Category: Out and About

Financing the Future – Changes to the way money is raised and spent in Wales

Simon Thomas AC/AMHow can we ensure the Welsh public sector is equipped with the right financial skills? Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee, recently spoke at the Wales Audit Office ‘Finance for the Future’ event.

In the ever changing landscape of finance in Wales, it has never been more important to have home grown, talented professionals working collaboratively to effectively scrutinise spending in Wales.

On 1 November I was invited to speak at Finance for the Future 2016, by the Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas. This conference saw the launch of an innovative new scheme to increase skills of the public sector in the field of finance with the aim of providing sustainable public services for the future.

More photos from Finance for the Future 2016 are available on Facebook

I spoke at the conference in my role as Chair of the Finance Committee at the National Assembly for Wales. The Finance Committee is a cross party Committee which is primarily responsible for reporting on spending by the Welsh Government Ministers. We are also responsible for the oversight of the Wales Audit Office and the Auditor General, it was the previous Finance Committee that approved the funding for widening the Financial Trainee Scheme launched at the conference on 1 November 2016.

My speech in full is available to read here:

When talking to the trainees I was keen to stress the changes to fiscal devolution as we enter an important period in Welsh devolution, with the introduction of the first taxes to Wales in 800 years, the role of the Finance Committee in ensuring effective scrutiny and instilling public confidence is even more important. I explained how, as a Committee, we are currently scrutinising the ‘Land Transaction Tax and Anti Avoidance of Devolved Taxes Bill’ which will replace Stamp Duty Land Tax and we are expecting the ‘Landfill Disposal Tax Bill’ shortly.

These two taxes combined with the devolution of a portion of income tax will enable the Welsh Government to raise approximately £3 billion, making a more direct relationship between money raised and spent in Wales.  This change in fiscal power is driving my desire to see us nurture home grown talent to an even greater extent.

During my speech I talked about new obligations surrounding the ‘Well-being of Future Generations Act’. The last Assembly saw the introduction of the Act which aims to make public bodies listed in the Act, such as Health Boards and Local Authorities, think more about:

  • planning for the long-term,
  • working better with people and communities,
  • looking to prevent problems

As the Auditor General has such a key role in the implementation of this Act, I felt it was important to explain the process to the trainees. The Auditor General is required to report on how public bodies have applied the sustainable development principle in the way they set their objectives and the steps they take to meet those objectives. He is required to deliver this report to the National Assembly for Wales at least once in every five year electoral cycle.

With the progression of devolution in Wales, the introduction of the ‘Well-Being of Future Generations Act’ and the ‘Environment Act (Wales) 2016’ the importance of effective scrutiny by talented, home grown professionals can not be underestimated. That is why I am grateful to the Auditor General for not only for inviting me to speak at the conference of financial trainees, but for ensuring the development and progression of this scheme.

You can find out more about the the Assembly’s Finance Committee by visiting assembly.wales/seneddfinance. You can also follow the committee on Twitter – @SeneddFinance.

The Wales Audit Office supports the Welsh Auditor General as the public sector watchdog for Wales. Their aim is to ensure that the people of Wales know whether public money is being managed wisely and that public bodies in Wales understand how to improve outcomes. Find out more about their work at www.wao.gov.uk

Pride Cymru 2016

Blog by co-chairs of OUT-NAW, the National Assembly for Wales’ LGBT workplace network.

Wow, didn’t Wales put on an excellent display of LGBT diversity and inclusion for this year’s Pride Cymru weekend? With charity cycle rides, a rugby 7s tournament, venues hosting LGBT choirs, rainbow flags all over the city, a huge parade through Cardiff city centre and, once again, this was followed by the main event at Cooper’s Field.  Year on year, Pride Cymru gets bigger and better and we’re extremely proud to be part of the celebration which has clearly developed into one of Cardiff’s annual signature events.

As most people in Wales would expect, the National Assembly played its part once again. In addition to taking our outreach bus to Cooper’s field and flying the rainbow flags across our estate, this year we were delighted to be able to illuminate the Senedd with rainbow colours throughout the weekend.

