The Welsh Government published its draft budget for 2015-16. It included proposals for: additional funding of £225m for the Welsh National Health Service; an additional £12m to continue the Schools Challenge Cymru; an increase in the pupil deprivation grant and extension of funding to nursery aged children; protected funding for Flying Start; expansion of the Affordable Housing Land Scheme, Houses into Homes Scheme, Home Improvement Loans, and the Town Centre Loans Scheme; and £40m for transport infrastructure to enable earlier delivery of key projects.
Source: Welsh Government Draft Budget 2015-2016: Priorities for Wales, WG23071, Welsh Government
The Welsh Government began consultation on the future of local government in Wales. The white paper included a response to the local government aspects of the report of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery which, inter alia, had recommended the merger of some local authorities, raised issues regarding the scrutiny and governance of fire and rescue authorities, and recommended boundary changes. A further paper was published alongside the consultation that provided a deeper response to the reports from the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery and the Silk Commission (on devolution in Wales), and discussed the future of the devolution settlement in Wales. The consultation would close on 1 October 2014.
Source: Reforming Local Government, Welsh Government
A report provided the response of the Welsh Government to the reports from the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery and the Silk Commission (on devolution in Wales), and discussed the future of the devolution settlement in Wales. The report was published alongside a consultation on the future of local government.
Source: Improving Public Services for People in Wales, Welsh Government
A report by a committee of the National Assembly for Wales examined budgetary best practice and its applicability to Wales. It also considered the additional proposed devolved powers contained in the Wales Bill, which was currently progressing through the United Kingdom parliament.
Source: Budgetary Best Practice and its Applicability to Wales, Finance Committee, National Assembly for Wales
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
A report provided the interim findings from year one of a three year evaluation (2012-2015) of the European Social Fund Local Service Board Development and Priority Delivery Project, which aimed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public services in Wales through more effective collaborative working and by building the capacity of public services to deliver higher quality services.
Source: Valeria Guarneros-Meza, James Downe, Max Munday, Steve Martin, Lorna Adams, Katie Spreadbury, Erica Garnett, Carol Hayden, and John Houghton, Evaluation of the ESF Local Service Board Development and Priority Delivery Project: Interim report, Research Paper 58/2014, Welsh Government
A report evaluated the Invest to Save Fund, a Welsh Government initiative that provided financial support to public service organizations for strategic improvement projects. It said that the fund was making substantive progress towards delivery against its overarching aims and objectives, had supported good projects, and had delivered a wide range of benefits, including savings. It noted areas for development, including performance monitoring. The report made a range of recommendations, including that the fund should be continued, with a review of its overall intent and a more developmental focus.
Source: Simon Pringle, Joe Duggett, Chris Wilkinson, and Geoff White, An Independent Evaluation of the Invest to Save Fund: Final report, Research Paper 40/2014, Welsh Government
A report provided the findings from a review of the powers of the National Assembly for Wales. It said that the existing arrangements for the devolved assembly were overly complex; that there was a need for governments and institutions to work together better; and that there was broad support for further devolved powers. It recommended moving to a reserved powers model that established which powers remained with the United Kingdom central government, rather than those that were devolved. It also recommended the devolution of further powers, including: most aspects of policing; the youth justice system immediately, followed by a feasibility study for the devolution of prisons and probation; and changes in powers related to energy, water, transport, and television funding and governance. It also made recommendations to improve scrutiny and performance within the National Assembly, and to enhance the working relationship between the Assembly and the United Kingdom government.
Source: Empowerment and Responsibility: Legislative powers to strengthen Wales, Commission on Devolution in Wales
A report by a committee of peers said that national parliaments could and should contribute actively to the functioning of the European Union. The report highlighted five areas where effectiveness could be improved: in their scrutiny of their own activities on European Union matters; in dialogue between the national and EU level; in scrutinizing EU legislation (the 'reasoned opinion' procedure); in inter-parliamentary co-operation; and in economic and financial governance.
Source: The Role of National Parliaments in the European Union, Ninth Report (Session 201314), HL 151, House of Lords European Union Select Committee, TSO
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
A think-tank report examined whether there was a case for transferring further powers regarding welfare benefits to the devolved assemblies of the United Kingdom. It said that devolution of some aspects of welfare would require greater fiscal devolution, but could enable more joined-up policy approaches, reflect local circumstance, and improve social and economic outcomes in the devolved nations. The report suggested devolving housing benefit, the work programme, and responsibility for childcare, with levels of benefits set by the UK government as a minimum level, capable of supplement by the devolved governments.
Source: Guy Lodge and Alan Trench, Devo More and Welfare: Devolving benefits and policy for a stronger union, Institute for Public Policy Research
An article examined how citizenship was enacted by children. Drawing on a study of children aged 5-13 in Wales and France, it discussed their acts and actions of citizenship. It said that recognizing aspects of children's practices as citizenship represented a challenge to dominant definitions and could widen understandings of children's participation and agency.
Source: Cath Larkins, 'Enacting children's citizenship: developing understandings of how children enact themselves as citizens through actions and acts of citizenship', Childhood, Volume 21 Number 1
An article examined the notion of assemblage in the Welsh Government's approach to the management of local government policy. It said that there was evidence of important tensions in the Welsh approach: although the emphasis on the citizen had worked in building a 'political rationality', it worked less well as a 'government technology'.
Source: Valeria Guarneros-Meza, James Downe, Tom Entwistle, and Steve Martin, 'Putting the citizen at the centre? Assembling local government policy in Wales', Local Government Studies, Volume 40 Issue 1
A report by a committee of MPs provided pre-legislative scrutiny for the draft Wales Bill. The Bill would: enable the Welsh Assembly to legislate on devolved taxation and provide for a referendum in Wales on whether an element of income tax should be devolved; allow the Assembly to set a Welsh rate of income tax; extend, and create new, borrowing powers; extend Assembly terms to five years; and amend rules governing candidates in Assembly elections and Welsh Assembly members.
Source: Pre-legislative Scrutiny of the Draft Wales Bill, Fourth Report (Session 201314), HC 962, House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, TSO
A report examined existing evidence on community and town councils in Wales, with the aim of developing an up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of the sector. It noted a range of strengths and weaknesses, and said that while much work had been done on strengthening the structural and legislative framework, there were a number of barriers to further progress. The review was intended to inform future policy development, as well as the work of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery.
Source: Michael Woods, Developing a Comprehensive Understanding of Community and Town Councils in Wales: Evidence review for the Welsh government, Social research report 6/14, Welsh Government