(Title Image: BBC Wales)
Continuity Act repeal “postponed”
Steffan Lewis AM (Plaid, South Wales East) asked the Finance Secretary whether the Continuity Act – which was due to be repealed on October 3rd – was still on the statute books?
Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West), confirmed a delay while time is found for a vote in the chamber on whether to repeal or not – probably within the next fortnight.
Steffan wondered if the delay was due to the Scottish Supreme Court case:
“….but, surely, from the Government’s point of view, they would wish to await the outcome of the Supreme Court case between Scottish and UK Governments, because that would change the face of the devolution set up and approaches to EU withdrawal if we have one devolved administration that has a protective shield of a continuity legislation and we would have voluntarily and needlessly given ours away.”
– Steffan Lewis AM
Mark didn’t believe Wales was unprotected due to the Welsh-UK agreement, which provided an alternative. Not a single power has left Wales because of that agreement.
National Procurement Service “wasn’t a failure”
Shadow Finance Secretary, Nick Ramsay AM (Con, Monmouth), asked about the National Procurement Service (NPS) – which is due to be wound down by the Welsh Government after failing to live up to expectations. He asked the Finance Secretary what he thought the reasons behind the failure were?
The Finance Secretary didn’t believe it was a failure at all:
“I don’t accept for a moment the proposition of the question because NPS has not been a failure. Since it was introduced, the proportion of spend of Welsh public procurement spend going to Welsh-based companies has gone up from 35 to 50 per cent. Of the 22,000 contracts that have been let through Sell2Wales, two-thirds of those go to Welsh suppliers and three-quarters of those are Welsh SMEs, and that is as a result of the work that NPS has done in all parts of Wales.”
– Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford
He added that the decision was taken because the circumstances have changed; public bodies would prefer to do things regionally than at an all-Wales level. However, he admitted that if there wasn’t a case for big changes he wouldn’t have ordered a review in the first place.
Council funding decisions “not tribal”
In light of yesterday’s provisional local government revenue settlement, Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) believed cuts in funding weren’t being shared equally amongst all councils. Northern Wales authorities were hit disproportionately – four authorities (Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire) will see 1% cuts (before inflation).
She accused the Welsh Government of “tribal and lazy” favouring of Labour-run authorities and not using an additional £370million from the UK Government properly.
The Finance Secretary rejected the accusation and said funding decisions were based on a pre-agreed formula:
“….the Member really should withdraw her accusation that the funding formula for local government in Wales is somehow tribal in nature. She knows that it is not.
“Welsh Government does not set the formula. It is set on expert advice and it is agreed by local government. The reason why Conwy has found a decrease in funding this year is because it has fewer unemployed people than last year; it has fewer secondary school pupils than last year, and it has fewer primary school children claiming free school meals. There is nothing tribal about any one of those factors.”
– Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford