Finance Questions 22nd February 2012

Mark Drakeford: Will the Minister make a statement on the procurement policy of the Welsh Government

Jane Hutt: The programme for government clearly lays out how the Welsh Government is supporting economic growth and improving public service delivery through public procurement. Our commitments to improve procurement systems and processes, along with widespread adoption of the community benefits approach, are delivering significant results.

Mark Drakeford: Thank you, Minister, for that answer and for your oral statement here yesterday. Given the substantial amounts of money involved in public procurement and the importance of the work carried out, do you agree that there is still a substantial job to be done in ensuring that those individuals who discharge those obligations on behalf of local authorities, health services and so on are properly trained and fully professionally qualified so that they can do the job on behalf of the public?

Jane Hutt: I thank the Member for Cardiff West for that question, following my statement yesterday. We need to develop more people with professional procurement skills in Wales. We are running a home-grown talent project funded by the European social fund, which is an innovative scheme where two cohorts of young trainees are completing placements across Wales. The first group started last year, and we are just about to appoint a further 12. That project also provides training for managers and procurement staff, while accelerating the use of e-procurement tools.

 

Mark Drakeford: Pa asesiad y mae’r Gweinidog wedi’i wneud o’r effaith bosibl ar gyllid i Gymru yn y dyfodol yn sgil Bil Iechyd a Gofal Cymdeithasol Llywodraeth y DU.

[What assessment has the Minister made of the potential impact of the UK Government’s Health and Social Care Bill on future funding for Wales]

Jane Hutt: The UK Government’s Health and Social Care Bill applies to the health service in England. The implications of the Bill for Wales are not expected to affect future funding for Wales.

Mark Drakeford: Thank you for that, Minister. That is an answer that I hope you will be willing to keep under review. Potentially, there are some important ways in which the Health and Social Care Bill will have an impact on future funding for Wales, not simply in the way that it affects training, for example, which has an effect on our budgets, but particularly in the way in which realignment and re-categorisation of spending in the English NHS will have an impact on comparabilities for Barnett funding purposes. These things may not be clear as yet and will depend on the way in which decisions are made. However, from our point of view, there is a potential double whammy here, with a reduction in the quantum that goes into Barnett, because of public funding reductions, and because of the way in which spending decisions in English departments have an impact on comparabilities.

Jane Hutt: Mark Drakeford is quite right to highlight the fact that constraints on public spending in England—whether driven by austerity and draconian cuts, as we have seen, or by ideological preferences for a smaller state, as we see in the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill, destroying the health service, or both—will have budgetary consequences for us in Wales. I assure Mark Drakeford and colleagues in the Chamber that we are working very hard to assess the possible impacts, as we are with all of the policy changes coming through that affect not only the people of Wales, but the services that we are entitled to.