheme will be extended for 2017-18, with a new permanent scheme coming into force from 2018.
- Progress continues on the creation of a Development Bank for Wales (DBfW), which will be a core component of the Welsh Government’s economic policy to deliver a prosperous and secure Wales.
- The DBfW will build on the experience and expertise of Finance Wales, to improve SMEs’ ability to access finance, supporting the Government’s priority of creating and safeguarding jobs.
- The DBfW will have the objective of providing greater levels of funding to SMEs, whilst at the same time improving the integration of the provision of advice and support to businesses, by working more closely with Business Wales.
- Finance Wales have recently submitted a business case for the DBfW to the Welsh Government.
- The business case takes account of the most recent developments in the economy, including the result of the EU referendum.
- Final decisions on establishing DBfW will be taken following a comprehensive review and assessment of the business case.
- It is anticipated that the final proposals will be discussed in plenary within the next six months.
- Finance Wales is also working with WEFO on re-profiling the investment schedule, in order to maximise the spend of EU monies.
- In July, the Welsh Government announced that it would provide an extra £80 million over the life of this Government to fund new drugs.
- The administration of the fund is equally as important as the detail of what the fund will support and the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport is currently considering the options for implementing the fund.
- The Welsh Government must ensure this money is spent wisely and on those drugs offering the greatest gains for people.
- The Welsh Government is committed to establishing the New Treatment Fund to ensure people in Wales have fast access to new and innovative treatments for life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. This will build on the success of the equitable system we currently have in place
- Work is progressing to refine the criteria and mechanisms needed to manage the fund effectively. It is anticipated that the fund will be operational by December.
Individual Patient Funding Request (IPFR) Review
- It is right that we have a process in Wales to enable access to treatments and devices which are not normally available via the NHS. Each health service in the UK has such a process, with clinical criteria to determine accessibility.
- The Welsh Government has committed to undertaking an independent review of the IPFR process. This will include views from Welsh citizens, especially patients.
- The review will be sharply focused on clinical exceptionality, will look afresh at the issue of having a single, national panel and will take account of the patient perspective.
- Good progress has been made in establishing a panel of experts to undertake the review which draws on expertise and experience of the system in Wales and brings a fresh perspective from outside Wales. The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport will be announcing further details in the near future.
- There are up to 4,000 care home residents who pay for the full cost of their residential care. Increasing the capital limit from its current level of £24,000 to £50,000 has the potential to benefit these, depending upon the value of the capital they hold.
- The capital limit determines which care home residents pay for the full cost of their care. Those with capital of a value above the limit pay for the full cost themselves. Increasing the limit reduces the number to which this applies, thereby enabling residents to retain a much higher level of their capital to use as they wish.
- The Welsh Government wants to be sure we apply the most appropriate approach to introducing this commitment. As part of the consideration of the options for implementation, independent research has been commissioned to help inform the implementation plan and ensure there is an accurate and reliable set of costings to support this.
- Aside for the financial implications, there are a number of possible consequences to increasing the capital limit by such a relatively large amount. The Welsh Government is, therefore, also engaging with local authorities and other stakeholder representatives to identify and consider these to ensure a successful implementation.
- The implementation plan for this commitment will be announced in the autumn.
- The Welsh Government will introduce from next April a full disregard of the war disablement pension in the financial assessments local authorities undertake when charging for all forms of social care and support. Currently a disregard of the first £25 per week applies.
- Introducing a full disregard of these pensions will ensure armed forces veterans who received these are not required to use them to pay for their social care and can retain their full value to meet their other daily living expenses.
- It is important that Wales competes in a challenging recruitment market for doctors and GPs. We also need to encourage more people to choose general practice as a career when they are thinking about their future and that we engage all professions in our plans for putting primary care at the heart of the Welsh NHS.
- Last year the Welsh Government ran a short campaign for junior doctors. This year the Welsh Government will be building on this by launching a major national and international campaign to market Wales as a great place to train, work and live. The Cabinet Secretary for Health Well-being and Sport will be making a statement later today.
- The campaign will begin in October and has been developed to support health board activity whilst also bringing all organisations together under the banner of NHS Wales. It will have an initial focus on medical staff before being extended to take into account all primary care professions and the wider NHS workforce.
- The Welsh Government is also working to establish a clearer deal for GPs in the form of a ‘Wales offer’. This will communicate the existing benefits of being a GP in Wales and the actions being taken to address the concerns of those delivering services everyday so that Wales become as country of choice, where GPs can make their future part of our future. The Welsh Government has also been working with partners, including GPC and RCGP Wales, to develop this offer.
- The Welsh Government’s plans for primary care are clear that delivery depends on getting the best from the full workforce, and we have invested significantly in this over the last few years. Primary care clusters will be commissioned to undertake a coordinated exercise to scope the needs of this wider workforce.
- This will enable a comprehensive workforce training and development programme to be established at health board and national level and for a focused marketing campaign and offer for these groups of staff to be developed.
- The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport has chaired the first meeting of a Ministerial Taskforce which has been established to oversee the delivery of this commitment and hold all those responsible for delivery to account. At this meeting the taskforce agreed terms of reference, a series of major milestones, discussed the marketing campaign and provided further input into the GP offer. The taskforce will next meet in October.
- By the end of this Assembly term the apprenticeship programme will have been fully aligned to meet the changing needs of the economy and communities in Wales. With a minimum of 100,000 people, starting as an apprentice, gaining sustained employment and improving their future prospects.
- The new All-Age Apprenticeship Programme is operating now and the Welsh Government are actively encouraging employers in priority sectors to recruit via this new offer.
- The Welsh Government is aiming to expand apprenticeships into key areas such as: Life Sciences, Financial Services and Digital Technologies providing a broader range of higher level skills that employers require.
- The Welsh Government intends to increase the number of apprentices aged 16-19 and raising the number of school leavers going on to high quality apprenticeships.
- Quality is proven – framework completion rates remain strong, standing at well above 80%. Even higher in specific areas, for example the completion rate at Level 3 is 86%.
- Bilingual learning and Welsh Language continues to be an overarching Welsh Government priority. Apprenticeship providers have been challenged to increase the take up of bilingual apprenticeships and are closely monitored on their performance.
- Although the commitment of 100,000 is 12,000 fewer starts than the previous period, targeting high value technical sectors will improve the impact of the programme and in turn drive up productivity levels. 100,000 starts provides 20,000 starts per year – an excellent platform for economic growth.
- The Welsh Government will continue to ensure that those groups currently under-represented are given equal opportunities to benefit from our programme and we have appointed an equality champion specifically to take forward this work.
- The Welsh Government is concerned at the UK Government’s plans for an Apprenticeship Levy. It is an unnecessary burden on employers and cuts across devolved policies relating to Skills and Apprenticeships. We are engaging with employers across Wales to get a better understanding of the impact the Apprenticeship Levy.
- It is a fundamental principle of devolution that the Welsh Government determines policy in devolved areas and funding from the UK Government is not earmarked.
- We have no plans to introduce a voucher system in Wales. A voucher system will not improve quality but it would introduce bureaucracy for employers and providers.
- My officials are discussing with the UK Government how employers with workers who live and work on different sides of the border can access our apprenticeship
- Over the past 5 years we have seen significant progress in improving educational outcomes for our children and young people in Wales.
- Last month the Welsh Government celebrated the hard work and success of our learners in Wales, with the continued high overall pass rate at A level, positive progress with the Welsh Baccalaureate, and the high overall GCSE pass rate with 66.6% A*-C grades for two thirds of our learners.
- This equals the highest levels of achievement recorded in Wales and includes notable improvements at A*-C in large entry subjects such as Mathematics, History and Biology.
- The additional £100million the Welsh Government has committed to support school standards over this Assembly term must build on our achievements to date, and support an unrelenting focus on driving improvement to deliver better outcomes for all our learners.
- In July the Cabinet Secretary for Education outlined the Welsh Government’s priorities for education, including a key focus on improving the quality of learning, teaching and leadership. The evidence is clear that teaching will have the biggest impact on learner outcomes.
