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Written Assembly Questions tabled on 26 January 2016 for answer on 2 February 2016

R - Signifies the Member has declared an interest.
W - Signifies that the question was tabled in Welsh.

(Self-identifying Question no. shown in brackets)

Written Questions must be tabled at least five working days before they are to be answered. In practice, Ministers aim to answer within seven/eight days but are not bound to do so. Answers are published in the language in which they are provided, with a translation into English of responses provided in Welsh.

To ask the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

Kirsty Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): Will the Minister confirm how much of the Flying Start budget in 2014-15 was spent on the childcare element of this scheme? (WAQ69712)

Answer received on 5 February 2016

The Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty (Lesley Griffiths): During the 2014-15 financial year Local Authorities spent £28,119,633 of their Flying Start budget on the Childcare element of the Flying Start programme.

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills

David Melding (South Wales Central): How is the Welsh Government facilitating interactions among people with disabilities looking for work, potential employers, and third-party support organisations? (WAQ69718)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

The Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology (Julie James)   Employment policy is not devolved and responsibility lies with UK Government through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who operate a number of employment schemes that support people into work.

However, one of the Welsh Government's key priorities is to progress young people and adults into employment at the earliest opportunity and our programmes are open to all irrespective of their personal circumstances.  

During the latest procurement tender exercise for the Work Based Learning (WBL) employability programmes, all providers were required to demonstrate current established links with employers and third sector organisations in order to facilitate work placements for their trainees.

Providers also had to evidence how they would ensure employers and third sector organisations offering work tasters would actively support learners, including those with a disability, through their programme of learning.

The current Work Ready programme will be replaced by 'Skills for Employment Wales' in April 2016.  During the consultation phase for the design of this programme, officials met with a number of representatives from several special interest groups to better understand issues around work based learning delivery.  The new programme will aim to address these issues.

Whilst it is accepted that employment policy is currently not a devolved responsibility, the Welsh Government is responsible for a number of actions that work alongside the employment programmes available through the DWP, including skills support and careers advice and guidance.  These DWP initiatives include: 

  • Access to a specialist Disability Employment Adviser';
  • Access to Work - practical support for individuals who have a disability, health or mental health condition to help them start work, stay in work or move into self-employment or start a business.
  • 'Work Choice', a DWP run employment support programme specifically for people with disabilities.

The Welsh Government continues to develop links with the DWP to support disabled people and people with a health condition to move into employment, in particular, we are currently working with DWP to deliver the European funded Communities for Work programme which is tackling long term worklessness in some of our most deprived communities.  Welsh Government officials also hold regular liaison meetings with DWP and JobCentre Plus (JCP) in Wales on a range of employment issues, including those relating to people with disabilities.

 

David Melding (South Wales Central): How is the Welsh Government including people with disabilities in its efforts to reduce unemployment in Wales? (WAQ69721)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

Julie James:

Employment policy is not devolved and remains the responsibility of the UK Government through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

However, the Welsh Government is committed to ensuring that all people are equipped with the skills they need to secure satisfying careers and we operate a number of initiatives to support disabled people into work:

The Work Based Learning (WBL) suite of employability programmes, consisting of Traineeships (aged 16-18), Work Ready (aged 18 plus) and Apprenticeships (all-age), aim to support individuals to enter employment or learning at a higher level.    

Providers are able to claim 'Additional Learning Support' (ALS) funding to assist them with the costs of securing the necessary technical or human support, to make their provision accessible to learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. 

Through our ongoing commitment to continuous quality improvement we look to improve equality and diversity across our programmes. We require our contracted WBL providers to demonstrate their commitment to increasing the numbers of individuals from under-represented groups, including disability groups, onto our programmes.

Further Education (FE) Institutions

Nearly all FE institutions offer provision for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LLDD).  This includes discrete provision, typically at entry level or level 1, which helps young people prepare for work or to move onto mainstream learning opportunities, such as vocational programmes which prepare young people for work in their chosen field.

Colleges also provide support for LLDD to access vocational or general educational programmes alongside their peers.

ALS funding is also provided to FE institutions to help them make their programmes accessible for LLDD.  This funding can contribute towards the costs of providing additional support necessary to make college provision accessible to learners and can be used to pay for additional support as required, such as 1:1 support in class, additional tutorial support, or specialist support. It can also include technical equipment such as specialist software. 

Whilst it is accepted that employment policy is currently not a devolved responsibility, the Welsh Government is responsible for a number of actions that work along side the employment programmes available through the DWP, including skills support and careers advice and guidance.  These DWP initiatives include: 

  • Access to a specialist Disability Employment Adviser';
  • Access to Work - that can pay for practical support for individuals who have a disability, health or mental health condition to help them start work, stay in work or move into self-employment or start a business. 
  • 'Work Choice', a DWP run employment support programme specifically for people with disabilities. 

The Welsh Government continues to develop links with the DWP to support disabled people and people with a health condition to move into employment.  In particular, we are currently working with DWP to deliver the European funded Communities for Work programme which is tackling long term worklessness in some of our most deprived communities.  Welsh Government officials also hold regular liaison meetings with DWP and JobCentre Plus (JCP) in Wales on a range of employment issues, including those relating to people with disabilities.

