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Section highlightHouses into homes This report details findings to emerge from the evaluation during the first six months of delivery (April to September 2012).
Written Statement - Update on tobacco policy »Standardised packaging of tobacco products and Sub Committees on The Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.Learn more »
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- Cardiff Airport key to Wales’ position in global market – First Minister
- Consultation on proposals for ground-breaking legislation to reform arrangements for renting homes
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
National minimum standards for regulated child care »These standards determine whether child minding and day care settings are providing adequate care for children under the age of 8.Learn more »
- Higher Education (Wales) Bill: Technical consultation
- Renting Homes White Paper
- Continuity and Change - Refreshing the Relationship between Welsh Government and the Third Sector in Wales
- Development of a national standards and outcomes framework for Children and Young People's advocacy services in Wales
- Strategic Environmental Assessment: Environmental Report, Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020
- The draft School Governors’ Annual Reports (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
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Section highlightFurther and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Bill 2013
Removes a number of technical restrictions and controls on colleges without changing the principal powers of colleges to provide further, higher and secondary education.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
Proposes a number of changes to the 1st Supplementary Budget for 2012-13, which was published on 26 June 2012.Learn more »
Written - Annual Report on implementation of the Service Personnel Command Paper
The Ministry of Defence has today published the first annual report on the implementation of measures set out in last year’s Command Paper, “The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans” (Cm 7424). Many of the commitments related to services which are devolved in Wales and I made it clear at the time that we would play our full part in taking these forward where appropriate. The report has been prepared by an External Reference Group on which the Welsh Assembly Government is represented. I am delighted at the excellent progress it records for us.
Wales has a long standing and proud military tradition and is closely identified with several regiments, including:
- 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry);
- The Welsh Guards; and
- The Royal Welsh Regiment.
Levels of recruitment here have always been high and our country is home to significant military communities. Nearly 3,000 regular Service personnel are based in Wales, most of them at 160 Brigade Headquarters, Brecon; Cawdor Barracks, Pembrokeshire; RAF Valley, Anglesey; or St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, which currently houses RAF, Army and Royal Marines personnel, and will increase in importance as the Tri-Service Defence Technical College comes on stream.
In the absence of precise figures, it could be estimated that spouses, partners and children of Service men and women probably add at least a further 5,000 to the Armed Forces community in Wales.
There are also more than 2,000 people attached to the reserve forces across Wales. They live and work in the local community, spreading skills and values acquired from their military experience. Members of these units can also find themselves serving alongside regular forces, sometimes in combat zones.
Most people leaving the Forces are still young enough to pursue a second career. Most will find that their military experience has left them with well developed skills, a sense of team spirit, and a strong work ethic, all of which are highly valued by employers. They might also be in a good position to offer voluntary service to the communities in which they settle. But their lives may still be touched by the memory – and sometimes the scars - of active service. And there are some ex-service personnel who need extra help in adjusting to civilian life.
We owe a debt of gratitude to all these people. In recent years, we have been acutely aware of the hazards faced by our Service men and women in their combat and peacekeeping roles in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans and Northern Ireland for instance. And we also have veterans of earlier campaigns, including the Falklands, Korea, and World War II. Sadly, these and other conflicts have claimed some of Wales’ best young lives. But it is important that we recognize the sacrifice of all members of the Armed Forces, past and present – as well as their families.
The demands imposed on our Service men and women are of a different kind from what faces others who serve and protect society. They are required to follow orders without question; they and their families are often separated for long periods, during which they might be facing considerable danger. The frequent need to move base, sometimes at short notice, disrupts family life. Forces’ accommodation can be relatively remote, making it difficult for partners and children to mix with civilian communities.
However, Service personnel are entitled to expect as normal a family life as their military obligations permit. That is what the Command Paper was concerned with. Not all of its commitments could be delivered immediately. Indeed, it set a five-year target for undertaking a full review of progress. Against that background, I believe that the Welsh Assembly Government’s progress, as reflected in this first annual report, has been excellent and I wish to highlight a few examples.
It is widely recognized that Armed Forces veterans may have particular health and social care needs which are not being fully addressed. We are participating in a UK-wide programme of pilots to assess these needs. Our Cardiff pilot will contribute towards the development of improved community mental health services for veterans across Great Britain.
We have also taken steps to ensure that there is a seamless transition between the Defence Medical Service and NHS for injured Service leavers who need prosthetic limbs as a result of injuries sustained on duty.
Mobility in Service makes home ownership a less straightforward option than for people in civilian life. To improve their chances of acquiring a home, we have given members of the Armed Forces priority status when applying for support under the Homebuy scheme. And, unlike other purchasers, they can apply for permission to sub-let if they are subsequently posted away from the area. This means that Service personnel and their families can now make long term plans for a settled home, well before they leave the Service.
If a Service man or woman has been severely disabled, they may be able to apply for Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) to cover adaptations to their home. However, DFG is means-tested and it would be wholly unfair if any pension or compensation payment they had received in respect of their injuries were counted against their grant entitlement. So we have changed the law so that their pension or compensation payments are not taken into account when considering grants levels in such applications.
It is not just Service personnel, but also their families, who are affected by the disruptions of Service life. It is vitally important that this should not impact on their children’s education. The new statutory Code on School Admissions, which came into force on 15 July, requires admission authorities to ensure that the needs of Forces families’ children are taken into account. They must not be refused a place at a school because the family does not currently live in the local authority area, but must be treated as meeting the relevant residency criteria so long as they can provide evidence that they will shortly be posted there.
Nor have we restricted ourselves to the commitments set out in the 2008 Command Paper. On 6 October, the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government announced the introduction of a 50 per cent council tax discount on second homes in Wales owned by Forces personnel. This will be particularly helpful to people wishing to buy a family home in preparation for their retirement from the Services.
There is more to be done. Over the next two years, we shall be implementing the remaining actions to which we committed ourselves in the Command Paper. These include extending concessionary bus travel to severely disabled Service personnel and veterans and ensuring that members of Forces families can retain their place on an NHS waiting list when they are required to move home.
Looking forward, it is important that the design of public services should take proper account of the needs of all citizens. We will therefore develop arrangements aimed at routinely embedding the principles of consistent and enduring support for the Armed Forces community into policy and programme development.