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    23 July, 2008

    Assembly Diary

    Last week the First Minister published the Assembly’s legislative programme for next year, building on the One Wales programme for government. One Wales set out our vision of a fair and just Wales, where everyone can live free from poverty and discrimination. We made a commitment to develop Wales-specific solutions to tackle child poverty. Our next step is to bring forward an Assembly Measure to provide greater support to children and families experiencing poverty. It will include a number of initiatives such as a duty on public agencies to demonstrate their contribution to ending child poverty and to provide free childcare places and other early years’ services in specific areas.

    As regards older people, One Wales made clear our commitment to help people to be independent and improve the care provided to vulnerable people by public, private and voluntary organisations. A key element of this agenda is to establish a fairer and more consistent approach to charging for non-residential social care. We therefore intend to develop proposals for an Assembly Measure to use our powers to establish a level playing field for charges for specified services levied by local authorities.

    We are working hard to get local authorities and other public bodies to work together. Our aim is to have effective and joined-up community planning to deliver high quality citizen-centred local services for Wales. Early in the autumn we expect to introduce a Measure for local government which will link well-being and community planning with service improvement.
    A stock of good-quality affordable homes is the foundation of thriving local communities and healthy family life in all parts of Wales. We want to develop a Measure within this legislative programme to give local authorities the power to apply to the Welsh Ministers to suspend the Right to Buy in areas of housing pressure for a limited period of time.

    The government is also looking at a draft legislative competence order in relation to the provision of bus and coach services championed by my Merthyr Labour colleague Huw Lewis AM.

    Not everything we do in the Assembly depends on legislation of course. I am pleased we have been able to put more money into the Heads of the Valleys programme, well above the original budget of £10million a year.

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

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