THE BLOG

Keeping It Local

27/03/2017 12:14

Making the global local will be the challenge as Welsh Labour delegates gather for our annual Conference in Llandudno. In the midst of Brexit discussions, and the ongoing ramifications of Donald Trump's election, we must remind ourselves that we also have to deliver for people locally on the bread and butter issues that are much closer to home. Council elections are just weeks away, and whilst we will be going all out to secure every vote we can, we know it will be tough to replicate our stellar results in 2012.

Events this week in Westminster will obviously be on everyone's minds, and the customary hugs and handshakes will be a little warmer and linger a little longer as we greet each other this weekend. Wednesday's attack shook us all, but the dignity and defiance on show from the police, Parliamentarians and Londoners continuing with their lives shows that terror will not win. Our members will be given every opportunity to express their sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the attack over the weekend.

A Fair Deal for Wales

Over the last couple of years I have travelled the country doing public events, under the banner (not my choice) of Carwyn Connects. They're invaluable occasions, not just to show the Welsh public that their Government is open and accessible - but to provide regular reminders to me about the real priorities that exist outside the political and media bubble.

Brexit is rarely mentioned. Local transport is. The desire for more quality, secure work and access to apprenticeships comes up everywhere. But, the clear single message which underpins almost every question is a people in search of a Fair Deal for Wales, and that is exactly what we aim to deliver for every community over the next four years. Brexit or no Brexit, people expect us to deliver on our promises and it is weekend we will show that this is exactly what we are doing.

On each of the six headline pledges we made to the people of Wales in May 2016, we have already made significant progress.

Delivering for Wales

You can already benefit from our new treatment fund which launched in January and just this week we announced the seven local authorities where pilots for our childcare scheme - the best childcare offer for working parents across the whole UK - will begin this autumn.

We have already raised the capital allowance meaning that people entering residential care will get to keep more of their hard earned money. By 2021 the limit will have more than doubled.

We've cut the tax burden for small businesses through our Small Business Rates Reduction scheme which provides support to 70% of small businesses in communities up and down our country.

By prioritising education and training, we are equipping our people with the skills they need to succeed. We are delivering an extra £100m funding for schools and 100,000 all-age apprenticeships by the end of the term.

Delivering for communities

Fairness is at the heart of everything we do as a party - but the huge budget cuts handed down by the Tories means that the financial context of public services has changed radically in a short space of time. Nowhere are the daily decisions tougher than for our councils - facing increasing demand but ever diminishing resources.

'Business as usual' is no longer an option, and it is Welsh Labour in council chambers up and down Wales, embracing this challenge and showing that there is a different way.

They have innovated to deliver the best services to the people they represent.

All the while ensuring that Labour values of fairness, community and social justice are the driving force of that innovation.

- In Cardiff we saw the creation of 'Cyd Cymru' an energy collective that helped 4,000 households switch to a cheaper energy tariff, saving householders an average of £235 each.
- Flintshire are taking advantage of the abolition of the Right to Buy and are investing in house building once again.
- My own council in Bridgend has invested in new Flying Start centres in Brackla, Cefn Glas, Garth, Lewiston, Blackmill, Sarn and Wildmill helping over 1,000 children and their families.
- Barry Island has been transformed thanks to our Welsh Labour council driving through ambitious regeneration plans and boosting tourism - Barry doesn't just look different under a Labour council, it feels different too. That's the confidence a Welsh Labour council working with a Welsh Labour Government can deliver.

It is also about taking budget decisions for the long-term, not replicating the Tory tactic of short-termism, u-turns and robbing Peter to pay Paul. That means pupils in deprived communities in Wales do better than their contemporaries elsewhere in the UK - because we've a stable and secure funding mechanism that puts the money where it is needed most.

It means we have avoided the social care crisis we've seen in England, because we didn't raid those budgets in order to make false claims about record health-spending. As Delayed Transfers of Care continue to rocket in England, they continue to fall in Wales. That is what we understand by delivering a Fair Deal for Wales, and that is the mature, determined approach we will take into May's elections.

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