We also took part in the parade for the first time. Joined by network members, Allies, role models, Management Board members, partners and family members, we couldn’t have expected more support. One of the first to volunteer was a huge advocate for equality and diversity, our Chief Executive, Claire Clancy.  We were all proud to stand shoulder to shoulder on the parade to show our commitment to the creation of a safe, fair and inclusive Wales.

NAfW at Pride
OUT-NAW members at the Pride Cymru march
Pride Banner etc
OUT-NAW members and the public enjoying the Pride Cymru march

Of course, our contribution on Cooper’s Field had to link back to democracy but this year we made it much more fun. Lots of people posed for photographs in our Senedd selfie frame which we tweeted throughout the day.  We were delighted to see new network member, Hannah Blythyn AM, before she spoke on the main stage.  In addition to our #KnowYourAM campaign and the consultation for our new diversity plan, many young people enthusiastically took part in the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s consultation on youth work.  Their views will feed into the Committee’s consideration and is exactly what our youth engagement strategy is designed to do – place young people’s views at the heart of the Assembly’s considerations.

Iestyn on bus
Young people taking part in the Youth Work inquiry

As Stonewall’s best public sector LGBT-inclusive workplace in Wales and third best organisation in the UK, we have assisted organisations in Wales and beyond with advice, resources, coaching and mentoring once again. That is what we should do to help create more and more inclusive workplaces where LGBT staff can be themselves and it’s important to us that we continue to do that. Of note this year is that a number of approaches have been made from beyond Wales’ border. We think it’s pretty exciting that others are taking notice of what Wales is doing and we’re always happy to help those who are trying to enter or improve their performance in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

What has been different this year is the development of our networks beyond the expected. Members of OUT-NAW, our LGBT workplace network, are now using their skills and experience to help others. Whether that’s with the Scouts who now have a presence at Pride Cymru through the efforts of one of our network members, one of our Allies joining the board of trustees for Chwarae Teg, LGBT committees at the Law Society or national unions, through to making links to the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus’ (SWGMC) charity work. Three members of OUT-NAW volunteer with Out and Proud, a project for LGBT+ young people in South Wales.  Hearing about the work of Out and Proud, realising that they operate on a shoe-string and couldn’t survive without willing volunteers, we decided to take action by using our own social connections and they are now the beneficiaries as the SWGMC’s nominated charity.

Making that link between our various networks has seen a wider benefit to the LGBT community and that is something to be very proud of. The young people themselves feel they’re supported not only by our volunteers but by the wider LGBT community too.  It was wonderful and moving to see them empowered to speak about their gender and sexuality issues at a recent South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus concert where hundreds of pounds were raised.  Equally inspiring was seeing them at the Assembly’s outreach bus during Pride Cymru and taking part in democratic processes through our consultation on youth services.  We need young people to feed their views into the heart of Welsh democracy and doing so from a minority viewpoint is so important.  After all, the Assembly represents all the communities of Wales so a diversity of views helps create a full and rounded picture of the issues under consideration.

So this brings us to the end of a busy year for OUT-NAW. While we are delighted to have introduced gender-neutral toilets for staff and visitors across our estate in Cardiff Bay this year, there is always more to do to help shape an inclusive democracy.  We take that responsibility seriously and we’re looking forward to the year ahead.

For another fantastic year, we would like to take this opportunity to thank OUT-NAW members, our Allies, the Assembly’s political leadership, our Management Board and the Diversity and Inclusion team, particularly Ross Davies for his drive, determination, skills and experience of LGBT diversity. He is a constant source of advice and guidance, ensuring that we take the right steps towards a more inclusive workplace.

Jayelle Robinson-Larkin and Craig Stephenson

Cyd-Gadeiryddion / Co-Chairs

OUT NAW logo
Out-Naw logo

View this post in Welsh

Proud to be marching with the Assembly at Pride Cymru

by Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly

Photograph of Claire Clancy wearing a rainbow garland to prepare for Pride Cymru
Claire Clancy preparing for Pride Cymru

This Saturday I will be joining members and fellow allies of OUT-NAW, our LGBT workplace network, in marching in the Pride Cymru parade through Cardiff. Although we have been attending Pride for many years, this is the first time that the Assembly has been part of the parade and I am delighted to be joining colleagues in promoting and encouraging LGBT equality.

