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What are the challenges facing Wales’s new AMs?

24/03/2016

The achievements of cross-party Assembly committees and priorities for the next generation of committees are being outlined in a series of legacy reports.

 

The four sectors covered on Thursday 17 March are health and social care, transport and enterprise, communities and local government, and constitutional affairs.

Between 2011 and 2016 Assembly committees held nearly 1500 formal meetings, questioned more than 2700 witnesses and scrutinised over 2500 different topics.

The impact of Assembly committees over that period included:

  • Driving a fundamental review of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales – Health and Social Care Committee;
  • Prompting the creation of European Funding Ambassadors – Enterprise and Business Committee; and
  • Encouraging the UK Government to reconsider the Draft Wales Bill which will devolve further powers to Wales – Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee.

Assembly committees have shone a light on a wide range of subjects, encouraging the Welsh Ministers to improve policy in areas such as:

  • Poverty – Community, Equality and Local Government Committee;
  • Youth Entrepreneurship – Enterprise and Business Committee;
  • Domestic abuse and sexual violence - Community, Equality and Local Government Committee;
  • European Funding – Enterprise and Business Committee;
  • Stillbirths – Health and Social Care Committee;
  • Adoption Services in Wales – Children, Young People and Education Committee;
  • Wider issues emanating from the governance review of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – Public Accounts Committee;
  • Future funding for Wales – Finance Committee; and
  • Sanctions for Assembly Members – Standards of Conduct Committee.

Key areas identified by committees for continued scrutiny and monitoring over the next five years include:

 

Economy and Transport (PDF 2MB):

  • Whether the Welsh Government's strategies are training people in the right skills for its economic needs;
  • How North Wales can benefit from the Northern powerhouse initiative;
  • The performance of City Regions and what levers will they be given to succeed;
  • The governance, development and progress of the Metro project;
  • Welsh Government's preparations for the next Welsh Rail Franchise; and
  • The consequences of the EU referendum on the Welsh economy.

 

Health and Social Care (PDF 5MB):

  • The performance of ambulance services;
  • Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being Wales Act 2014, the largest and most complex piece of legislation passed by this Assembly; and
  • Recruitment, retention and sustainability of the NHS workforce.

 

Communities and Equality (PDF 3MB):

  • The long-standing problems associated with home adaptation services;
  • Stronger accountability arrangements between the Assembly and the media operating in Wales;
  • Tackling poverty in Wales;
  • The impact of local government reform; and
  • The priorities of the next Welsh Government in relation to the Welsh language.

 

Constitutional and Legislative Affairs (PDF 4MB):

  • The appointment and accountability of Commissioners; and
  • The forthcoming Wales Bill and electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.   

 

Children, Young People and Education (PDF 3MB):

  • Any successor committee should ensure it monitors whether the step-change that is needed in CAMHS is being delivered;
  • Any successor Committee should monitor that progress is made in reducing regional variation in the delivery of adoption services and that, crucially, children and their families get the help they need post-adoption. It is also crucial to monitor whether all adopted children have access to quality life story work;
  • Any successor Committee should monitor work to bring forward options for the employment of supply teachers, including cluster arrangements operated by local authorities or through a national body; and
  • Any successor Committee should consider the implications of the outcome of the Diamond Review for the new system of governance within the higher education sector established by the Act. 

 

Public Accounts (PDF 1MB):

  • That the successor Committee reflects on the findings and recommendations from our inquiry on the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales in the event that future inquiries identify similar weaknesses in Welsh Government governance and administration, disposal of public assets or in the oversight of arms-length bodies;
  • That the successor Committee seeks an update from the Welsh Government in autumn 2016 on the Intra-Wales – Cardiff to Anglesey – Air Service; and
  • That the successor Committee seeks an update from the Welsh Government on the implementation of our recommendations on senior management pay.

 

Finance (PDF 4MB):

  • Following Royal Assent of the two expected Bills in relation to collection of taxes devolved to Wales, the Welsh Government should be scrutinised on the implementation of the taxes going forward;
  • Pre-legislative scrutiny of financial implications of draft bills; and
  • Financial aspects of the Wales Bill, including the costs of a reserved powers model and the impact on the block grant.

 

Standards of Conduct (PDF 687KB):

  • Guidance in relation to social media could be a useful document and recommends that the next Committee with responsibility for Standards matters undertakes a piece of work to further consider the merits of guidance in this area; and
  • That the Commissioner for Standards undertake a piece of work to produce some best practice guidance for Members involved in planning matters.

 

In a separate report, the Chairs of Assembly committees have published their own legacy report (PDF) in which they make recommendations to establish smaller committees in the next Assembly, with greater capacity to scrutinise, and with a mandate to broaden their engagement with new audiences.

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