Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
On the 17 June, together with the Minister for Social Services and Public Health, I represented the Welsh Government at the twenty-sixth Summit of the British-Irish Council (BIC) in Glasgow. The Summit was chaired by First Minister Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, of the Scottish Government. The Summit was attended by lead Ministers from the other BIC Member Administrations including;
- An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny TD, of the Irish Government
- Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon David Mundell MP, of the UK Government,
- Northern Ireland Executive First Minister, Mrs Arlene Foster MLA, and the deputy First Minister, Mr Martin McGuinness MLA,
- Isle of Man’s Chief Minister, Hon. Allan Bell MHK,
- Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, of the Government of Jersey,
- Chief Minister, Deputy Gavin St Pier of the Government of the Guernsey.
The British-Irish Council Summit is an important opportunity for Member Administrations to collaborate and share good practice on the common issues we face. This Summit provided an opportunity for Member Administrations to consider the priorities of BIC Members and the support of carers across all Member administrations.
This year’s summit was deeply affected by the tragic events in Birstall the day before; the Council paid their respects to Jo Cox and observed a minute’s silence.
The summit opened with a Ministerial meeting of the BIC Social Inclusion work sector. The Minister for Social Services and Public Health represented Wales and reported back to the summit meeting. The Minister highlighted the growing number of carers in Wales, which is expected to double in the next 15 years, and the importance of supporting them in their role. Noting that the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act came into force in April and was an important step in providing that support by giving carers the same rights as those they care for. The Minister explained how the Act will support local authorities to deliver their new responsibilities towards carers, assessing their needs, supporting them and giving them a voice. The Minister also highlighted the important role that employers have in identifying and supporting carers and that they in turn need to be supported.
The Minister supported the Council’s proposals to focus on; young carers, those who care for the growing population of older people, the identification of carers and ways in which new technologies can help carers.
During the discussion on the priorities of Council members I discussed the forthcoming referendum with members of the Council. I also highlighted some of the areas that I would be focusing on during this Assembly such as growing our economy and raising school standards.
I shared our plans to extend free childcare to 30 hours a week for working parents of 3-4 year olds. Giving children the best start in life while also supporting parents in the labour market and galvanising our economy. This aim will be further supported by our commitment to deliver 100,000 all-age apprenticeships so that people in work can achieve more, those out of work can find jobs and the economy of Wales as a whole can grow stronger.
The key discussion points of the twenty-sixth Summit were published in a joint Communiqué.