How is the Draft Budget scrutinised? A National assembly for wales quick-read

What is the role of the Finance Committee?

The Finance Committee is a cross party committee of the National Assembly for Wales with 7 members, representing the four main political parties at the Assembly.

The Business Committee consults with the Finance Committee before deciding on the final reporting date. In line with Standing Orders the Committee was given five sitting weeks to report on the draft budget.

The Finance Committee is responsible for reporting on the draft budget and can also recommend changes to the amounts proposed in the draft budget, providing these changes do not increase or decrease the overall amount of resources or cash proposed. The Committee’s scrutiny of the draft budget is the first stage in the budget process. Following the publication of its report, a motion to note the draft budget is debated in Plenary – a meeting attended by all Assembly Members.

Pre Budget Consultation

The Committee held a pre-budget consultation, running from Wednesday 20 July to Wednesday 21 September, asking stakeholders for their opinions on the impact of the previous budget and expectations of the upcoming draft budget. The call for evidence also identified the nine key areas the Committee wished to focus on during scrutiny. These areas included sustainability of public services, preventative spending, the Welsh language and preparation to leave the EU.

The Chair of the Committee produced a video calling for evidence through Dialogue, an online conversation site, which could be used to inform all Committees in their scrutiny of the draft budget.

Evidence Sessions

The Committee held a series of evidence sessions to inform the report. The first and last of these sessions were held with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, Mark Drakeford. The first session allows Members to gain further clarification and understanding on the proposed draft budget before sessions with stakeholders.

The Committee took evidence from a number of organisations to inform its final scrutiny of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government and to gather evidence for its report. The organisations who gave oral evidence were Chwarae Teg, WWF Cymru, WWF UK, Welsh NHS Confederation, Welsh Local Government Association, Community Links, Swansea University, University of South Wales and the Health Foundation.

Stakeholder Event

The Committee held its first ever external stakeholder event, on the Draft Budget, on 17 November 2016 in Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil. This included representatives from a number of organisations across Wales.

All Members attended the stakeholder event, holding discussions for an hour before feeding back to the group about the key points raised at their table. This was held just before the final scrutiny session with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, meaning Members were fully informed going into the session and able to utilise points that had been made.

Report

Policy and Legislation Committees within the Assembly conducted their own scrutiny sessions on the draft budget. When they had finished gathering evidence they wrote to the Finance Committee with their views. These letters helped inform the Committee’s report.

The Committee used the written and oral evidence it received to inform its report. The Committee made 14 recommendations to the Welsh Government. The Committee published a report on its Scrutiny of the Welsh Government Draft Budget 2017-18 on 29 November 2016. The Cabinet Secretary stated in Plenary on 6 December 2016 that he will formally respond to the recommendations before the Final Budget debate on 10 January 2017.

Draft Budget Debate

The Draft Budget debate was held on 6 December 2016. This consisted of opening remarks from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, a contribution from the Chair of the Finance Committee and then a debate between Members. The Cabinet Secretary then closed the debate responding to points made by Members. One amendment was tabled to the motion but it was not agreed. The motion was agreed - 27 Members voted in favour, 15 Members voted against and 10 Members abstained.

Finally, the Welsh Government must present the annual budget motion to the Assembly. The motion cannot be amended, so Assembly Members are limited to voting to support or oppose the final budget (or abstain from voting). This motion is scheduled for debate on 10 January 2017.

What is the role of the Assembly? How is it different to the Welsh Government?

The Welsh Government's job is to propose laws, make policies, and spend money on things like hospitals, schools and roads in Wales. The National Assembly for Wales's job is to make sure that the Welsh Government's decisions about these things are in the best interests of Wales and its people.

Keep in touch

To keep up to date with the work of the Committee visit the webpage or follow @SeneddFinance on Twitter.

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