In the Senedd
Jenny Rathbone welcomes the tapering of the Communities First programme to enable the safeguarding and enhancement of those elements which provide the glue between different programmes like Flying Start, Families First and other voluntary and public sector initiatives.
Jenny Rathbone said:
“I have no doubt that the Employability programmes will be continued through initiatives like Communities for Work, Lift, and Better Jobs Closer to Home. Similarly, support with childcare will continue through PaCE and the roll out of the Welsh Government free childcare programme for all three and four year olds in working households.”
“Tightly defined geographical boundaries have a purpose – to ensure that deliverers are actually working with the hardest to reach. They are definitely not the ones who shout loudest, so I continue to have concerns that the people with protected characteristics may fall between the cracks.”
Parents Childcare and Employment (PaCE) aims to help parents tackle childcare barriers to accessing training or job opportunities, by covering the cost of childcare while they undertake training, work experience or volunteering for skills.
The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Carl Sargeant, today set out his vision to adopt a holistic approach to tackling poverty by preserving the most effective aspects of the work Communities First has done, and intensifying the efforts to give people the tools needed to share in the nation’s prosperity.
Carl Sargeant stated:
“There were more than 3,000 responses to the engagement exercise, and the feedback demonstrated the many ways in which Communities First has benefitted individuals. It highlighted support for a new approach focussed on employment, early years, and empowerment.”
It is evident that Communities First projects have encouraged people to get involved and make a contribution in their community, particularly by using time credits in exchange for activities that improve their well-being.
Jenny Rathbone said:
“Frequent Flyers have identified and diverted people who continuously use A&E; have addictions and attachment problems including loneliness and mental illness, by providing better befriending and community support. In addition, Family Learning has enabled parents to play a more confident role in their children’s learning, after School clubs offer curriculum enrichment to pupils who cannot afford to pay for them, and Lunch Club’s for the Over 50s have been very effective at helping people cope with bereavement, as well as providing affordable hot meals, keeping them well and not needing to use health services.
Jenny Rathbone welcomes the tapering of the Communities First programme to enable the safeguarding and enhancement of those elements which provide the glue between different programmes like Flying Start, Families...Go to the post
World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th October every year, with the objective of raising awareness of mental health ussies around the world, and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.
I spoke in a debate on Wednesday in the Senedd about the importance of schools in helping resolve some of the issues that children encounter in regards to mental health problems.
Welsh Government figures state that self harm among young people has reached a five-year high, with more than 1,500 young people between 10 and 19 treated in Welsh hospitals for harming themselves. We also know that children are using self-harm as a way of trying to deal with very difficult emotional states. Often children will misinterpret events that adults would regard as trivial and unimportant, but without having the ability to discuss them properly with an adult, will become major issues in the child's mind.
I highlighted the fact that the Public Policy Institute for Wales report that was published in February focused on the fact that pupils supported by the pupil deprivation grant are at a greater risk of mental health problems than other pupils.
Roots of Empathy is a programme ran by Action for Children in Llanedeyrn Primary School in my constituency. This is a programme that looks to significantly decrease aggressive behaviour and improve empthay and recognition of needs and emotions.
At Cathays High School, we have mindfulness training and restorative practices, which have also ensured the building of emotional resilience in our young people for later life. I think that it is clear from the PPI report and other reports that it has to be a systematic, whole-school approach to emotional health, well-being and resilience. It can't just be in a single lesson; it has got to be something that has carried our across the school, and I think that then it does support children who are having unhappy times elsewhere to at least develop the emotional resilience to overcome them.
World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th October every year, with the objective of raising awareness of mental health ussies around the world, and mobilising efforts in...Go to the post
Jenny Rathbone welcomes additional support for student living costs, as is recommended in Sir Ian Diamond's review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance Arrangements.
The report emphasised the need to help poorer students, stating that 'in the twenty first century, an education system is needed that minimises the attainment gap between rich and poor and enables pathways through to the higher level skills that are the lifeblood of the kind of nation to which Wales aspires'.
Jenny said -
"The maximum grant of £5,161 for the poorest students does not even cover the rent in some Cardiff student halls. It is neither good for the student nor society if students are dropping out of university or failing to achieve the academic award that reflects their ability simply because they do not have enough to eat".
Jenny asked the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, what discussions she had had with the Department of Work and Pensions about part time students and benefits. Jenny is particularly concerned for those with young children who want to go back to university, and whether they would be eligible for part-time benefits, on the grounds that they are part-time students.
In addition, Jenny highlighted the issue concerning the privatisation of the Students Loan Company. It is worrying for students if they do not know the extent of their debt or how much it is going to increase to. Kirsty Williams assured the Chamber that the Student Loan Company would have to accommodate the new system before any decisions were made.
Cardiff Central, represented by Jenny Rathbone, has the highest number of students of any constituency across the UK.
You can watch Jenny's speech here:
You can read the final report of the Diamond Review here:
Jenny Rathbone welcomes additional support for student living costs, as is recommended in Sir Ian Diamond's review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance Arrangements. The report emphasised the...Go to the post
We have had an initial, informal, discussion and identified a number of areas that we may wish to include in our longer term programme. I would like to hear your views on this and what you would like to see being discussed.
