Wales 'standing up' to austerity policies says Carwyn Jones

There are no specific targets to meet, instead there are indicators to show how well ministers are doing

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First Minister Carwyn Jones has said Wales is making progress in "the most difficult economic circumstances".

Publishing the Welsh government's annual progress report he said Wales was also "standing up" to UK government austerity and welfare policies.

Mr Jones said there were "major challenges" facing the NHS and reorganising services was "essential".

Conservatives dismissed the report as a "fig leaf to cover the failure of his tired and lazy government".

Mr Jones said the Programme for Government document showed progress being made in areas including the economy and jobs, transport, education and housing but he said there was "much still to do".

Defending the NHS was his administration's "top priority".

Start Quote

A less than useful analysis of the state of the government's programme of action and the state of Wales in general”

End Quote Kirsty Williams AM Welsh Liberal Democrat leader

Mr Jones told AMs there were "major challenges" in managing "unprecedented levels of demand" and insisted reorganising health services was essential.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies described the report as "nothing more than a fig leaf to cover the monumental failure of a tired and lazy Welsh Labour government, which under Carwyn Jones has run out of steam".

"This document glosses over appalling waiting times in the NHS due to Labour's record-breaking health cuts, fails to report on the progress of enterprise zones to secure economic growth and ignores the recent Pisa tests which will lay bare performance in literacy and numeracy," he said.

'Self-congratulatory'

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood argued that the report gave the impression "everything is going well" in Wales and people's experiences did not match that.

She highlighted problems in areas including the health service, such as a "persistent failure" to meet ambulance response times, and education.

Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams criticised the programme document as "pages and pages of self-congratulatory bumf with little meaning or use to assembly members or the people of Wales".

She said it was "a less than useful analysis of the state of the government's programme of action and the state of Wales in general" from a "lacklustre" Labour government.

Earlier the Welsh government's record on Wales's long-term challenges was described as "patchy" by the director of a leading think-tank.

Lee Waters of the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) said the current Labour government was a political success, despite lacking an overall majority.

But there were failures in health and education that needed to be addressed, he said.

Mr Waters said Mr Jones had kept his minority government in power since 2011 and "deflected" blame for spending cuts on to Westminster.

"He's done very well on the politics," he said.

"But the government is about the long-term decisions about the problems we face, and that's where I think the record is much more patchy."

Targets had been missed for waiting times and ambulance call-outs, he said.

"They've been in government for 13 years and they are still missing key targets on the health services."

Despite making a series of reforms, Education Minister Leighton Andrews has warned the next round of results from the world-wide Pisa tests are unlikely to show an improvement when they are published in the autumn.

"On their own benchmark of delivery the government have still got a long way to go," Mr Waters said.

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