Glossy government update ignores big issues
As Labour’s First Minister publishes his annual ‘Programme for Government’ update, Welsh Conservatives have labelled it another ‘glossy’ book that ‘ignores the big issues’.
As in previous years, there are not expected to be any specific targets for achievement and, as a result, measurement of Labour ministers’ performance will be almost impossible.
Despite this, other statistics and developments are available to assess the success of Welsh Labour’s ‘Programme for Government’:
Last November, Labour’s education minister abandoned his government’s target to improve Wales’ performance in international school performance league tables (PISA), replacing it with a new target of achieving scores surpassed by England and Scotland two years ago.
Achieving at least Labour’s newly desired 500 points in each of the three skills by 2021 would, assuming other UK nations stand still, improve Wales’ UK ranking from the worst to the second worst.
Last week, figures published in England and Wales laid bare the widening gulf in NHS waiting times performance between the two nations.
At the end of April 2015, one in seven patients on Welsh NHS waiting lists (some 15.1% of patients) had been waiting for longer than 26 weeks to begin treatment and more than one in three of those (5.3% of patients) had waited for 36 weeks or more.
In England, just 6.6% of patients waited for longer than the shorter waiting time target of just 18 weeks.
Welsh Conservative calls for an extension to business rates relief (up to a rateable value of £12,000 and tapered to £15,000) have long gone unheeded despite a letter to the First Minister signed by over 70 businesses (http://www.welshconservatives.com/news/welsh-businesses-call-business-rate-relief-extension).
Just this week, an adviser to Labour’s business minister resigned following consistent Welsh Conservative criticism over his role in the collapse of hi-tech firm Ideoba.
Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:
“Another glossy update that ignores the big issues and dismisses the need for clear targets.
“On health – on education – on the economy – the evidence is clear; Wales continues to fall behind and Labour ministers have no answers.
“Don’t take it from me – listen to the experts, the independent reports and the cold hard statistics.
“Over 400 thousand people are waiting to start NHS treatment in Labour-run Wales. When Carwyn Jones became First Minister that figure was just 200 thousand.
“Global school test performance lags behind other parts of the UK and business support is nowhere near where it should be.
“This is the real programme for government update and an urgent focus is desperately needed on our schools, our NHS services, our businesses and our communities.”