The First Minister has set out his government’s five year plan to deliver more and better jobs, improve and reform public services, and build a united, connected and sustainable Wales.
The First Minister said the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, Taking Wales Forward, makes clear that the government’s relentless focus will be on driving improvement in the Welsh economy and public services, delivering a Wales which is prosperous and secure, healthy and active, ambitious and learning, united and connected.
The First Minister also confirmed that the Welsh Government’s key pledges have been maintained despite the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, including the commitment to create at least 100,000 all-age apprenticeships and the development of the South Wales Metro.
First Minister, Carwyn Jones said:
“My vision of government is simple - enabling people to live healthy and fulfilled lives and make the most of every opportunity, and supporting them when help is needed most.
“A critical 5 years lie ahead. The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union creates some uncertainty and challenges, but our mandate is clear. The Welsh Government’s relentless focus will be on driving improvement in our economy and public services, which are together the bedrock of people’s daily lives.
“Taking Wales Forward outlines our key priorities for delivering those improvements. They are ambitious measures, aimed at making a difference for everyone, at every stage in their lives.
“Together we can build a Wales that is more confident, more equal, better skilled and more resilient. As a country we have punched above our weight, and now we are ready to do more.
“I want to see a Wales which is prosperous and secure, healthy and active, ambitious and learning, united and connected. This is the Wales we are determined to build over the coming 5 years.”
Among the Welsh Government’s key commitments are:
Prosperous and Secure:
- Driving forward inward investment, innovation and the creation of new jobs by providing more support for businesses, including delivering a tax cut, meaning smaller bills for 70,000 businesses and reducing business rates bills to zero for half of all eligible firms
- Removing barriers to employment by creating the most generous childcare offer anywhere in the UK, providing 30 hours free childcare a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, 48 weeks of the year
- Ensuring prosperity for all by creating a minimum 100,000 high quality, all age apprenticeships, reshape employability support for people to find and get back into work and deliver the Cardiff City Region Deal, develop a similar deal for Swansea and a Growth Deal for North Wales
- Deliver an extra 20,000 affordable homes, including 6,000 homes through the Help to Buy scheme
- Successful, sustainable rural communities: Work with partners to secure a prosperous future for Welsh agriculture
- Environment: Make progress towards our goal of reducing our greenhouse emissions by at least 80% by 2050, invest in the skills required for the green economy, promote green growth and innovation and continue to invest in flood defence work and take further action to better manage water in our environment
Healthy and Active:
- Improving our healthcare services: continuing to improve access to GP surgeries, making it easier to get an appointment, as well as Increase investment in facilities to reduce waiting times and exploit digital technologies to help speed up the diagnosis of illness
- Introducing a new treatment fund to give people in Wales fast access to new and innovative treatments and work to end the post-code lottery for drugs and treatments not routinely available on the NHS
- Investing in our healthcare staff by taking action to attract and train more GPs, nurses and other health professionals across Wales and ensure more nurses, in more settings, through an extended nurse staffing levels law
- Prioritise mental health treatment, support, prevention and de-escalation, and increase access to talking therapies.
- Care and older people: More than double the capital people can keep when entering residential care to £50,000.
Ambitious and Learning:
- Invest an additional £100 million to drive up school standards over the next term, continue to develop a new curriculum and invest nearly £2 billion in new and refurbished schools, community schools and college buildings by 2024
- Examine ways of ensuring looked after children enjoy the same life chances as other children and if necessary reform the way they are looked after
- Further and higher education: Offer a package of student support that is better than that offered in England, based on the recommendations of the Diamond Review.
United and Connected:
- Transport: Deliver an M4 relief road in south east Wales, and improvements to the A55 in north Wales, the A40 in west Wales and other trunk roads; create a South Wales Metro and advance the development of a North Wales Metro system; develop a new, not-for-profit, rail franchise and deliver a more effective network of bus services once powers have been devolved
- Ensuring a fairer society by repealing sections of the UK government’s Trades Union legislation in devolved areas and take further action on the living wage, limit the use of zero hours contracts and tackle other rogue and bad practices
- Bring people together digitally by offering fast reliable broadband to every property in Wales
- Work with local government to review council tax to make it fairer so that people with low and moderately valued properties pay less than they do now, and to provide funding to put in place a floor for future local government settlements
- Continue to invest in encouraging more people to use and speak Welsh in their everyday lives and work towards one million people speaking the language by 2050.