- The Welsh Government will support school practitioners through more effective planning and choice of professional learning.
- The Welsh Government will ensure equity of learning by continuing to drive up standards for our poorest learners and we will improve the planning and delivery of additional learning provision.
- At the heart of all these priorities is the continued development of Welsh-medium education, from early years to Higher Education.
- Welsh Government priorities must be positioned within the context of a self-improving system where we support, empower and equip our schools to enable them to drive their own improvement journey.
Infant class sizes
- We know parents, families, and teachers are concerned with class sizes and the Education Secretary is exploring how best to ensure consistency across Wales. As with all schools’ policies, this is about raising standards, reducing the attainment gap, and enabling teachers to have the time and freedom to teach.
Small and rural schools
- The Education Secretary has outlined the Welsh Government’s priorities for a self-improving education system, where schools are confident, capable and well equipped to support themselves and each other to drive up standards, including through closer working arrangements such as through federation.
- The Welsh Government is in the early stages of developing the framework for a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales.
- The key purpose of the Commission will be to provide expert and independent advice to Government on the future strategic economic infrastructure needs and priorities for Wales.
- Their role will be to support a longer-term, sustained strategy of investment which will support economic growth.
- The body will work closely with other bodies that may have an infrastructure remit.
- A further announcement on proposals for the Commission is expected during the autumn term.
- The Welsh Government recognises that Wylfa Newydd represents the largest private sector investment in Wales in a generation. It impacts directly or indirectly on the majority of functions exercised by the Welsh Government and the Welsh Government is fully committed to the project.
- The Welsh Government recognises that the project has the potential to provide significant economic benefits to North Wales.
- Wylfa Newydd is an important strategic infrastructure project for Wales which will help to create high quality jobs as well as be important to the future of steel in Wales.
- The Welsh Government has been engaged with the Wylfa Newydd project over a number of years.
- It is engaging fully with Horizon, Hitachi-GE, the newly appointed delivery team, ‘Menter Newydd’ and potential key suppliers to capitalise on the opportunities for significant legacy benefits to the economy.
- The Welsh Government sees this project as presenting a once in a lifetime opportunity for the North Wales Region.
- Nuclear energy is highly regulated to ensure that the highest levels of safety, security and environmental protection are maintained at all times.
- The nuclear reactor design proposed for development and construction at Wylfa Newydd is the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR). The new station is due to start generation in 2025 and delivery of some the preparatory works have already begun. The developers will have spent some £1.8 billion before they make their final investment decision in 2019.
- The Welsh Government recognises that a project of this scale presents significant risks – and is working across government and closely with Horizon and partners to mitigate them.
- Wales has 50 years of proven nuclear capability and experience in the nuclear supply industry and has a skilled and committed nuclear workforce placing Welsh based companies in a good position to take advantage of opportunities within the UK, European and Global marketplace.
Hinkley Point C
- Although the decision has taken a long time to be made, this is excellent news for the nuclear sector across the UK and will provide a much needed shot in the arm in terms of boosting confidence levels within the supply chain.
- It will be also be a significant boost to confidence levels of key developers such as Horizon Nuclear Power and its Tier 1 supply chain who aim to invest in Wales and who are about to embark on key contract for difference talks with the UK Government;
- The decision also injects confidence into the indigenous supply chain in Wales which is in an excellent position to benefit from the contracts that will be let over the next several years;
- It has recently been reported that Express Reinforcements has secured a contract for 200,000 tonnes of steel worth £100m, to be used in building the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station, subject to the project going ahead. With last week’s confirmation, this is excellent news for the company which will safeguard jobs and increase the company’s expertise within the nuclear sector;
- The Welsh Government is aware that other companies in South Wales are also in line for significant contracts, last week’s confirmation will help expedite their confirmation and announcement;
- The Welsh Government continues to explore the capability of the steel sector in Wales to contribute to the Hinkley Point C project and are in regular touch with the Hinkley Point C Supply Chain team to explore which work package areas may lead to opportunities in Wales.