I think it is important that the Assembly is represented at events such as this to show that we are committed to being an inclusive organisation. We are very proud of our success in the Stonewall Workplace Index, where we have been ranked as the third best LGBT-inclusive organisation in the UK.

I will be joined in the parade by other members of the Management Board as well as staff from across the organisation.

If you are in the city centre, please wave and support us. Also, if you are attending Pride don’t forget to visit the Assembly Outreach bus.

I would also like to wish the Assembly’s rugby team good luck in the Enfys 7’s LGBT-inclusive tournament this weekend. I’m sure they would be grateful of your support this weekend too.

The Llywydd’s press release provides more information on our Pride Cymru celebrations.

Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee – Stakeholder Introduction Event

The newly formed Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee of the National Assembly for Wales recently welcomed stakeholders to Cardiff to participate in an introduction event.

The purpose of the event was to give stakeholders the opportunity to meet new Members of the Committee and to speak to them about their priorities and aspirations for the Committee.

Individuals from organisations such as Careers Wales, Federation of Small Businesses, Arriva Trains Wales, Network Rail and Colegau Cymru arrived at the Senedd to view the Committee’s meeting first of all. This was an opportunity to see the Committee Members question the new Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM and to listen to his priorities and the content of his portfolio.

Following the Committee Meeting, stakeholders and Committee Members met at the Urdd Centre, where an event under a ‘speed-networking’ format took place.

Everyone were allocated to a table with people from different sectors and Assembly Members from the Committee.

There were discussions during the event around different aspects of the Committees remit.

They discussed that the Committee needed to look into various options for taking forward changes to business rates and also need to consider city regions, their purpose and what levers will they be given to succeed.

Discussions around transport included looking into the Government’s preparations for the next Welsh Rail Franchise and considering what improvements have been made to integrated public transport.

When discussing skills questions were raised around whether Wales is training the right people for the right skills. There was also a discussion around the Welsh Government’s budget reduction to Careers Wales and the impact of this on their role and remit.

The Committee will now take into consideration the points raised during the event in order to inform and shape their work for the next five years.

If you’d like further information about the Committee, or would like to keep up to date with their work, you can visit the Committee’s webpage.

You can also follow the Committee on twitter @SeneddEIS

#AskLlywydd – The Presiding Officer, Elin Jones AM, answers your questions

The Presiding Officer, Elin Jones AM, will be at the National Eisteddfod on 2 August in conversation with ITV Wales journalist Catrin Hâf Jones, talking about the unique challenges and opportunities she faces in the Fifth Assembly. The Presiding Officer will also answer questions from the audience and submitted through social media.

1E

Questions can be sent in advance or on the day, either by using #AskLlywydd  / #HoliLlywydd on Twitter, or by posting on the Assembly’s Facebook pages, where the session will be streamed live from 11:00am.

How do I watch?

If you are at the Eisteddfod you will be able to watch the interview live from 11:00am in the Societies 1 pavilion. If you are not able to attend we will be streaming the interview live in both English and Welsh to our Facebook accounts:

Assembly Wales Facebook

Cynylliad Cymru Facebook

You will also be able to watch the full interview on Senedd.tv after the event, along with transcripts.

How do I submit a question?

You can submit your questions for the Presiding Officer in a number of ways:

  • On Twitter – Follow @AssemblyWales on Twitter and reply to any tweets relating to this topic, or use the hashtag #AskLlywydd. Also feel free to Direct Message us if you’d like it to be confidential.
  • On Facebook – Like the Assembly’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on a relevant status. If you can’t see a relevant status then leave a comment on the page with the hashtag #AskLlywydd.
  • E-Mail – You can send your questions by e-mail to: communications@assembly.wales 
  • On Instagram – If you can express your views in a creative visual way we’d love to see it. Tag our Senedd Instagram account within your picture or just use the hashtag #AskLlywydd. Alternatively you can leave a comment on any one of our Instagram posts again with the hashtag #AskLlywydd
  • On YouTube – Why not film yourself asking your question and then send us the link through any of the channels above?
  • Comments – Leave a comment on this blog post right now!

Need some ideas?

The Assembly for Wales can make laws in 21 devolved areas:

  • Agriculture, Forestry, Animals, Plants and Rural Development
  • Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings
  • Culture
  • Economic Development
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Fire and Rescue Services and Fire Safety
  • Food
  • Health
  • Highways and Transport
  • Housing
  • Local government
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Public Administration
  • Social Welfare
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Taxation
  • Tourism
  • Town and Country Planning
  • Water and Flood Defence
  • Welsh Language

Here are some further links that you may also find helpful:

Key Issues for the Fifth Assembly – This publication sets out a selection of issues likely to matter in the Fifth Assembly, from the steel industry to the future of Welsh law-making.

Wales and the EU: What does the vote to leave the EU mean for Wales? – Our Research Service explains what could happen after the Leave vote in Wales.

New Assembly Commission launches strategy for Fifth Assembly – News article about the new strategy for the fifth Assembly.

The Role of the Presiding Officer – Information about the role of the Presiding officer.

 More about Elin Jones AM, Presiding Officer

Elin Jones AM is the current Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales.

The Presiding Officer is the highest authority in the Assembly and chairs the meeting of all 60 Assembly Members in Plenary, remaining politically impartial at all times.

The Presiding Officer also plays an active role in representing the Assembly and Wales’s interests on a national, UK and international stage. They chair the Assembly Commission, which makes sure that Assembly Members have the staff and resources they need to carry out their roles effectively for the people of Wales.

The key functions of the Presiding Officer are:

  • to chair Plenary meetings;
  • to determine questions as to the interpretation or application of Standing Orders;
  • to represent the Assembly in exchanges with any other bodies, whether within or outside the United Kingdom, in relation to matters affecting the Assembly.

See also:

Llywydd gives evidence to Assembly Committee – Changes the Presiding Officer would like to make to the Wales Bill.

Elin Jones lays out what she wants to achieve as Presiding Officer of the National Assembly – An interview with WalesOnline on what the Presiding Officer wants to achieve in her role over the next five years.

What happens next?

Once all your questions have been collected, a few will be selected and answered on the day by the Presiding Officer.

We will collate your questions and pass them to Catrin Hâf Jones before the interview. She will then incorporate them into her conversation with Elin Jones AM, Presiding Officer. If you’re at the Eisteddfod you can come and watch the interview in person, or watch live via our Facebook pages. Afterwards, the conversation will be available online on Senedd.TV. We’ll let you know if your question was answered.

The Presiding Officer in conversation with Catrin Hâf Jones will take place on 2 August at 11:00am at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny.

We look forward to hearing your views!

If you are at the Eisteddfod you will be able to watch the interview live from 11:00am in the Societies 1 pavilion. If you are not able to attend we will be streaming the interview live in both English and Welsh to our Facebook accounts:

Assembly Wales Facebook

Cynylliad Cymru Facebook

You will also be able to watch the full interview on Senedd.tv after the event, along with transcripts.

View this post in Welsh

Public Health (Wales) Bill: Tattooing, body modification and intimate piercing

Article by Amy Clifton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service, In Brief blog.

On Tuesday, 8 December 2015 the Assembly will debate the Public Health (Wales) Bill in Plenary. The Health and Social Care Committee, tasked with scrutinising the legislative proposal, issued a Report on the Bill last week and made a number of recommendations and suggested amendments.

At the start of the consultation, the Assembly’s Outreach team conducted a national survey to ask the people of Wales what they thought of the Welsh Government proposals relating to e-cigarettes, special procedures and intimate piercing.

Much of the attention surrounding the Public Health (Wales) Bill has focused on e-cigarettes. However another interesting area of the Bill concerns special procedures and intimate piercing (Parts 3 and 4 of the Bill).

Special procedures

The Bill as drafted would create a mandatory licensing scheme for practitioners and businesses carrying out special procedures in Wales. The special procedures currently included are acupuncture, electrolysis, body piercing and tattooing, although the Bill would also allow Welsh Ministers to amend this list through secondary legislation.

Many stakeholders indicated in their evidence to the Committee that there is currently a significant lack of quality control within the tattoo and piercing industries. The Committee heard alarming reports that many procedures are being done by people with little, if any, knowledge of anatomy, infection control or healing processes.

Stakeholders also highlighted additional procedures they believe should be included the Bill. These included body modification (scarification, dermal implants, branding and tongue splitting), injection of liquid into the body (botox or dermal fillers), and laser treatments (tattoo removal or hair removal).

