A report provided interim findings from the evaluation of Jobs Growth Wales, which aimed to provide employment opportunities for unemployed and job-ready young people aged 16 to 24 who had experienced difficulty in securing employment. The scheme provided participants with a job opportunity for a six month period paid at, or above, the national minimum wage, or a £6,000 bursary to support them to start their own business. The evaluation examined the effectiveness of programme processes, measured the net impact of the programme, and assessed its value for money. A second report, published alongside, examined the characteristics and destinations of young people who left their JGW jobs early, and the circumstances that had led to the early exit.
Source: Ipsos MORI, Wavehill Consulting, and WISERD, Jobs Growth Wales: Interim evaluation report, Research Report 79/2014, Welsh Government
Source: Ipsos MORI, Evaluation of Jobs Growth Wales: Early leavers report, Research Report 80/2014, Welsh Government
A think-tank report examined the concerns raised by business leaders and regional politicians regarding the possible implications if the United Kingdom left the European Union. Concerns raised included: the loss of access to European Union markets; the effects of disruption and uncertainty during the exit phase; loss of access to funding and subsidies, particularly for sectors such as agriculture, fishing, engineering, and the Welsh regions; the potential loss of influence over trade deals and future regulations; and the implications for accessing labour markets and, in particular, the potential loss of rapid access to skilled migrants. The report said that the government would need to plan for such impacts ahead of any exit, and made recommendations.
Source: Jonathan Lindsell, Softening the Blow: Who gains from the EU and how they can survive Brexit, Civitas
A report said that Wales was affected at above average levels by welfare reform and that, within the Valleys, there were some communities where the average financial loss from the reform was estimated to be £1,000 a year per adult of working age. Overall, the report estimated that welfare reform would remove almost four times as much, per year, from the Welsh economy as was received in European Union funding for regional development. The report said that policy aimed at economic growth and job generation had the potential to deliver financial savings, and pointed to Jobs Growth Wales (which provided job opportunities for unemployed 16-24 year olds for a six month period, paid at or above the national minimum wage) as a good example of what could be achieved.
Source: Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill, The Impact of Welfare Reform on the Valleys, Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (Sheffield Hallam University)
The Wales Bill was given a third reading. The Bill was designed to make changes to the provisions for elections to, and membership of, the National Assembly for Wales; to provide for a referendum on whether the Assembly would assume control of an element of income tax and set a tax rate for Welsh taxpayers; to devolve stamp duty land tax and landfill tax to the Assembly and allow other taxes to be devolved by later mutual agreement; and to give borrowing powers to the Welsh Ministers to fund capital expenditure, and extend the provisions for short-term borrowing.
Source: Wales Bill, Wales Office, TSO | Debate 24 June 2014, columns 222-289, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
An audit report in Wales said that scrutiny of decision making in local councils was improving, and there was clear enthusiasm to learn and to improve their approach. However, it said they found it difficult to demonstrate the impact of scrutiny, and council scrutiny was not always fully aligned with other council improvement processes such as external audit, inspection, and review. It said that scrutiny could be improved by better planning, more effective chairing, improvements to the range, quality, and use of information, and more effective engagement with the public and partners.
Source: Good Scrutiny? Good Question! Auditor General for Wales Improvement Study: Scrutiny in local government, Wales Audit Office
The Wales Bill was published. The Bill was designed to make changes to the provisions for elections to, and membership of, the National Assembly for Wales; to provide for a referendum on whether the Assembly would assume control of an element of income tax and set a tax rate for Welsh taxpayers; to devolve stamp duty land tax and landfill tax to the Assembly and allow other taxes to be devolved by later mutual agreement; and to give borrowing powers to the Welsh Ministers to fund capital expenditure, and extend the provisions for short-term borrowing.
Source: Wales Bill, Wales Office, TSO
The Welsh Government began consultation on proposals to develop and implement co-investment in adult skills training by government, employers and, in some cases, individuals. The consultation would close on 16 May 2014.
Source: Balancing the Responsibilities for Skills Investment: Proposals for co-investment in post-19 adult skills delivery, Consultation WG21187, Welsh Government
Links: Consultation document
The Welsh government began consultation on the recommendations from a report that examined how the use of the Welsh language and bilingualism could support business growth and economic development and how economic development could support increased use of the Welsh language. The report made 27 recommendations for business and/or government, on which the consultation sought views. The consultation would close on 16 April 2014.
Source: Report of the Welsh Language and Economic Development Task and Finish Group to the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Welsh Government
A report evaluated the European Social Fund peer mentoring Wales project, which aimed to assist ex-substance misusers to enter employment or further learning. The report said that peer mentoring worked well and that evidence suggested that the work was better led by substance misuse experts than employment experts. It said the providers achieved almost all of the four-year targets set for the project (which had been revised downwards in 2010 in the light of changed circumstances such as the economic recession and the advent of the Work Programme), even when working with clients who were still using substances and/or prone to relapse. The report said that ten per cent of clients had entered employment, nine per cent had entered further learning, 14 per cent had gained a qualification, and 65 per cent had achieved at least one 'other positive outcome', such as completing a course or volunteering. The report made recommendations, including for the continuation of peer mentoring support provision.
Source: Mike Maguire, Katy Holloway, and Trevor Bennett, Evaluation of European Social Fund Peer Mentoring Wales, Welsh Government
The government responded to a report by a committee of MPs on the Work Programme in Wales.
Source: The Work Programme in Wales: Government response to the Committeeï¿½s Third Report of Session 2013ï¿½14, Fifth Special Report (Session 201314), HC 1035, House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, TSO
The Welsh Government published a policy statement on skills, to inform future action in relation to post-19 skills and employment policy.
Source: Policy Statement on Skills, Welsh Government
The Williams Commission published its report on the governance and delivery of public services in Wales. The Commission had been asked to examine all aspects of public services in Wales and make recommendations on their future direction. The report made over 60 recommendations, including: to remove duplication and ensure that organizations worked together effectively, with shared services and greater collaboration; to reduce the number of local authorities; to strengthen governance and scrutiny; greater citizen and community involvement in design and delivery of services; and to strengthen leadership.
Source: Full Report, Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery
A report by the audit office for Wales examined the response of local councils to the financial pressures they faced following cuts in budgets and increased demand for services. The report examined the effectiveness of their financial planning, approaches to financial decision making, and actions to minimise the impact of the cuts. It noted that there were many areas of good practice, but also areas where councils needed to improve. In particular, it noted concern about: the longer term implications of the budget pressures; the lack, in some cases, of longer term planning; and use of financial planning.
Source: Meeting the Financial Challenges Facing Local Government in Wales, Wales Audit Office