- The Welsh Government aims to significantly increase direct and formal engagement with the Hinkley Point C Supply Chain team so that other significant contracts can be secured for companies in Wales across the supply chain.
- When the First Minister met the new Prime Minister this summer, steel was at the top of the list for discussion – both agreed steel is a UK strategic asset. Steel is a foundation industry which drives investment and innovation in the wider economy – in manufacturing, research and development and innovation.
- Throughout the summer the Welsh Government has continued discussions with Tata Steel, the UK Government and others and will continue to do all it is able to support the Tata Steel operations in Wales.
- To ensure Tata Steel’s Wales operations are on a firmer footing in any future negotiation, the Welsh Government has been exploring a range of potential support, including developing a major environmental improvement project for Port Talbot, a potential investment in sustainable premium product capability for Shotton and a potential training support package for employees across all Tata Steel sites in Wales. The Welsh Government is also exploring a potential significant increase in research and development investment in new products at Port Talbot. If secured, this would signal a significant vote of confidence in the future of Welsh steelmaking.
- Discussions with Tata are ongoing and no absolute assurance can be given on their success. As part of these discussions, and as is normal for any investment project, the Welsh Government is also covering conditions it will require.
- The Welsh Government has welcomed the news that Welsh steel will be used in building the proposed Hinkley Point C. The Welsh Government aims to increase direct engagement with the Hinkley Point C supply chain team so that other significant contracts can be secured for companies in Wales.
- Very early scoping work has been undertaken to consider the scope of a North Wales Metro scheme centred around North East Wales and providing connectivity to Holyhead and cross border into the North of England.
- The initial scope of that work has focussed on an integrated hub concept in the Deeside area encompassing rail, bus, active travel and road enhancements.
- The South Wales Metro is designed as a dynamic programme of work. The network can grow through new services, routes and stations to connect population centres that are, at present, poorly served by regional public transport. Key attributes of the scheme will be high frequency reliable services, the integration of the modes, ability to extend provision in the future and regenerative in its effects.
- A Public Inquiry will be held this autumn. The inquiry will look at a wide range of issues including alternative proposals, so that the public can examine for themselves the advantages and disadvantages.
- Pending the outcome of statutory processes and Public Local Inquiry, construction could start in 2018 and the new section of motorway could be open in 2021.
- Since it was announced that the Welsh Government would seek to establish a Parliamentary Review into the long-term future of Health & Social Care in Wales, discussions have been taking place to reach a cross-party consensus on the detail of the review, including the remit, membership and timescales. Once these details have been finalised we can move forward with establishing the review.
- It is essential that we reach a common understanding across the political spectrum on what this review can deliver, so that we can make the most of the opportunity it offers for health and social care in Wales.
- The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport will be keeping the Assembly informed as matters progress.
New Public Health Bill
- The Public Health (Wales) Bill reinforces the Government’s continued commitment to using legislation where appropriate to improve and protect the health of the people of Wales.
- In order that the Bill can be brought forward this autumn, it will closely mirror the legislation which was considered by the previous Assembly.
- However, the Bill will not include the previous provisions to restrict the use of nicotine inhaling devices such as e-cigarettes in enclosed and some non-enclosed public places. The Welsh Government has taken this position in recognition of the need to focus the Bill on areas which can command support from across this new Assembly.
- In relation to the proposal to introduce a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol, the Welsh Government continues to monitor events in the Scottish courts involving similar legislation there.
- This Bill has been confirmed for introduction in the first year of this Government’s Legislative Programme. The Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language expects to introduce a Bill before Christmas recess.
- The Bill will reform the current legal frameworks for supporting children and young people with special education needs and learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
- The changes will directly benefit our most vulnerable learners and will also improve the operational landscape for practitioners.
- A draft Bill was consulted on during the second half of 2015 and the feedback received has been used to develop the Bill and wider ALN Transformation Programme. The summary of responses to the consultation on the draft Bill was published on 1 July.
- The Bill, draft Code and wider Additional Learning Needs Transformation Programme are being revised and amended in the light of these responses.
- In the autumn, the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language will say more about the Transformation Programme and the package of measures we will put in place to support delivery partners to effectively move from the existing system to the new approach.
- This important area of reform is something that enjoys cross party support and the Welsh Government hopes that it will complete its passage through the National Assembly and receive Royal Assent by the autumn of 2017.
· Parents want the best for their children and the Welsh Government is working hard to support them. The legislative intention to remove the defence of reasonable punishment is not so much about “banning smacking”, as supporting our efforts that all children should have the best start and good outcomes later in life.
· This isn’t about the Welsh Government telling parents how to bring up their child. It is part of a package of support to parents on acceptable and effective ways of disciplining their children. Greater clarity in the law will help professionals in their task of communicating, guiding and advising families.
· The Welsh Government’s intention is not to criminalise parents but to make Wales a place where everyone knows it is not okay to smack children, and parents are supported to use more effective discipline strategies. It doesn’t take away from a parent being able to parent and discipline their child.
· The proposed legislation is one part of a wider package of measures to promote positive parenting. The Welsh Government is providing support, information and resources to help parents through our positive parenting campaign, ‘Parenting. Give it Time’, and through our family support programmes, Flying Start and Families First.
· The intention is to pursue this commitment on a cross-party basis. People political spectrum are supportive of this legislation, so there is a good basis on which to move forward. The proposed legislation will be subject to the full scrutiny of the legislative process. The Welsh Government will be consulting formally to gather the views of relevant stakeholders and members of the public.
· The Welsh Government plans to introduce the legislation in either the second, or third years of the National Assembly for Wales.
- The Wales Bill currently before Parliament is a considerable improvement on the draft Bill published by the UK Government a year ago.
- During this time the Welsh Government has worked intensively with the UK Government, providing detailed scrutiny and analysis of the Bill’s provisions so that improvements could be made.
- In this process the Welsh Government has been pursuing a settlement that is sustainable, clear and ambitious in scope. While this Bill makes some progress in these areas it does not fully meets the needs of the National Assembly, the Welsh Government or the people of Wales.
- Many of the provisions of the Bill are good. They enhance legislative and executive devolution in line with the Silk Commission and Smith Commission reports and begin to bridge the gap between the Welsh settlement and the other devolution settlements in the UK.
- Improvements have been made to the Bill thanks to the Welsh Government’s consistent pressure and detailed analysis along with the engagement of civic society in the pre-legislative scrutiny process.
- Improvements have been made around the reservations; some have been removed while others have been narrowed in scope, to give the Assembly more room for manoeuvre.
- However, the Welsh Government believes there are still too many reservations. The Welsh Government’s aim is to have a workable reserved powers model. It believes that a principled approach should be taken to the drafting of reservations, and that a coherent rationale should be provided for retaining powers centrally. While a number of the reservations in the Wales Bill meet this principled approach, many still do not.
- Further amendment to the Bill is expected during the Lords stage and the Welsh Government will continue to make representations to the UK Government in relation to reservations.
Plaid Cymru Programme of Opposition
- The publication of the Plaid Cymru Programme of Opposition is to be welcomed, but we must remember that the people of Wales elected this government based on its own ambitious programme.
- However, the First Minister has been clear that good leadership listens and no one has a monopoly on good ideas. Taking Wales Forwards builds on those areas of common ground with Plaid Cymru and of course, represents the programme agreed with the Liberal Democrats, under which Kirsty Williams became Cabinet Secretary for Education.
- Taking Wales Forwards is the beginning of the Welsh Government’s work over the next five years. Through this Programme for Government and establishing the three Liaison Committees – for Constitution, Finance and Legislation with Plaid Cymru we have demonstrated that this will be an open government, receptive to new ideas and willing to work with others.
- More than ever being in Government means choices and we will face tough ones. Where we start new programmes to fulfil our pledges, we must stop something else to pay for it. That is the new reality for this Assembly, and every party must adapt to this if they are to play a serious role in Wales’ future.