Category: Committees

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor

The Assembly Committee responsible for scrutinising the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, will meet to examine the Welsh Government’s approach to economic development.

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM will be appearing before the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister from 10.00 until 12.00 on Friday, 14 July in the Management Centre at Bangor University.

FM Graphic EN

For this meeting the Committee will be focusing on the Welsh Government’s approach to developing the economy in Wales.

The Committee will also discuss other topical issues with the First Minister and would welcome suggestions of issues of major importance in North Wales to raise. If you would like something to be discussed, you can suggest a topic in advance.

The economy in Wales – an overview

Ahead of the development of a new Economic Strategy for Wales later in the year, the Committee will be raising issues of key importance with the First Minister. The strategy is being developed at a point when the Welsh economy faces a number of challenges, some of which are shared with the rest of the UK and some of which are unique to Wales:

  • Wales has the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA – a measure of economic output) per person.  Wales has a lower Gross Value Added (GVA) per person when compared with the other devolved nations and regions of England.
  • Many communities still struggle with the effects of deindustrialisation, and poverty and inequality are persistent challenges.
  • The short and longer-term impacts of Brexit on the economy remain highly uncertain.

Welsh economy: in numbers

The Welsh Government has developed and published a range of high-level indicators to monitor the overall performance of the Welsh economy. The rationale behind this is to reflect the outcomes most important to the people of Wales, and to give a more comprehensive picture than a single indicator can provide.

8 Key Economic indicators

The Welsh Government has made ‘prosperity for all’ a key priority in its Programme for Government 2016-2021. Two sections of this programme contain priorities which are critical to the success of the Welsh economy:

  • Prosperous and secure – including commitments relating to business and enterprise, inward investment, employment, and the rural economy.
  • United and connected – which includes measures to establish a National Infrastructure Commission, improve roads and public transport, improve digital connectivity, and promote a ‘fair’ society.

Continue reading “The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor”

What’s in your medicine cabinet? The Public Accounts Committee inquiry into Medicines Management

Do you have concerns about the number of items on your repeat prescription?

Blog Header EN

Have you experienced difficulties in getting the right medicine from a pharmacist? Have you had any problems while in hospital with incomplete drug charts meaning you got the wrong medicine?

These are some of the issues the Public Accounts Committee have been considering as part of their inquiry into Medicines Management.

With over £800 million spent on medicines and over 79.5 million medicines dispensed in Wales per year, NHS Wales uses medicine on a substantial scale. In the last 10 years there has been a 46% increase in the number of items dispensed, and in the face of this growing demand, Welsh Government is urging prudent prescribing, to optimise people’s medicines so that patients receive the best possible outcomes and so that the NHS gets value for money from medicines.

The Auditor General for Wales published a report on medicines management within primary and secondary care settings, on 15 December 2016. This looked at whether NHS Wales is managing medicines effectively, in primary care, in secondary care and at the interface between primary and secondary care. The report considered health bodies’ corporate arrangements for medicines management, such as strategic and workforce planning, the profile of medicines issues at Boards and committees, and arrangements for monitoring health bodies’ performance in relation to medicines.

The Auditor General concluded that:

  • There was scope to make prescribing safer and more cost effective within primary care;
  • There are medicine related safety risks and inefficiencies when people move in and out of hospital;
  • There are problems in hospitals with medicine storage, gaps in medicine information and frustration at delays in implementing electronic prescribing.

The Committee explored a number of these issues with the Welsh Government at our meeting in March 2017.

The Committee were concerned to find that it had taken so long to introduce electronic prescribing (this was first discussed in 2007, but is not likely to come in until 2023).

Another area the Committee felt could be improved was around developing a central system for very expensive medicines which are not run of the mill rather than each health board holding a store of the medicine.

Of particular concern to the Committee, was repeat prescriptions and whether all the medicines were being used or whether patients end up with stockpiles due to the difficulties of altering the prescription.  This is an issue as money is wasted every day through patients receiving medicines they do not really need and which may not be required. The Government explained to the Committee that this was a ‘tripartite thing’ with the patient, pharmacy and prescriber all having responsibility.

The Committee would be keen to hear your experiences around this, or any other part of medicine management –we would welcome hearing your experiences via twitter @SeneddPAC or by e-mail seneddpac@assembly.wales

Next steps:

The Committee will be taking evidence from Health Boards and Pharmacists to explore how well best practice is being shared and their response to some of the Committee’s concerns.

The full meeting held in March can be watched on Senedd TV and the transcript for the meeting along with all the written evidence received by the Committee to date can be access on the Public Accounts Committee page.  The June meeting will be available on Senedd TV.

The Right to Buy in Wales is changing

R2B ELGC Keyring 2 EN

I’m John Griffiths AM (@JGriffithsLab), the Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.

John Griffiths AM

About the Abolition of the Right to Buy Bill

On 13 March, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant AM, introduced the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill into the Assembly. The Government’s aim for the proposed law is to protect the supply of social housing in Wales by ending all variations of the Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire.

