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Welsh Government News-in-Brief

Created on 16/02/2018 @ 17:03
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A round-up of the news coming out of the Senedd in Cardiff this week.

Taskforce members discuss better transport links for the Valleys

The Valleys Taskforce met in Caerphilly this week to discuss how work to improve transport links across South Wales could also deliver many of the group’s priorities.

Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services, Alun Davies, who chairs the taskforce, said: “This meeting was a great opportunity to discuss with taskforce members the actions we are taking to improve infrastructure in the area, not only through the South Wales Metro project, but also from our wider actions on public transport which will in turn improve the economic growth for the Valleys region.”

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, who is a member of the taskforce said: “We will soon have rail franchising powers, so that we can, for the first time, specify and let Wales and Borders rail services. We are also securing the transfer of the Valley Lines north of Cardiff Queen Street, where we can separate operation from the South Wales Main Line, enabling us to deliver the next phase of the South Wales Metro.”

Minister celebrates 5,000 opportunities created by Lift

The success of the Welsh Government’s Lift programme, which has exceeded its target of providing 5000 training and employment opportunities, was marked by Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan.

The Minister attended a special event at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale, where she met some of those helped by the programme and their mentors.

The Minister said: “I am delighted that Lift has exceeded its target of supporting 5,000 people into job and training opportunities. As I have seen today, the programme has had an incredibly positive impact on people’s lives, giving them the confidence, skills, experience and information they need to succeed.”

First Minister meets the Taoiseach to discuss trade post-Brexit

Wales and Ireland need to work together to overcome post-Brexit trade challenges – that was the message from First Minister Carwyn Jones as he met with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in Dublin on Monday.

The First Minister said: “There must be a level playing field between Britain and Ireland. I don’t want to see a hard border on the island of Ireland but neither do I want to see customs posts at Welsh ports.

“That is why the best option is for the whole UK to have continued participation in the Single Market and membership of a customs union. This removes this problem entirely. It is also in the best interests of the Welsh and the Irish economies and, indeed, the economies of the whole of the UK. And, as we have been clear, leaving the EU must not affect the arrangements for the Common Travel Area.”

£8m EU-backed boost to roll out initiative to drive ground breaking research to support the manufacturing industry

Welsh manufacturing businesses will benefit from an extra £8m to extend a scheme to help them access world-class expertise to develop cutting-edge new products and services, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has said.

Professor Drakeford said: “Investing in our manufacturing sector to drive innovation and develop pioneering technologies and products will lead to increased competitiveness within the industry and new employment opportunities.”

New Plan to transform dementia care in Wales

Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, has launched a new innovative action plan to ensure people with dementia can live as independently as possible in their communities.

He said: “I have a clear vision for Wales to be a dementia friendly nation that recognises the rights of people with dementia to feel valued and live as independently as possible in their communities. This plan, developed with those who have lived with dementia and supported by an extra £10m a year, will accelerate achieving that vision.”

Anthem, Music Fund Wales

The Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales have announced plans for a unique musical fund that will help open up new opportunities for children and young people.

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams said: “I want all our young people, whatever their background or ability, to enjoy music and to be able to develop their talents and skills. Anthem – Music Fund Wales, established with £1 million from the Welsh Government, is a ground-breaking initiative that will not only increase access to musical experiences but also enhance existing music services.”

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport Lord Elis-Thomas AM, added: “I am proud of the way the Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales have worked together in order to make Anthem a reality but in order to build the Fund we will need to work in partnership with the music industry across the UK.”

Additional £10m for social services in Wales to deal with winter pressures

An additional £10m is being made available to local authorities in Wales to enable social services to support people in their homes and communities, Health and Social Services Secretary Vaughan Gething has announced.

Health and Social Services Secretary, Vaughan Gething said: “Social care plays a huge part in delivering care as close to home as possible. I realise it has been under considerable pressure over recent months. In recognition of the demand being experienced, I have decided to provide an additional £10m to Local Authorities to enable social services to support people in their homes and communities.”

Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies added: “Our health and social care services are heavily dependent on each other. So I’m really pleased we have been able to put this extra £10m investment into our social services, so that local government can continue providing high quality social services to people across Wales.” 

100% rates relief for community hydro projects

Community hydro-projects with a rateable value of up to £50,000 will receive a 100% rates relief under a new grant scheme announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths.

Lesley Griffiths said: “I am very pleased to announce a new generous grant scheme of support for hydro power projects. 

“Our new scheme will provide 100% rate relief for community schemes and provide support for other small-scale projects towards their non-domestic rates. Crucially, it will provide greater support to hydro-power developers in Wales than is available elsewhere in the UK.”

Vacant land tax idea to be used to test Wales Act powers

The Welsh Government will put forward the vacant land tax idea to test the Wales Act 2014 powers, Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mark Drakeford has said.

Professor Drakeford said: “Housing is a priority for the Welsh Government. A tax on vacant land could prevent the practice of land banking and land not being developed within the expected timescales.

“The Republic of Ireland vacant sites levy provides a useful starting point for how a vacant land tax could work in Wales.”

We love free Wi-Fi on all Arriva Trains Wales routes

Passengers across Wales can now benefit from free Wi-Fi on all Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) services thanks to Welsh Government funding.

Economy and Transport Secretary Ken Skates said: “This rollout should be a real boon to commuters and business users alike. I expect it to make a real contribution to our ambitions for a growing economy with strong businesses in productive regions set out our Prosperity for All Economic Action Plan.”

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