To ask the Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport

Kirsty Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): Will the Minister confirm how much of the budget for the youth concessionary fare scheme has been allocated to each local authority in Wales? (WAQ69715)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

The Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport (Edwina Hart):

The pilot Young Persons Discounted Bus Travel Scheme was launched on 1 September 2015.  The funding is allocated to regional groupings who distribute funding directly to operators as part of the Bus Service Support Grant mechanism.

The funding package for 2015/16 comprised a total £5 million, of which £1m was allocated for scheme start up and card issue. Of the remaining £4 million, £1,941,520 was allocated to local authorities in South East Wales, £801,960 in South West Wales, £1,010,720 in North Wales, £97,440 in Ceredigion and £148,360 in Powys. 

 

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Minister provide details of the scope of the work of the Welsh Government's transport advisory group? (WAQ69716)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

Edwina Hart: The Transport Strategic Advisory Board provides the Welsh Government with expert advice and support in connection with developing an integrated transport solution for Wales. 

 

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Minister make a statement on the role of the transport advisory group in relation to rail franchising? (WAQ69717)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

Edwina Hart: The Board is advisory in nature. In relation to rail franchising, the role of Board is to provide expert strategic advice and support to the Welsh Government in development of the next Wales and Borders franchise from October 2018.

 

Simon Thomas (Mid and West Wales): Will the Minister make a statement on support for independent museums in Wales, such as Tenby Museum and Art Gallery? (WAQ69722)W

Answer received on 5 February 2016

The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism (Ken Skates):

Support for independent museums in Wales is provided by the Welsh Government through our Museums, Archives and Libraries Division.  We work closely with the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Association for Independent Museums to help our local museums.

 

Kirsty Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): Will the Minister make a statement on the impact that the re-mapping of the Wales and Border franchise will have on train services on the Heart of Wales line? (WAQ69723)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

Edwina Hart: Discussions with the UK Government about the scope of services to be included in a future franchise awarded by the Welsh Ministers are ongoing.  No decision has been taken to re-map any services.

 

To ask the Minister for Health and Social Services

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Minister carry out an inquiry into ambulance response times in Wales following the two-and-a-half-hour wait recently experienced by Penarth resident, Carol Bailey? (WAQ69714)

Answer received on 5 February 2016

Deputy Minister for Health (Vaughan Gething):

There will be no inquiry into ambulance response times in Wales.

Ministers cannot comment on individual cases. However, we expect all patients to receive a timely response from the ambulance service, in line with their illness or injury. Ambulance resources are despatched in order of clinical priority and we expect clinical contact centre staff to provide regular updates to the caller if there are delays to their care. I understand that the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust are investigating concerns raised regarding the individual case that is referred to.

My written statement about the new clinical response model introduced by the Welsh Ambulance Service in October 2015 explains how calls are prioritised and responded to during the year-long pilot: http://gov.wales/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2015/ambulanceresponsetimetarget/?lang=en

Although the Welsh Ambulance Service's new red category cannot be directly compared with the red one category used by English ambulance services – more conditions are captured in the Welsh red category – the latest figures show a higher proportion of immediately life-threatening 999 calls received a response within eight minutes in Wales compared to England.

 

David Melding (South Wales Central): What models do Welsh healthcare providers use to schedule health services and how does the Welsh Government propose changing these models to achieve its goals to reduce patient waiting times? (WAQ69720)

Answer received on 10 February 2016

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Mark Drakeford):  The Planning Framework and guidance was issued to NHS organisations in October 2015 setting out clear planning requirements for 2016-17 against which organisations are expected to plan and deliver services.  Each organisation is required to submit a plan which reflects the key priorities set out in the guidance and identifies how they will deliver the required levels of performance supported by the appropriate capacity and workforce plans within the context of a balanced financial position.

The guidance is underpinned by the specific service mode implementation plans developed by the Planned Care Programme.

Effective planning ensures that organisations work efficiently and deliver continuous improvement against the priorities highlighted in the guidance.

To ask the Minister for Public Services

David Melding (South Wales Central): What measures are in place to introduce the latest mathematical and operational research techniques to improve Welsh public services? (WAQ69719)

Answer received on 2 February 2016

The Minister for Public Services (Leighton Andrews): We encourage all public services to develop their use of data and research to ensure they are designing public services that are effective, operationally efficient and deliver the best outcomes for the citizen. This was a clear theme of the Public Service Summit with contributions from Sir Michael Barber, who has undertaken extensive work on education and wider public service improvement globally, and Kevin Donahue, who introduced data-led performance accountability approaches at city, State and Federal level in Washington DC.

The Summit engaged the most senior public service leaders in Wales in building the skills, capability and tools they, and their teams, need to make the best use of the evidence they hold and to benchmark with others.  This includes the use of mathematical techniques and predictive analysis but also the use of qualitative information, randomised control trials, evaluation and local intelligence, potentially through partnership with third parties.  These approaches are being tested and applied to inform decision making across the public service, for example I am funding behavioural insights trials on Council Tax and voter registration and the Public Service Leadership Panel will discuss predictive analytics at its next meeting.  

The Well-being of Future Generations Act provides a catalyst to apply these approaches more consistently and enable us to identify the interventions which will make the greatest contribution to achieving the well-being goals.

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