What do the proposed changes mean?

The Right to Buy to buy for tenants of local authorities and registered landlords would be abolished after a period of at least one year after the introduction of the law. By introducing the proposed law, the Welsh Government’s stated aim is to protect the Welsh stock of social housing from reducing further, ensuring it is available to provide safe, secure and affordable housing for people who are unable to access the housing market to buy or rent a home.

Some local authorities, including Flintshire, Carmarthenshire and Anglesey have already suspended the Right to Buy scheme. The proposed law would end the Right to Buy scheme in all local authorities across Wales.

How could the changes affect me?

In making sure that existing tenants are aware of the changes, the proposed law requires the Welsh Government to publish information on its effects before abolition takes place, and social landlords must also in turn provide that information to every affected tenant within two months of the proposed law coming into force. After a waiting period of at least one year after coming into force, all rights will be abolished. This means every affected tenant can still exercise their Right to Buy within that period, but not after.

The Right to Buy across the UK

The Right to Buy and Associated Rights have already been brought to an end by the Scottish Government in Scotland, but a different approach is being taken in England by the UK Government. The UK Government has introduced its own plans to extend the Right to Buy Policy to more homes.

R2B2

The work of the Committee

The National Assembly for Wales’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee is a group of eight Assembly Members from across Wales who reflect the political makeup of the Assembly. Our job is to scrutinise decisions of the Welsh Government on matters within our remit to ensure they are in the best interests of Wales and its communities.

As the subject matter of the proposed law falls within the remit of the Committee, we have been asked to look at its ‘general principles’ or main aims. This is called ‘Stage 1’, and we use this part of the process to hear evidence and prepare a report making recommendations to the Welsh Government for changes to the proposed law if necessary. We have until 7 July to do this.

Getting involved

In May, the Committee intends to hold public engagement sessions across Wales to hear tenants’ views about the proposed law and the implications for them. These views will help inform the Committee’s inquiry alongside the written and oral evidence received.

If you are interested in taking part in these sessions, or would like us to visit, please e-mail celyn.cooper@assembly.wales.

A DialogueApp page has also been set up so that you can have your say on the Bill and share some of your ideas on how the Bill could be improved.

Updates

For all the latest information and developments, you can:

R2B ELGC Homes 1 EN.png

Ministerial Appointments: Pre appointment hearings

Simon Thomas AC/AMSimon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee, made a statement in Plenary on 5th April 2017 on the Committee’s behalf, outlining its experience of their pre appointment hearing for the Chair of the Welsh Revenue Authority.

The Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) will be established to collect and manage devolved Welsh taxes and will become operational from April 2018. The WRA is non-ministerial department of the Welsh Government. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government believed a pre appointment hearing would be beneficial given the unique status and governance arrangements for the Chair of the WRA.

The Committee felt encouraged by the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to transparency and accountability in recruiting public appointments, and welcomed the opportunity to help improve this procedure future pre appointment hearings. The Committee recognised the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to pre-appointment hearings, indeed, the Cabinet Secretary published an article in 2012 where he acknowledged the importance of pre appointment hearings. The Chair recognises that the Cabinet Secretary has taken the first steps to bring the Assembly in line with other parliamentary bodies who already have an established process in relation to pre appointment hearings.

In the Committee Statement the Chair detailed the constructive results the hearing produced; including giving the candidate exposure to parliamentary scrutiny in a public setting, something which an appointee to a post of this level needs to be prepared for.
In the statement, the Chair voiced that, as with any new procedure there is room for improvement. He outlined the Finance Committee’s suggestions for future pre-appointment hearings to include;

  • A statement by the Cabinet Secretary outlining why the Minister/Cabinet Secretary believes the candidate is suitable for the post.
  • Additional reporting time to be factored into the timescales.
  • Establishing a set list of public appointments that require a pre-appointment hearing.
  • The Chair’s vision for pre appointment hearings in the future is for them to strengthen transparency and accountability of ministerial appointments, which will increase public confidence in decisions made by both the Welsh Government and the Assembly.

You can find out more about the Assembly’s Finance Committee by visiting assembly.wales/seneddfinance. You can also follow the committee on Twitter @SeneddFinance.
Continue reading “Ministerial Appointments: Pre appointment hearings”

What can Wales do to address loneliness and isolation?

Figures from Age Cymru show that 75,000 older people in Wales feel lonely or isolated. Almost half of those surveyed said the television or a pet was their main companion.

strip

The National Assembly’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee has begun an inquiry looking how this issue affects older people in Wales. It will look at what support is available for older people and what more can be done to tackle the issue. The Committee will also look at the extent to which initiatives to combat loneliness and isolation experienced by other groups may also help older people.

There is evidence to suggest that loneliness and isolation can have a significant impact on physical and mental health and may be a cause of depression, sleep issues, stress, and even heart problems.

