A taxing 24 hours in the Senedd


It's been a busy 24 hours at the assembly.

Let's start with income tax.

Carwyn Jones used a debate on the Wales Bill, which will lead to the partial devolution of income tax, to re-affirm his opposition to the tax model on offer.

He said: "There needs to be in place a mechanism for the future devolution of income tax.

"We support that. We do not say that income tax should never be devolved, that clearly is not the case.

"But there are obstacles that need to be overcome. The lockstep is useless, it makes no sense at all."

The lockstep is the model which means that no one band can be targeted.

Instead, any changes up or down will have to be reflected in tandem across the 20% basic rate, the 40% higher rate and 45% additional rate bands.

A one pence reduction in income tax would result in a significant £200m fall in revenue for the Welsh government.

He also went on the attack against the Conservatives, accusing them of being in disagreement with each other on this issue.

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, has already been involved in a public disagreement with the Welsh Secretary David Jones over the use of the lockstep.

Andrew RT Davies says it's unworkable while David Jones supports it.

In what had been a routine debate, the chair of the Conservative group at the assembly, Nick Ramsay, livened things up when he said it was better for the assembly to have some element of control over income tax, even with the lockstep, than to have no powers at all.

Now we don't know exactly whether Andrew RT Davies would say it's better to have the lockstep than nothing at all, but he's been deeply critical of it and, frankly, more in tune with Carwyn Jones than David Jones on this.

It appears some within the group, like Nick Ramsay and Antoinette Sandbach, are more loyal to the Number Ten position.

Things could change.

One AM told me this morning that there is a hope that the lockstep condition in the Draft Wales Bill could be relaxed when the result of the Scottish referendum is known.

Council re-organisation also raised its head at an unlikely moment.

During First Minister's Questions, Carwyn Jones responded to attacks from Kirsty Williams on his education record by saying: "Will she support the re-organisation of local government and the strengthening of education or is the voting system more important to her than the education of our children?"

The background to this is that the first minister is attempting to generate cross-party support for proposals to halve the number of councils in Wales.

The Lib Dems are insisting on voting reform as a condition for supporting any changes, something which would never be accepted by rank and file Labour Party members.

Carwyn Jones specifically linked the under-performance of education authorities with the fact that he believes there are too many of them.

It'll be interesting whether he continues to use this strategy to try to force through council changes in future.

He also took a hard line on the pay of council chief executives, which has been used by many people to justify re-organisation.

A Wales Audit Office report has this week shown the huge variation in pay levels.

For example, the chief executive of Pembrokeshire County Council is on one of the largest financial packages of nearly £200,000, despite the council's budget being around a third of the size of Cardiff.

When he was asked about this, Carwyn Jones said: "It's inappropriate that councils are paying as they are.

"I am not angling for a pay rise, but I suspect that people will be surprised to see the chief executive of Pembrokeshire earns £65,000 a year more than the first minister of Wales.

"I think it's very difficult for them to justify.

"I think there are questions that councils have to answer in terms of the way they have paid senior officers and as a government we will give further consideration to what needs to be done in order to restore public confidence."

The big question is what exactly those confidence-restoring measures could be.

Nick Servini Article written by Nick Servini Nick Servini Political editor, Wales

Return to the past

I speculated last night on Wales Today that the rejection by Leighton Andrews of the three proposed voluntary mergers could lead to a return to six, seven or eight councils in Wales.

Read full article


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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    5 Mab I am quaking in my boots. I would be quite happy for Salmond to state clearly that an independent Scotland would not automatically become a member of the EU and NATO. That would be the total opposite of what he has said in the past.

    Why do think that Scotland has not yet used tax raising powers? Could it be due to the very generous Barnet settlement that it receives?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Isnt it terrible that our childrens education is caught up in a ridiculous power struggle. What ever needs to be done, should be done based on its own merrit. Not tied into some cross party bartering system.
    So sad, that while they play around in their little bubble our kids suffer with an under underperforming education system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Carwyn can blame the underperformance of education in Wales on the number of LAs if he wishes, the blame however lies firmly at his door. It's the need to make Wales different that is the underlying cause of underperformance in education, and the policies for education from the bay. It's a bit like watching schoolchildren blaming each other for the lost football. It's time this idiocy was ended.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    #9 The neo-cons are at least offering tax powers, OS or CJ depending on who you believe is running Wales, do not want it or maybe in the distant future.

    I see you have forgotten about the £18bn subsidy already.

    As for the Education argument WG encouraged consortia, job for 1 of the bosses advertised at £100k this week, others just below this, what could that money have done for schools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Welsh language schools should not receive preferential financial treatment (hidden or otherwise) over English language schools

    The extremely dubious "Welsh language immersion therapy" regime must stop immediately

    Compulsory Welsh language in non Welsh language schools is pointless, extremely harmful, and a huge waste of money !

    Welsh speakers must not have any job advantages


Comments 5 of 21



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