EU funding of tackling poverty programmes
The Welsh Government has allocated £192 million from the European Social Fund (ESF) to support ESF priority 1, ‘tackling poverty through sustainable employment’ over the course of the 2014-2020 programme period. To date, £70 million of this has been allocated to specific projects. The Committee could look at ideas for the way forward for tackling poverty programmes beyond EU membership.
Half of people in Wales living in poverty are in work. Working families and young people in Wales are at greater risk of poverty now than they were a decade ago. The Committee could look at how the Welsh Government can successfully reduce and prevent in-work poverty.
Poverty and welfare reform
The Committee could consider the implications of welfare benefit changes on poverty in Wales, and the effectiveness of the Welsh Government’s response. The Committee could focus on three welfare reform measures that have had a significant impact on Wales: the introduction of the housing benefit social housing under-occupation measure; universal credit; and the replacement of disability living allowance (DLA) with the personal independence payment (PIP).
The effectiveness of Communities First
The Committee could look at what the Welsh Government’s flagship tackling poverty programme has achieved over 15 years, how it is monitored and whether it is providing value for money.
Post-legislative scrutiny of the new homelessness duties imposed by the Housing (Wales) Act 2014;
Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 changed homelessness legislation in Wales, with the focus moving to prevention. The Committee could look at the impact and effectiveness of the new legislation and whether it is delivering the promised outcomes.
The former CELG Committee undertook a short inquiry into barriers to homebuilding in 2013. In light of the most recent projections of housing need and demand, the Committee could look at the broader issues currently affecting supply across the social, private or whole sector. This could include examining initiatives to bring empty properties back into occupation. This work could tie in with the Right to Buy Bill, which is expected in the autumn term.
Local government reorganisation and reform
Following the outcome of the Assembly elections in May 2016, the Welsh Government announced its intention to revisit its proposals for local government reorganisation and reform, as set out in the Fourth Assembly. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government has indicated he will be bringing forward new proposals in the autumn term, which the Committee will wish to scrutinise.
We have had an initial, informal, discussion and identified a number of areas that we may wish to include in our longer term programme. I would like to hear your views...Go to the post
I recently spoke on the Draft Wales Bill and the missed opportunities it denies Wales to harness our natural resources.
I recently spoke on the Draft Wales Bill and the missed opportunities it denies Wales to harness our natural resources. Read more »Go to the post
With the recent Volkswagen scandal changing how we think about transport and the environment, I asked the First Minister, Carywn Jones AM, what work the Welsh government has done to assess the reduction in carbon emissions that will arise from the South Wales Metro Project.
As a member of the Environment and Sustainability committee, I am committed to living within environmental limits and acting on climate change. I want to protect healthy eco-systems and create sustainable places for people to live.
The First Minister assured me that one of the priority outcomes for the Metro is to reduce carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions. By moving to modern and electric traction methods, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced.
I wanted to know what detailed analysis the Government had done on the air quality benefits from reduced vehicle carbon emissions of each phase of the metro. The First Minister stated that in the first year of operation, electrification is estimated to deliver a reduction in carbon emissions from the rail vehicles of about 20%. In addition, 24% of carbon dioxide emissions in Cardiff is generated by road transport. The more people who shift from using cars to using rail and hybrid-buses, the more this percentage will decrease.
With the recent Volkswagen scandal changing how we think about transport and the environment, I asked the First Minister, Carywn Jones AM, what work the Welsh government has done...Go to the post
A delegation of students from Cardiff University came to meet me at the Senedd. It was wonderful to meet students from across Europe, and to show them around the spectacular Senedd building.
A delegation of students from Cardiff University came to meet me at the Senedd. It was wonderful to meet students from across Europe, and to show them around the spectacular...Go to the post
I recently asked the First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, whether the UK government will provide funds to ensure refugees in Cardiff get the health and education services they need.
I spoke in the Senedd to pay tribute to the generous response from people across Wales to pictures of thousands of refugees on the move across Europe. I said we want to give them the warmest possible welcome on arrival in the UK.
We have nothing to fear from refugees. Some of the most talented people in this country originally came as refugees after, during or before the Second World War.
Responding, the First Minister said: "Short of the declaration that the UK government will provide a sum of money to assist refugees- nothing. We don't know whether that money is to assist those already in refugee camps, in Lebanon in particular, where one in four of the population of Lebanon is in a refugee camp now.
"We saw the Prime Minister visiting these camps yesterday; he didn't make it clear. Is the money there to pay for people to stay in those camps, or is the money there, in whole or in part, to help to resettle people in the UK? The UK Government has not been swift in the response that it has offered to the crisis"
The number of refugees worldwide now exceeds 50 million for the first time since the Second World War, and the UK Government has faced criticism for not taking its fair share of refugees compared to other countries.
The main refugee reception centre in Wales is in Cardiff Central. The UK Government pays for hostel or private rented accommodation to keep a roof over asylum seekers heads, but makes no contribution to health services or schools.
I added that I hope the mental and physical health needs of destitute people fleeing war zones as well as the services needed to integrate both adults and children into our communities will be discussed at the summit on the refugee crisis called by the First Minister, and that the UK Government will now respond as generously as ordinary people have done.
I recently asked the First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, whether the UK government will provide funds to ensure refugees in Cardiff get the health and education services they need. I...Go to the post
Now that the Assembly has broken up for the summer, it’s an opportunity to look back at some of the key issues that I’ve raised in the Senedd this term.
Good Food for All
I’m passionate about good, healthy food and I have spoken on numerous of occasions about the need to include locally grown fruit and veg into our diets. Cardiff is a sustainable food City and there is some wonderful work going on to encourage more people to grow their own and make sure good food is being served in our schools and hospitals.
We have much diet-related disease across Wales, and too much of the “food” that we are sold is poisoning us on the altar of profits. We need to become a healthier nation by developing more of our own food industry. We are after all blessed with lots of agricultural land. I put it to the First Minister that he should consider a tax on fat, sugar and salt and use the money to subsidise the cost of fruit and vegetables. It would save more lives than there are people killed on the roads.
Some local authorities and schools are taking the lead on promoting healthy food, but we need more than pockets of good practice. I spoke about the Good Food for All report published by the Institute for Welsh Affairs in the Senedd. The author, Professor Kevin Morgan of Cardiff University asks us to consider three things to start delivering a Good Food Nation: first, using the Government’s buying powers to ensure that we get good food from local markets. The second is to deliver good food across the public sector, not just in nursing homes and hospitals but in our staff canteens. The third, and most important in my view, is getting Food for Life in all our schools. If Oldham can do it, why can’t Wales?
The Public Accounts Committee recently finished an inquiry into the use of supply teachers in schools. I’ve followed that up with some research on the local situation in Cardiff. I’ve found out that some employment agencies pay supply teachers significantly less than the rate for the job even for a recently-qualified teacher in post. Sometimes, supply teachers are used not just to cover unexpected absence, but to cover maternity leave. I contacted six agencies used by Cardiff schools. Only two, Capita and Hays categorically affirm they pay the rate for the job after 12 weeks in post. But the other four: Academics, Apollo, Bay Resourcing and New Directions admit they use the “Swedish derogation” loophole to get round the EU Agency Workers Regulation to enable them to continue paying supply teachers less than they are entitled to; all argued that schools have tight budgets.
I wrote an article on it in the Western Mail last week. These are all worrying issues which I spoke about in the Senedd. I know the Minister for Education is concerned; but School Governors need to start asking some searching questions of their Heads to make sure your school is not short-changing your pupils, as this practice is bound to have an impact on the quality of teaching and learning.
The UK government plans to cut in-work benefits. This is likely to have a devastating impact on people in low-paid jobs, who rely on working families tax credit and child tax credits to supplement their inadequate wages. In the Assembly, I asked the Finance Minister how the Welsh Government is going to address the cost of childcare so that parents can keep their jobs in the absence of tax credits. This is something high on the Welsh Labour Government’s agenda and mine.
Helping Young People into Work
Lots of work has been done by the Welsh Labour Government on getting young people into apprenticeships. Nevertheless, the Enterprise and Business Committee’s report; Assisting Young People into Work revealed that the scale of the task that Wales faces in helping our young people into work is immense. Many 19 to 24-year-olds are not in education, training or work (NEETs).
In the debate on the report I spoke about some of the bright, articulate young people I’ve met who know where they want to go but need help getting there. Some of them don’t have the support that young people normally get from their parents. Ongoing support is vital to ensure that they make good career choices and have the resilience they need to lose heart when people say no to them. Jobs Growth Wales has done a good job, helping people as has Communities Forst in Llanedeyrn and Adamsdown. We know is that the best guarantee of ensuring that we’re not passing deprivation from one generation to the next is to make sure parents are in work, but the UK Government is making it really hard for them.
In Wales we have a huge coastline, and a large amount of wind that we can tap into. We also have communities who are interested in generating their own energy.
I’m a member of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, which recently visited Germany to see first hand the German “energy revolution” that’s underway. Some of the lessons that we learnt was the importance of a stable feed-in tariff (the UK Government keeps changing it) and the right of communities to sell, as well as produce, their own energy. In Germany these two factors have led to a blossoming of renewable energy providing a solid income for many communities. The Committee launched an enquiry into Smarter Energy for Wales at the Royal Welsh Show(include link). How can we break through the dominance of the Big Six, and monopoly of the electricity network by National Grid. I raised this with the First Minister, and hope the Committee enquiry provides us with the answers for the next few years.
My Statement of Opinion denouncing the UK government’s decision to quietly drop the obligation to make all new homes carbon neutral from 2016 has attracted support from other parties. Architects at Cardiff University have designed a house as a power station; it generates more power than it uses. This needs developing into homes fit for the 21st century.
Now that the Assembly has broken up for the summer, it’s an opportunity to look back at some of the key issues that I’ve raised in the Senedd this term....Go to the post