Senedd Backs Lightweight “Prosperity for All” Strategy

(Title Image: Sustrans Cymru)

The Issue

Last week, the Welsh Government published their four/five-year “prosperity strategy” (Prosperity for All) which was supposed to lay out line-by-line what the Welsh Government were going to do to deliver their government programme until 2021. It was trailed as an economic strategy and included some….odd….lines and was also lacking in detail.

On Wednesday (27th September), opposition AMs – having had the chance to look at the document in more detail – took the opportunity to scrutinise its contents – though no AM raised the “Be Better Than Robots” bit.

The Motion

The Senedd:

  • Notes the Welsh Government’s national strategy, Prosperity for All.
  • Regrets the lack of detail and specific targets for the Fifth Assembly.
  • Calls on the Welsh Government to outline specific and measurable targets for it to achieve by 2021 relating to the economy, education system and health service.

Key Points

Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central)
For (the motion): Labour’s poor economic, education & health performance

  • After 18 years of Labour rule, Wales accounts for 5% of the UK’s population but only produces 3% of its economic output.
  • 20 years ago, Scottish and Welsh workers had identical take-home pay, now Scots are £43 a week better off on average.
  • Prosperity for All doesn’t address real challenges, like automation.
  • There’s nothing in the paper on how the Welsh Government will monitor improvements to health.
  • We cannot persist with lack of progress in education performance when compared internationally; little progress has been made despite the promise of “bold reforms” for many years.

Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr)
For: We need an economic strategy

  • “Deeply frustrated” at the lack of an economic strategy; we’ve been promised it at several points over the last year and it hasn’t materialised.
  • We need to shift the emphasis on economic performance back to supporting indigenous businesses and growth from within; there’s an obsession with foreign investment.

Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West)
For: No clear targets, particularly in health.

  • Welcomes the ambition, but without clear outcomes or targets it’s useless.
  • There’s too much variation in delivery of health & social care services from area to area.

Paul Davies AM (Con, Preseli Pembs.)
For: “Spread the wealth”

  • All parts of Wales need to benefit from growth and investment (i.e. A40 dualling).
  • The paper doesn’t address rural health services as services move further away from patients.

Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East)
For: It’s just another relaunch

  • Labour is “tired and directionless”; the paper is another relaunch.
  • Not enough is being done to address skills gaps and retain teachers.

Welsh Government Response

First Minister, Carwyn Jones (Lab, Bridgend)

  • There will be more detail “in due course”.
  • The Welsh budget has been cut by more than £1billion; nothing’s been said by the Conservatives on that or the £1.7billion “bung” to Northern Ireland.
  • Tories have a “brass neck” to talk about infrastructure when they cancelled Cardiff-Swansea rail electrification and made little progress on the Swansea tidal lagoon.
  • Welsh unemployment is now routinely at or below the UK average.
  • Diagnostic waiting times and ambulance response times have improved.
  • Not one positive idea has been put forward by the opposition on how they would do things differently.