It’s therefore possible that preventing loneliness and isolation could  reduce the demand and pressure on health and social care services.

Loneliness and isolation are not the same thing – each can be experienced without the other. A person may feel lonely in a crowded room, isolated in a rural community or even vice versa.

The problem of loneliness and isolation has already been recognised by the Minister for Social Services and Public Health as an important public health issue, while the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has made tackling the problem a priority.

The Welsh Government already has a set of indicators to check its progress towards the achieving its ‘well-being goals’ one of which is to monitor the ‘percentage of people who are lonely’.

The Committee will be looking at this complex subject and the  wide range of services which can have an impact on it such as health, social care and community services, transport and even internet access.

Chair of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, Dai Lloyd AM:

“Isolation and loneliness can affect anyone,  employed or retired, living in a town, city or the countryside.

We already know the issues affect a high number of older people. Tackling the problem could  both help individuals feel better and could also  mean less demand on our health and social care services.

If you or someone you know is, or has been, affected by issues of loneliness or isolation, or you are involved in work to support them, then we would like to hear about your experiences and what ideas you think could help.”

If you would like to contribute to the inquiry you can find more information, including how, on the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee pages on the National Assembly’s website.

The Committee will be holding a Facebook Live session on 25/01 at 17.00 to talk more about the inquiry and invite people to take part.

You can also keep up to date with what the Committee are doing via their Twitter account – @SeneddHealth.

Culture, Welsh Language and Communications – Public decides on future committee inquiry

Over the last couple of months, the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee at the National Assembly for Wales has asked the people of Wales to decide what issues they should be investigating.

paint-halfsize-twitter-1-en

Although Assembly committees regularly involve the public in its work, and have done so using a variety of techniques (including events, focus groups, web-chats, surveys, video interviews, workshops, and crowdsourcing apps), this is the first time an Assembly committee has asked the people of Wales to decide a future committee inquiry.

How they sourced ideas

The chair of the Committee, Bethan Jenkins AM sat down with James Williams from BBC Wales to talk about the newly formed committee on Facebook live, the first time the National Assembly had ever done so. Bethan encouraged people to get in touch, and make suggestions for priority areas.

The Committee invited people to suggest ideas on Facebook, Twitter and by e-mail, and also held an event at the National Eisteddfod to continue the conversation.

What people said

A number of suggestions were received from a mix of organisations, groups and individuals, which were then grouped and presented to the Committee.  The members then cross referenced this public list with the priority areas they had identified in a planning session they had held.

There was a lot of common ground between the Committee members’ priority areas and the public list, including:

  • how the ambition of achieving a million Welsh speakers can be achieved
  • concern at the continuing decline of local media and local news journalism
  • lack of portrayal of Wales on UK broadcast networks
  • the role of Radio in Wales
  • the remit, funding and accountability of S4C

Continue reading “Culture, Welsh Language and Communications – Public decides on future committee inquiry”

Stakeholder event on the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales

Stakeholder event on the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales

On 17 November 2016, the Economy Infrastructure and Skills (EIS) Committee invited a wide range of stakeholders to consider some of the key issues around the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICW).

The NICW – which will be established next year – is currently subject to a consultation by the Welsh Government to confirm its remit and governance arrangements. The EIS Committee’s work on the NICW is intended to inform and contribute to the consultation.

This piece of work was recommended to the committee by a number of bodies during the Committee’s summer consultation on its future work programme.

picture10

What happened?

Members of the Committee and stakeholders – from the business, environmental and social sectors – discussed three key areas on which the committee is focusing:

  • How should the NICW be established?
    What should be the structure, status, remit and governance arrangements for a National Infrastructure Commission?
  • How should the NICW operate in practice?
    How should it work with the Welsh Government, and what is the nature of the relationship with the UK National Infrastructure Commission?
  • How should the NICW address sustainable development and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act?
    Should the Commission adopt sustainable development as its central organising principle, in line with Welsh Government priorities? How should the Well-being of Future Generations Act affect the work of the Welsh Commission?

picture6

Thanks for the participants

Russell George AM, chair of the EIS Committee, thanked contributors for sharing their expertise. He said:

“When we consulted with stakeholders over the summer, the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales was a big theme – which is why we as a committee have chosen to make it our first substantial piece of work.

“We are keen to look at international examples of best practice, but also to hear what particular needs we have here in Wales, and how best the Commission might meet them. The Commission will have a big influence on how Wales develops – so we have timed the Committee’s work to feed in to the Welsh Government’s consultation.”

picture1

What happens next?

The Committee took evidence from the construction and engineering sector on 17 November, and heard from the UK Infrastructure Commission, representatives of the city regions, and Minister Ken Skates early in December. It has also written to other infrastructure bodies around the World to gather examples of good practice.

The Committee intends to contribute to the Welsh Government’s consultation (which closes on 9 January) and will publish a report early in the New Year.