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Chair’s Blog: #WelshTax stakeholder event

I’m Jocelyn Davies, the Chair of the Finance Committee (@SeneddFinance). This term the Committee are busy working on the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill. The Bill was introduced into the Assembly on 13 July 2015 and the Committee has until 27 November 2015 to look at the ‘general principles’ or the main aims of the Bill.

Stakeholder Event: 23 September 2015

Last week the Committee held a very useful and informative stakeholder event at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay on the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill.

Jocelyn Davies speaking at a workshop

The purpose of the event was to give people interested the opportunity to share their views on the Bill with Committee members. The session involved roundtable discussions with participants and Members, and a feedback session at the end.

People speaking at the workshop

The Committee was privileged to speak to so many high calibre professionals and hear their views, which will be invaluable for the Committee’s upcoming formal scrutiny sessions with witnesses including HMRC, Revenue Scotland and Natural Resources Wales.

I would like to thank all of those involved in making the event a success, this type of engagement is quite a new approach for the Committee and I personally found it very helpful in terms of understanding the issues and getting a wide range of views in an informal setting. We have produced a note of the meeting if you would like to read it.

How to get involved and keep up-to date

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Celebrating Bi Visibility day

Bi visibility day logo

Article by Emma Wilson, work experience placement

Bi visibility day is an important date in promoting equality. Originating in 1999 when US activists BiNET decided to create the day to spread awareness of bisexuality.

The day aims to educate the public on bisexual issues, eliminate negative preconceptions and to end discrimination received both from within the LGBT community and outside of it.

A recent article by YouGov revealed that less than half of the young people (18-24) surveyed identify themselves as 100% heterosexual, with a large number identifying on the bisexual spectrum.

Marginalising bisexuality leads to a negative impact on social and mental wellbeing of bisexual people. A 2012 survey showed that 5% of bisexual men made attempts on their life in one year compared with 0.4% of the general male population. It is for such reasons that days like these provide large importance.

The National Assembly for Wales is very pleased to have been listed fourth in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index and named the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales. We asked Mia Rees, the bisexuality lead of our LGBT staff network what being bisexual meant to her:

“Bi means questions. If you tell people you’re gay, nine out of 10 times people are like ‘Oh, OK, thanks for letting me know’ end of conversation. But if you tell people you’re Bi you are met with many ill-formed statements such as ‘You’re just gay but don’t know it yet’ or get intrusive personal questions about your sex life: ‘Have you slept with more men or women?’

Bisexuals are seen as a joke to both the gay and straight community which is hurtful and therefore when people assume I’m straight or gay I very rarely feel comfortable correcting them.

I recently broke up with my girlfriend and the first comment someone made was ‘Are you going to go back to men now?’ – What was I meant to say to that?!

I think people view bisexuality as a transition or experimental stage and for many it is but not all and it is important that is recognised.

To find out more about our LGBT staff network please contact Craig Stephenson.

For more information on how employers can better support bisexual staff members please read Stonewall’s guideBisexual people in the Workplace: Practical Advice for Employers

Further support and information for bisexual people is available from BiCymru or Stonewall Cymru

Stonewall Cymru "highly commended" group 2015LGBT Assembly staff network logoStonewall top 100 employers 2015

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Chair’s Blog: Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill

Jocelyn Davies, Assembly Member

I’m Jocelyn Davies, the Chair of the Finance Committee (@SeneddFinance). This term the Committee will be busy working on the Tax Collection and Management (Wales) Bill. A Bill is a draft law – once a Bill has been considered and passed by the Assembly it is given Royal Assent by the Queen, then it becomes law. The Bill was introduced into the Assembly on 13 July 2015 and the Committee has until 27 November 2015 to look at the ‘general principles’ or the main aims of the Bill.

Background to the Bill

The UK Government published the Wales Bill in March 2014 and it received Royal Assent in December 2014. The Wales Act 2014 provides the Assembly with the competence to legislate over devolved areas of taxation and provides a clear framework for the policy options with regard to replacement taxes, including tax on transactions involving interests in land and tax on disposals to landfill.

About the Bill

This is a Government Bill and it was introduced by Jane Hutt AM, who is the Minister for Finance and Government Business (known as the Member in Charge). The purpose of the Bill is to put in place the legal framework necessary for the future collection and management of devolved taxes in Wales. In particular, the Bill provides for:

  • the establishment of the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) whose main function will be the collection and management of devolved taxes;
  • the conferral of appropriate powers and duties on WRA (and corresponding duties and rights on taxpayers and others) in relation to the submission of tax returns and the carrying out of enquiries and assessments so as to enable WRA to identify and collect the appropriate amount of devolved tax due from taxpayers;
  • comprehensive civil investigation and enforcement powers, including powers allowing WRA to require information and documents and to access and inspect premises and other property;
  • duties on taxpayers to pay penalties and interest in certain circumstances;
  • rights for taxpayers to request internal reviews of certain WRA decisions and to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against such decisions; and
  • the conferral of criminal enforcement powers on WRA.

The work of the Committee – Stage 1

Stage One involves the consideration of the general principles of a Bill by a Committee, followed by the agreement of the general principles by a vote in Plenary by the Assembly.

It is the Finance Committee’s job to focus on the main purpose of the Bill, rather than looking at the fine detail (which is a matter for later stages). Over the summer the Committee ran a consultation asking interested organisations and individuals to provide written evidence to inform the Committee’s work. Fifteen responses were received and are available to read on our website.

The next part of our work will be to invite representations from interested parties to provide oral evidence to the Committee.

The Committee held its first evidence session on the Bill on 17 September 2015. At this meeting we heard from the Member in Charge, the Minister for Finance and Government Business and we questioned her about the Bill and its main purpose. If you missed the session, you can watch it again on Senedd.TV.

How to get involved and keep up-to date



#AskFirstMin – The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister wants to hear from you

#AskFirstMin – Have your question answered by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones


The Committee wants to hear from organisations, businesses and from you – more details on how to take part online below.

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister is meeting in Swansea on October 16 at 10.30 at the National Waterfront Museum. The main topic will be ‘Wales in the Wider World’. Here’s a flavour of the main drivers for discussion:

What is the Welsh Government’s overall strategy for marketing and promoting Wales to the world? What is the Welsh brand? How well are Welsh attractions promoted to tourists? Does the Welsh Government do enough to draw in investors?
Does the Welsh Government do a good job of making Wales seem appealing to tourists from the UK and abroad?  Is Welsh culture visible enough outside of Wales? What markets or products should be prioritised?


A full agenda will be posted on the Committee’s web page when confirmed. 

The majority of Committees meet weekly to scrutinise the Welsh Government in detail but The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister focuses on broad topics relating to any central strategic vision of the Welsh Government’s programme.

How do I take part online?

You can submit your question, observation or comment to the Committee on the topic of ‘Wales in the Wider World’ any way you like:

Twitter On Twitter – Follow @AssemblyWales on Twitter and reply to any tweets relating to this topic or use the hashtag #AskFirstMin. Also feel free to Direct Message us if you’d like it to be confidential.
 Facebook On Facebook – Like the Assembly’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on a relevant status. If you can’t see a relevant status then leave a comment on the page with the hashtag #AskFirstMin.
 Email E-Mail – You can send your views by e-mail to: FM.Scrutiny@Assembly.Wales
 Youtube On YouTube – Why not film yourself asking your question and then send us the link through any of the channels above?
 Instagram On Instagram – If you can express your views in a creative visual way we’d love to see it. Tag our Senedd Instagram account within your picture or just use the hashtag #AskFirstMin. Alternatively you can leave a comment on any one of our Instagram posts again with the hashtag #AskFirstMin.
 Wordpress Comments – Leave a comment on this blog post right now!

What happens next?

We will collate the responses and hand them over to the Committee’s Chair – David Melding AM. The Chair will then incorporate them into the line of questioning for the First Minister, Carwyn Jones. You can come and watch the meeting in person, online on Senedd.TV or read the transcript. We’ll let you know if your question was answered. The meeting will take place on 16 October, 10.30 in Swansea at the National Waterfront Museum.

