Scrutiny of the Welsh Government Draft Budget 2018-19: Evidence Session 2

Nov 15, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business | 0 comments

Plenary 15/11/2017

11:19
Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Spoken Contribution – 11:19:18 Watch this contribution on Senedd TV

Yes. Thanks, Chair. Cabinet Secretary, to what extent have you given consideration to sustainable development impacts in your department’s planning of the draft budget proposals?

Reg Kilpatrick

If you don’t mind, I’ll take that one. The issue, again, around the RSG and funding local government is that it’s very difficult for us to undertake a detailed, sustainable development impact on £3 billion or £4 billion of unhypothecated money. We rely on local government and local authorities—who are the organisations that receive the money, that allocate it and that spend it—to undertake those functions under a series of statutory duties. Some of our authorities are really very good at consulting with the public, with setting out their ideas, with setting out what it is they want to spend their money, or how they need to prioritise. And in doing that, each one of those organisations will need to consider the long-term sustainability of its spending plans, and consult with the public to make sure that those spending plans align properly with priorities and local needs.

Gareth Bennett AM

Gareth Bennett AM

Party: United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

Thanks. The other issue that we need to look at is local government reform, an ongoing subject, and £5 million has been allocated for 2018-19 and £6 million for the following year for activities associated with that. Is there any expansion on that that you can give at this point?

Alun Davies AM

Alun Davies AM

Title: Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Party: Welsh Labour

None whatsoever. I’ve sat through many committees discussing local government reform. I’ve actually sat on legislation committees on local government reform some years ago. Let me say this. The WLGA has been very clear in its evidence to you that the current structures that we have in place are not sustainable, and I accept that and I think the committee accepts that. The question is: where do we go from there? And that is the question that we need to answer, and the question that we’ve been trying to answer for too many years. What I would say to everybody involved in this on all sides of the political spectrum, whether they sit in here or in town halls and civic centres across Wales, is: let us put aside some of the debates that we’ve had in the past and have an honest conversation about where we want to be in the future, and conversations based on protecting our workforces, protecting our services, delivering excellence in services and enhancing and strengthening local democracy. I want to see local government stronger, not weaker, in the future. I want to see local government able to do more, not less. I want to see local government taking decisions that fundamentally change and transform the communities they serve, and that means stronger, not weaker, local government. And I hope that we can all work together on that basis.