Senedd costs kept under control despite concerns over Youth Parliament and staff absence

(Title Image: National Assembly of Wales)

Finance Committee
Assembly Commission’s draft budget 2019-20 (pdf)
Published: 23rd October 2018

“The Assembly Commission has made improvements in its budgeting since the Finance Committee reported a year ago and we welcome the open and transparent approach in working with the Committee.

 

“We are content to approve the budget for the next financial year but would like to see more detail on important projects including the Assembly reform programme and Welsh Youth Parliament.”

– Temporary Committee Chair, Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales)

The Assembly Commission is the body responsible for running the Assembly itself and providing services to AMs. A summary of the draft budget is available here.

1. The costs of running the Senedd are being kept under control

The budget for the Commission is increasing by 1.67% for 2019-20 – which meets the recommendation set down by the Committee last year that increases to the Assembly’s running costs should match any changes to the Welsh block grant. This has also been forecast in for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 budgets.

However, if there are significant reforms to the Senedd – such as an increase in members or its powers – then that will have to be factored in, which goes without saying.

2. The costings for the Welsh Youth Parliament are “confusing”

The election process to the Welsh Youth Parliament is currently underway. The first election is due to be held through November 2018.

The Commission has budgeted £100,000 for the first year and £50,000 towards it for the subsequent years, but there was confusion over how the figures were calculated as there was no individual breakdown of specific costs (i.e. promotion, awareness, travel costs).

3. There are concerns about increased absence rates amongst Assembly staff

There was a spike in absences amongst Commission staff, particularly during August 2017 – which was blamed on a number of long-term illnesses and hospital procedures either coalescing or taking place during that time.

The Chief Executive of the Assembly, Dr Manon Antoniazzi, described 2017-18 as “a turbulent year of change and uncertainty” with mental health being a reason behind many absences, believed to be as a result of Brexit pressures and a staffing capacity review. The Committee were concerned that no staff survey has taken place since May 2017 – though a fresh one is due to take place in November.

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