We look forward to hearing your views!

 “You can see the extraordinary beauty, the wonderful people and great hospitality, so I’d encourage everybody in the States to come and visit Wales.”
– President Barack Obama

Explore the topic – ‘Wales in the Wider World’

This may seem like a complex topic but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the big picture. We want to hear out of the box ideas, comments from different perspectives and from different walks of life. Continue reading

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Chair’s blog: Health and Social Care Committee – looking back at the last five years

David Rees AM

I’m David Rees, and I’m the Chair of the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee.

The Health and Social Care Committee is a group of ten Assembly Members from across Wales, who represent the four political parties who make up the Assembly. Since 2011 our role has been to hold the Welsh Government to account on health and social care in Wales.

As the Committee’s work will come to an end before the Assembly elections next year (when people in Wales will get to choose who represents them for the next five years), we’re looking back over the past five years, and we want to know what you think.

We would like to hear views from everyone who would like to comment: those who have worked closely with us, those who have never engaged with us, and everyone inbetween.

We are gathering views from people across Wales on the past five years, including our way of working, the work we have done, and the impact it has had. We also want to hear about what the key challenges are going to be for health and social care in the next five years.

On that basis, thinking about the past five years:

  • How have we had an impact on health and social care in Wales?
  • What has been our biggest achievement?
  • If we could have done one thing differently, what would it be?
  • Have we struck the right balance between scrutiny of policy, finance and legislation?

And thinking ahead to the next five years:

  • What do you think will be the three biggest challenges for health and social care in Wales?

So if you have a view on these questions, please download a consultation response form or write to us at

Please make sure that your response is with us before 25 September 2015.

What happens then?

We will consider all of the responses we receive when we’re looking at our legacy, and will publish our conclusions before the end of the Assembly.

Where can you find out more information?

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Employment opportunities for people over 50

Back in November 2014 the National Assembly for Wales’ Enterprise and Business Committee decided it would undertake an inquiry into employment opportunities for people over 50 in Wales.

It can be difficult for people who are over 50 to find a job, especially one which uses all their skills. The Committee decided to look into what can be done about this because people are living longer and pensions are getting smaller. The majority of people are working longer and by now it is not required for people to retire when they are 60 or 65 years old.

As well as asking outside organisations, academics and the public what they think by asking them to respond in writing the Committee also visited representative organisations to discuss the inquiry with them.

The Committee visited staff members from John Lewis in Cardiff, NIACE Cymru, Working Links, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Wales TUC and Pembrokeshire County Council on 12 February 2015. Discussions were held around barriers that people over 50 face when looking for a new job. Are there any stereotypes about the employment of people over 50, how can they can be tackled and whether there is anything the Welsh Government need to do to support and promote employment for people over 50.

Some of the barriers discussed during these visits were the lack of funding for training opportunities and the lack of things like IT skills. You can see read more about these discussions on the Committee’s webpage here.

Here, Rhun Ap Iorwerth AM tells us about his discussion with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Human Resources staff.

As well as visiting representative organisations the Committee also spoke to individuals during their meetings at the Senedd, including the office of the older people’s commissioner for Wales and representatives from Age Cymru and Prime Cymru.

The Committee have published their report which includes recommendations on things the Committee thinks the Welsh Government should do to make it easier for people over 50 to find employment. One of the things the Committee have recommended that the Welsh Government do is to hold an ‘Age Positive’ campaign to encourage employers to employ people over 50. With the older people’s commissioner the Welsh Government should also have a campaign which will increase the number of work placements and apprenticeships for people over 50. The Committee also recommend that the Welsh Government should write a skills strategy for people over 50 which says how they will help those people get the skills they need to get a job.

You can see a copy of the full report or a summary report here and you can view press coverage from the report launch below by clicking on the images.




The Committee will be speaking to the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology during the autumn term to ask what she will do about their recommendations.

For updates please follow @SeneddEcon.


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