The Assembly Outreach team made a short video, interviewing practitioners across Wales:

Tattoo artists in the video express particular concern about branding, scarification, ‘extreme body modification’ (such as tongue splitting and penis splitting) and dermal implants. They explain that scarification (where a section of the skin is removed to leave a scar) is often performed dangerously.

The tattooists also say that branding is being done with blowtorches and bent coat hangers, and adapted soldering irons, and describe concerns about dermal implants, such as inserting horns and stars under the skin:

Inserting foreign objects into your body is not a good thing without some sort of legislative weight behind it to say, ‘That’s unsafe’, or, ‘Is the material safe?’ or ‘Has it been checked?’; ‘Is it sterile? Have you autoclaved it before you put it in there? Where did you get it from? Has this come out of a five-penny ball machine round the corner?’

Intimate piercing

The Bill proposes to set an age restriction of 16 years old for intimate piercing. It defines the intimate body parts as the anus, breast, buttock, natal cleft, penis, perineum, pubic mound, scrotum and vulva.

Whilst there is support for the principle of an age restriction, many stakeholders believe that 18 would be a more appropriate minimum age limit for intimate areas. For example, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) believes that 18 would be a more appropriate age restriction, as this is in line with the minimum age for tattooing, and reflects the level of maturity needed to make such decisions. Stakeholders also reasoned that an individual aged 16 is still growing and therefore the risk of damage to skin is greater. It was also noted that intimate body piercings require a higher standard of aftercare than tattoos, as they are potentially more susceptible to infection.

Dr Ncube supports a higher age limit, noting that there are long term implications with genital piercing. He gave a case study example of a father with a genital piercing, who was playing with his daughter, and his daughter accidentally kicked him.

The trauma that was caused by the genital piercing resulted in the formation of gangrene in his penis. It’s a condition called Fournier’s condition. Because of that, the scarring that occurred was profound. So, genital piercing is attended with considerable risks, and it’s not just the piercing alone that is important, but it’s the long-term implications of it.

There was also a strong message from stakeholders, including Public Health Wales, that tongue piercing should be included in this part of the Bill, with witnesses describing a high risk of complications, harm and infection.

Plenary debate

You can watch the debate on the Public Health (Wales) Bill live on senedd.tv or catch-up at a later date. For more information on the work of the Committee, visit their website on www.assembly.wales/seneddhealth

Assembly shines at Sparkle

By Kelly Harris, Youth Engagement Officer

On Saturday 7 November, myself and Craig Stephenson, Assembly Director and Chair of our LGBT staff network, took a stall to Swansea Sparkle to talk to the public about the work of the Assembly and how they could become involved.

Swansea Sparkle was organised by Tawe Butterflies and South Wales Police, which provided an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate equality and diversity. The aim was to break down barriers between the public and the Transgender community by bringing organisations from across Wales and the U.K. together to showcase the support, information and advice available to the community.

It was a really interesting day and we had lots of interest about the Assembly. Many people were unaware that they had five Assembly Members whose job it is to represent them in the Assembly, so it was the perfect opportunity to provide them with our Explore the Assembly: Your Assembly Member Guide and chat with them about what issues they might face in their communities. Two Assembly Members came to the stall to say hello and have their picture taken with us – Julie James (Swansea West Constituency) and Peter Black (South West Wales Regional) – it was great to have their support at the event.

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to a young person who is currently transitioning. I felt very honoured that they shared their story with me, and it was interesting to hear their experiences – both the happy and the sad parts. There have been big steps taken to make sure that the voices of the Transgender community are heard, but it is very clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. I took the time to make sure that the young person knew of all the different ways they could become involved in the work of the Assembly, even down to how hard the Assembly works to make sure our workforce is diverse and fully representative of Welsh communities. It was great to get their feedback on what else they thought the Assembly could work on, which will be fed back to our excellent Equality Team.

I also explained about who the Children’s Commissioner for Wales is and what their job is, so that if they felt they needed someone to help them in the future, they have someone else they can contact. It is important for all young people in Wales to know about the Children’s Commissioner.

Overall it was an excellent day – well organised and very welcoming! I can’t wait to go back next year!

Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall's No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge
Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall’s No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge