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Written Assembly Questions tabled on 16 March 2016 for answer on 23 March 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 Natural Resources

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide information regarding Welsh Government consultation with key stakeholders in the construction industry to improve energy efficiency and safety in new build homes? (WAQ70095)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

The Minister for Natural Resources (Carl Sargeant):

The most recent consultation on energy efficiency in new homes took place in 2013 and led to the changes to the 2014 Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power).

A consultation on further changes to the building regulations is underway.  The changes propose improvements to the sustainability  and physical security of residential buildings.

 

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide information on Welsh Government support for housing developers and local authorities in relation to rural planning? (WAQ70089)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Carl Sargeant:

Planning policy in respect of rural areas is set out in Planning Policy Wales and Technical Advice Notes, including TAN2 Planning and Affordable Housing and TAN6 Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister explain the current position of community councils within the planning process? (WAQ70116)

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister outline whether the Welsh Government includes community councils within the planning processes? (WAQ70117)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Carl Sargeant:

Community and town councils should be integral to the planning process.  They should be involved by local planning authorities in the preparation of local development plans.  Jointly with local planning authorities they may prepare place plans to apply adopted local development plan policies in detail to a specific area, such as a town or a village.

Local planning authorities are required to notify community and town councils of planning applications they have received.  A community or town council can choose to make representations on any application to the local planning authority.  The weight attached to any representation made will be determined by the planning merits of the points raised.

 

To ask the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister make a statement on the completion of new homes in Wales during the period 2011-16? (WAQ70078)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

The Minsiter for Communities and Tackling Poverty (Lesley Griffiths):  The number of completions increased from 5,505 in 2010-11 to 6,170 in 2014-15. During the October to December quarter of 2015-16, a total of 1,976 new dwellings were completed, 13%  more than the same quarter of 2014-15.


Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister make a statement on Help to Buy in Wales? (WAQ70079)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths:  The Help to Buy – Wales scheme continues to successfully support home owners and the construction of new homes across Wales.  As of 31st January 2016, three quarters of home owners supported by the scheme have been first time buyers.  The second phase I announced in December, will invest up to £290 million, with a view to supporting the construction of over 6000 additional new homes by 2021.


Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of how many first time buyers under the age of 40 that have used Help to Buy in Wales in the years 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16? (WAQ70080)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths:  Since the introduction of the scheme in January 2014 until 31st of January 2016, there have been 2,009 completed Help to Buy – Wales purchases from first time buyers under the age of 40. 

Personal data protection restrictions prevent a detailed breakdown of figures.


Mark Isherwood (North Wales):

How will the Minister monitor the outcomes of the Enable-Support for Independent Living adaptations programme? (WAQ70081)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: Enable will be monitored from the  start with a comprehensive monitoring and reporting performance system. There will be one core set of information covering all adaptations by all providers. The data will include feedback from the recipients of adaptations, to determine their level of satisfaction with the assistance received. This will enable us to identify opportunities to further improve services for users.

I will also be commissioning an independent evaluation of the new system during this first year, to identify what is working and what needs to be improved.

 

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Which targets will the Minister use to assess the success of the 'Enable - Support for Independent Living' adaptations programme? (WAQ70082)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: I would expect to see "Very Small" adaptations completed in no longer than seven days. It is more difficult to set targets for the other two categories at this stage as they may involve detailed assessments, financial contributions,  structural changes and planning permission. However, we will be gathering data on delivery of all adaptations which will allow targets to be set in future.
 
Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of social housing adapted to meet the needs of disabled tenants in the years 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16? (WAQ70083)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: The table below indicates where available for each financial year, the combined number of Mandatory Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) provided by Local Authorities to meet the needs of Council tenants, Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and Crown Properties and Physical Adaptation Grants provided by Welsh Government to Registered Social Landlords to meet the needs of RSL tenants.

2011/122012/132013/142014/152015/16
1,3051,2691,8431,872Not available yet

 

"A detailed breakdown of the DFG element is available at:

https://statswales.wales.gov.uk/Catalogue/Housing/Disabled-Facitilities-Grants/disabledfacilitiesgrants-by-area-granttype

 

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of the amount of tenants evicted in Wales due to anti-social behaviour in the years 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16? (WAQ70084)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths:    The Welsh Government does not hold this information.

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of tenants rehomed due to anti-social behaviour in 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16? (WAQ70085)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths:  The Welsh Government does not  hold this information.


Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister outline Welsh Government support for local authorities, registered social landlords and private landlords to rehome tenants who have been evicted due to anti-social behaviour? (WAQ70086)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: Last year we  introduced a radical reform of homelessness legislation to ensure everyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homelessness receives the help they need to find or keep a home. Local Authorities must work with people who have been evicted, including those who are evicted for anti-social behaviour, to identify issues that need to be addressed in order they can find and retain alternative rented accommodation. Registered Social Landlords are obliged to co-operate with Local Authorities in implementing the duties under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 and Local Authorities are also expected to work with private landlords to secure suitable housing solutions.  The Supporting People programme can be utilised to help people who display anti-social behaviour to address their problems by providing support which improves their ability to retain a tenancy.


Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister outline current Welsh Government support for the building of affordable housing in rural areas? (WAQ70087)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths:

Increasing the supply of housing is a key priority for this Government. We have funded Rural Housing Enabler projects during this administration and I have committed up to £100,000 for 2016-17 to continue this support.

We support the development of affordable housing across Wales including rural areas through the Social Housing Grant programme and Housing Finance Grant.

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of affordable housing built in Welsh rural areas in the years 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16? (WAQ70088)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths:
The table below provides details on the numbers of affordable homes delivered each year from 2011-12 to 2015-16 in each of the rural local authorities in Wales.

Additional Affordable Housing delivered across the nine rural authorities of Wales (a)
     Number
 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15  Planned for delivery in 2015-16 (b)
Isle of Anglesey49110313785
Gwynedd37666518241
Conwy324515878116
Denbighshire6061167434
Powys38105934959
Ceredigion119151621125
Pembrokeshire265980158136
Carmarthenshire92874047169
Monmouthshire191851595385
Total for all rural local authorities644633658699850

 

Source – Affordable Housing Provision Data Collection, Welsh Government

Footnotes -

(a)The information provided is taken from returns from Local Authorities and Welsh Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) detailing all additional affordable housing delivered, planned or proposed. Figures include all additional affordable housing units (including general needs, supported housing, sheltered accommodation and extra care units), whether through new build, purchase, acquisition, leasing or conversion of existing dwellings.

(b)Figures for 2015-16 are estimates and may be subject to change when reported as 'Delivered' in future years.


 
Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister make a statement on Welsh Government support for registered social landlords and local authorities in achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard? (WAQ70090)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: Welsh Government provides up to £108 million every year through Major Repairs Allowance and Dowry Gap funding to social landlords to meet and maintain the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. This enables landlords to draw in an estimated £500 million of additional funding to support these improvements and jobs and training opportunities in our poorest communities. 

We also provide guidance on the Standard and how it should be met, and on the development of acceptable 30 year business plans, which are analysed by us to ensure they are viable and Landlords are on track to deliver. This is underpinned by regular engagement and monitoring visits. 


 
Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister make a statement on Welsh Government support for registered social landlords and local authorities who fail the Welsh Housing Quality Standard? (WAQ70091)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: All social landlords are on track to meet Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020.  My officials are regularly monitoring landlords to ensure this remains the case.  
 
Mark Isherwood (North Wales): What consultations has the Minister had with local authorities and registered social landlords, so that her response to WAQ70013, that "all Landlords are on track to meet the [Welsh Housing Quality] Standard by 2020" may be quantified? (WAQ70092)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: Social landlords provide annual business plans and statistical returns evidencing how they meet and maintain WHQS. 

A recent requirement is for every Landlord to produce a Compliance Policy to demonstrate the achievement and maintenance of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard to us and also to their Boards and their tenants.


Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a breakdown of carbon monoxide related injuries and deaths in Wales in social and private sector housing since 2011? (WAQ70093)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

The Minister for Natural Resources (Carl Sargeant):

The latest analysis of statistics relating to England and Wales which include the period 2011-15 are included in the Cross Government Group On Gas Safety And Carbon Monoxide (CO) Awareness.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/cross-government-group-1415.pdf

 
Mark Isherwood (North Wales): In light of the Minister's response to WAQ70011, is the Minister able to explain why the average percentage of vacant housing units available for letting has decreased by 6 per cent? (WAQ70096)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: 

The percentage of vacant social housing stock which was available for letting decreased to 51 per cent of vacant social housing stock at 31 March 2015, compared with 57 per cent a year earlier.

Not all social housing stock vacant at 31 March 2015 will be available for letting as it may be subject to repair, improvement, demolition or other measures to better meet housing need in the future. 

The proportion of vacant social housing stock available for letting may vary from year to year. 


 
Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister make a statement on rent controls in private sector housing? (WAQ70097)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: The private rented sector is playing an increasingly important part in meeting people's housing needs. The idea of introducing rent controls would require very careful consideration and is a matter for the next Government.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What analysis has the Minister made to date of the Right to Bid, Right to Challenge and assets of community value? (WAQ70113)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Lesley Griffiths: I held a consultation exercise between May and September last year to seek views on Protecting Community Assets.  On 7 December 2015 I published a Written Statement on Assets of Community Value. This provides an overview of the responses to the consultation. The Written Statement can be found at:

http://gov.wales/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2015/communityvalue/?lang=en

The full report on the Protecting Community Assets consultation responses can be found at:

http://gov.wales/consultations/people-and-communities/protecting-community-assets-consultation/?status=closed&lang=en     

Work in this area continues across Welsh Government, co-ordinated through the National Assets Working Group. Last week I took the decision to provide additional funding to extend a pilot project in Gwent which provides support to community groups involved in Community Asset Transfers. I believe this will provide valuable additional information for analysis about these processes from a community, Third Sector and Local Authority perspective. The Minister for Finance and Government Business has also just published a revised edition of the guidance produced last year by the National Assets Working Group, which is partly aimed as supporting community groups to take charge of assets.

 

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills

Lynne Neagle (Torfaen): Will the Minister make a statement detailing how he will ensure that parents and communities are consulted on the review of the school reorganisation process? (WAQ70098)

Answer received on 24 March 2016

The Minister for Education and Skills (Huw Lewis): As the need for a review has not been identified, this answer can only be hypothetical. Consultation plans are developed at the relevant time, and can be designed to encourage maximum participation by parents or any other parties with a particular interest. A number of methods can be considered in order to promote engagement.

 

Lynne Neagle (Torfaen): When does the Minister intend to begin the review of the school reorganisation process established by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013? (WAQ70099)

Answer received on 24 March 2016

Huw Lewis: When the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 (the Act) was introduced, there was a commitment to monitor local authority performance on school organisation. It was agreed that findings arising from this monitoring would determine the need for any future review of the new legislative framework. It was acknowledged that it would be unlikely that any conclusions about the need for a review could be drawn until the system had been properly embedded and sufficient data obtained. A period of at least 3 years was identified as necessary for this purpose. The Act will have been fully in force for 3 years in October 2016. I have therefore not yet taken a view on whether a review is necessary. This will be a decision for the next Minister responsible for education.

 

To ask the Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport

Llyr Gruffydd (North Wales): Will the minister confirm that official objections to the M4 draft orders consultation can be made by email to the following address info@m4-can.co.uk and that every consultation response will be treated equally? (WAQ70073)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

The Minister for the Economy, Science and Transport (Edwina Hart): This is not a further public consultation exercise. The project is now in a statutory process where stakeholders can formally object to, support or suggest alternatives to the draft Orders, or comment on the environmental information as detailed in the published material.

While the info@m4-can.com email address was set up for the purpose of addressing general queries, should anyone reply to it for the purposes of this statutory process, the project team will ensure it is  forwarded to my officials to be formally registered. All correspondence received as part of this statutory process will be treated equally.

 

Angela Burns (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire): Will the Minister disclose the criteria a micro-business must meet to determine whether it is entitled to receive financial assistance? (WAQ70074)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Edwina Hart: The Micro Business Loan Fund will invest only in Micro Businesses and Social Enterprises in Wales. Specific criteria used in appraising opportunities will include:

  • Number of employees to be less than 9
  • Company to be located in Wales
  • Evidence of a sustainable proposition with possible growth potential
  • The Fund may not support businesses that would be regarded as "undertakings in difficult"

 

Angela Burns (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire): Will the Minister disclose the number of micro-businesses in each county that have been refused financial assistance? (WAQ70075)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Edwina Hart: The Micro Business Loan Fund is managed by Finance Wales, which is a subsidiary of the Welsh Government and operates at arms length.  The information you have requested is not held by Welsh Government.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister outline the Welsh Government support available to Welsh businesses who are bidding for local authority and public service contracts? (WAQ70119)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Edwina Hart:  Welsh businesses interested in bidding for public service contracts can register on sell2wales.gov.wales to search and receive alerts for new contact and sub-contract opportunites.  The site along with businesswales.gov.wales provides practical guidance on tendering for public service contracts, including details of the one-to-one tendering advice services and procurement workshops run by Business Wales.  'How to tender' and 'meet the buyer' workshopos are also held for major procurements projects.

 

To ask the Minister for Health and Social Services

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Which authority in Wales oversees the implementation of NICE Quality Standards by Health Boards? (WAQ70069)

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): What action is being taken to monitor progress in developing services against the relevant NICE Quality Standards? (WAQ70070)

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): What action is being taken to monitor progress in the development of inflammatory bowel disease care and services in Wales against the NICE Quality Standards for IBD? (WAQ70071)

Mark Isherwood (North Wales): What action has the Minister taken to implement the NICE Quality Standards for inflammatory bowel disease? (WAQ70072)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

The Minister for Health and Social Services (Mark Drakeford): The Health and Care Standards for Wales require organisations to have effective governance arrangements in place to ensure and monitor the provision of safe and effective care (standard 3.1). This includes taking into account all relevant evidence and guidance including NICE quality standards.

A key remit of the NICE Liaison Group – a sub group of, and accountable to the National Quality and Safety Forum – is to encourage a systematic approach to NICE guidance and quality standards in Wales as part of a wider national commitment to continue to improve quality.

The Welsh Government has encouraged health boards to sign up to the UK IBD registry to ensure the collection of patient data to evaluate outcomes and improve patient care and we are monitoring progress.

 

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): What action is the Welsh Government taking to address long waiting times and cancelled and delayed follow-up appointments in secondary care ophthalmology services and how will progress be monitored? (WAQ70076)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Mark Drakeford:

I expect everyone to be seen in order of clinical priority, whether they are waiting for an initial outpatient appointment, treatment, or follow-up appointments.

The first implementation plan to be launched by the clinician-led Planned Care Programme was for ophthalmology. The plan will help to develop sustainable ophthalmic services. It is available at:

http://gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/150130opthamicimplementen.pdf

The Welsh Government published the Securing the Health and Wellbeing for Future Generations plan in February, which includes a series of immediate actions to improve care, including a radical redesign of outpatients. The plan is available at: http://www.prudenthealthcare.org.uk/securing-health-and-wellbeing-for-future-generations/

The Welsh Government has announced £400,000 funding for four pilot schemes to move services for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) out of hospitals and into local communities, making it more convenient for people to access the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The services, in Gwent, Cwm Taf, West Wales and Powys, will be delivered in the community by optometrists and nurses, overseen by an ophthalmologist.

As part of their integrated medium-term plan submissions, health boards will be submitting profiles for improvements in ophthalmology and progress will be monitored by officials through the regular performance management framework.

 

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Minister made a statement on the financial support of those infected with NHS blood products following the Archer inquiry? (WAQ70077)

Answer received on 30 March 2016

Mark Drakeford:

The Department of Health is currently consulting on proposals for people affected by the contaminated blood scandal, their families and dependents and other interested individuals and organisations. This is an opportunity for people Wales to have their say about how future support should be provided.


 

To ask the Minister for Public Services

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister make a statement on the progress of live-streaming council meetings in Wales since 2012, as well as how this will change under the draft Local Government (Wales) Bill? (WAQ70100)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

The Minister for Public Services (Leighton Andrews):

16 out of the 22 Local Authorities have broadcast their meetings. Brecon Beacons National Park Authority are also broadcasting their meetings.

The Draft Local Government (Wales) Bill 2016 includes a provision about the electronic broadcasts of meetings of certain local authorities. This would require principal councils to broadcast meetings and to archive those broadcasts, subject to regulations and guidance to be made by Welsh Ministers.

Welsh Ministers would also have the power to make regulations requiring fire and rescue authorities or National Park Authorities to make similar arrangements.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister provide an update on the take-up of Welsh Government funding for live-streaming of council meetings by local authorities in Wales? (WAQ70101)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews: 16 out of the 22 Local Authorities have broadcast their meetings.
 
Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister outline Welsh Government support for Welsh councils to publish audits and inspection reports to the public? (WAQ70102)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:  Under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Auditor General must report each year on how well Welsh Councils are planning for improvement in delivering their services.  These reports are published on the Wales Audit Office website.  Welsh Government does not provide any support for Councils to publish audits and inspection reports.

  

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What analysis has the Minister made with regard to the roles of council leaders and chief executives under the Draft Local Government (Wales) Bill? (WAQ70103)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

The proposals in the Draft Local Government (Wales) Bill and the accompanying consultation paper have been the subject of extensive consultation, the results of which are being considered and will be for further consideration by the next Welsh Government.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister make a statement about the level of co-options to community councils in Wales in the 2012 elections? (WAQ70104)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews: According to an exercise conducted by the Local Government and Boundary Commission for Wales, there were just over 8,000 community and town council seats to be filled at the 2012 elections. The Commission found there were more than 900 seats left vacant after the elections. This means that approximately 88% of seats were filled by election, either uncontested or filled by public poll. Many of the vacant seats would have subsequently been filled by co-option, although the Commission does not hold data on this.

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What analysis has the Welsh Government made about the role of co-options in democratic representation to date? (WAQ70105)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

Principal councils are obliged to co-opt lay members onto three committees: the standards committee, the audit committee and the scrutiny committee dealing with school education. In these cases, the lay members are full members of the committees with voting rights. Principal councils also have power to co-opt non-voting lay members onto scrutiny committees.

There is no evidence to suggest that there are any difficulties associated with co-options and there are proposals in the Draft Local Government (Wales) Bill 2016 which would allow councils to permit wider voting rights to co-opted scrutiny members.

There are also large numbers of co-opted members on community councils. It reflects the number of vacancies due to insufficient candidates at elections and the power to co-opt in these circumstances. This is an issue for concern and is one of the reasons why the Draft Bill and associated consultation paper include proposals to review our community council structure.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister outline the support the Welsh Government has provided to local authorities and community councils since 2012 to encourage wider participation and representation in local elections? (WAQ70106)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

The Welsh Government Diversity in Democracy project works closely with local authorities and community councils through One Voice Wales to provide a mentoring programme for people from under-represented groups to shadow councillors.   A project steering group, which includes local authority Heads of Democratic Services and One Voice Wales has worked in partnership to develop and support the mentoring programme, along with publicity to raise awareness of opportunities in local government.

The project has provided effective mentoring training for councillors along with the opportunity for people from under-represented groups to attend training in leadership, personal development and social media skills.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What support has the Welsh Government provided since 2011 to encourage diversity in both local authority and community council elections? (WAQ70107)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

46 people from under-represented groups have accessed the Diversity in Democracy mentoring programme giving them the opportunity to shadow councillors, council officers and attend leadership and development training.

The publicity campaign has targeted equality networks across Wales and as a result the mentoring programme has attracted a wide range of participants with protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010. 

Employers from the public, private and third sectors in Wales are also being encouraged to allow their staff access to local question time events with councillors and to promote participation in local government via their intranet and newsletters.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What provisions have the Welsh Government made to support wider youth engagement in local elections? (WAQ70108)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews: The Electoral Commission is responsible for promoting public awareness of all elections and referenda.

I have funded NUS Wales to run a project in conjunction with the Democracy Club to produce a website in time for the May elections which will enable students and others to find the polling station at which they are registered. The website, 'Where Do I Vote' was launched last week on the 17 March. 

The website is dependent on data being supplied by all Electoral Registration Officers.  I have written to all of them asking them to support this project.  This is an on-going project, and it is not too late for EROs to submit data.

Link here

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What consideration has the Welsh Government given to increase representation in both local authority and community council elections by young adults? (WAQ70109)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

Member Champions of the Diversity in Democracy project have presented to youth councils, colleges and used social media to encourage young people to participate in our mentoring programme. Out of 46 mentors, 18 young people are currently being mentored by councillors across local authorities in Wales.  Young councillors have acted as role models at various diversity events and taken part in the development of video clips to enhance the publicity campaign.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What assessment has the Minister made of the low electoral turnout for the Welsh local authority elections in 2012? (WAQ70110)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews: The Electoral Commission is responsible for promoting  public awareness of all elections and referenda.  As part of its report on the 2012 local government elections it undertook public opinion research on why people did or did not vote.

A copy of the report can be found at: 

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/149634/Local-elections-in-Wales-2012.pdf

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister make a statement on the number of excluded items considered in local authority Cabinet meetings during 2014-15 and 2015-16? (WAQ70111)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 provides for certain matters to be discussed in private, meaning that members of the public and the media are excluded. In the main, these are contractual matters and issues concerning named individuals.

The exemption applies to all council meetings, including those of its executive. The Welsh Government does not collect data on the number of times these provisions are invoked by local authorities.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What considerations has the Welsh Government made under the draft Local Government (Wales) Bill to introducing ratios of county councillor-to-constituent representation following council mergers? (WAQ70112)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:  I consulted on draft directions to the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission to Wales last autumn under provisions in the Local Government (Wales) Act 2015.

The draft directions included a proposed councillor to elector ratio of 1:4000.  The decision on the councillor to elector ratio to be included in the final directions to the Commission will be a matter for the new Welsh Government. 

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister make a statement on the importance of public engagement by local authorities? (WAQ70114)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

The Draft Local Government (Wales) Bill introduces a duty for the first time on local government to encourage the public to have their say on policies developed by councils and the decisions they lead to.  It is right that local people, local businesses, delivery partners and the workforce have a say in how public money is spent. 

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister outline what Welsh Government support is available to local authorities for the promotion of elector engagement within the democratic process? (WAQ70115)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:  The Electoral Commission is responsible for promoting public awareness of all elections and referenda.

I have provided funding to every Electoral Registration Officer in every local authority towards the costs of sending out a Household Notification Letter which shows who is registered to vote at that particular address.  It prompts those who have not yet registered to do so and gives residents an opportunity to check their details on the register are accurate

I have also funded NUS Wales to run a project in conjunction with the Democracy Club to produce a website in time for the May elections which will enable students and others to find the polling station at which they are registered. The website, 'Where Do I Vote' was launched last week on the 17 March. 

The website is dependent on data being supplied by all Electoral Registration Officers.  I have written to all of them asking them to support this project.  This is an on-going project, and it is not too late for EROs to submit data.

Link here

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of Welsh businesses who have been awarded contracts by local authorities for the years 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16? (WAQ70118)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:  We do not hold this information.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister provide a detailed breakdown of administrative costs of distributing hypothecated grants to local authorities in the years 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15? (WAQ70120)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews: The administration cost of distributing hypothecated grants has not been collected centrally by the Welsh Government.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister provide a statement on the current costs of council redundancies? (WAQ70121)

Answer received on 23 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:  This is a matter for each individual Authority. We do not hold this information.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What support is the Welsh Government considering providing to local authorities to cover the projected costs of redundancies and early retirement under planned council mergers? (WAQ70122)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

Local Authorities possess a range of financial flexibilities which will enable them to minimise the costs and maximise the benefits of reform.  A number of reports, including from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), and the draft Regulatory Impact Assessment for the draft Local Government (Wales) Bill agree that Local Government reform in Wales will deliver significant savings in the medium term which will outweigh the initial costs. 

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Minister make a statement on the Welsh Audit Office's role in assessing local authorities under the draft Local Government (Wales) Bill? (WAQ70123)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews: The Wales Audit Office will have no specific role in assessing Local Authorities under the draft Local Government (Wales) Bill. Instead they will be tasked with contributing to a 'combined assessment' where we propose the main audit, inspection and regulation bodies come together to share existing information and intelligence from existing work to identify emerging themes in order to support the Local Authority to address issues before they become significant problems.

 

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): What assessments have been made by the Minister to ensure that provisions of the draft Local Government (Wales) Bill are within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales? (WAQ70124)

Answer received on 22 March 2016

Leighton Andrews:

Full consideration of the National Assembly for Wales' legislative competence is an integral part of the policy development and drafting process for all Government Bills.  The Minister in charge, on or before introduction, is required to make a declaration that in his or her view the provisions of the Local Government (Wales) Bill would be within the Assembly's legislative competence.

 

 Mark Isherwood (North Wales): Will the Minister provide a breakdown of smoke-related injuries and deaths in Wales in social and private sector housing since 2011? (WAQ70094)

Answer to follow.

 

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