Today we publish a collection of articles analysing some of the key issues Members of the Senedd are likely to address over the next five years.
‘What’s next? Key issues for the Sixth Senedd’ is prepared specifically for Members of the Senedd, but it’s an excellent starting point for anyone interested in getting to grips with the challenging social, economic, environmental and public policy issues facing Wales.
The collection is available as a single document today, and we’ll be publishing the individual articles over the coming weeks, alongside our usual impartial, topical publications.
The collection begins by looking at the current state of the pandemic in Wales, including the immediate challenges facing the new Welsh Government, and the longer term impact. The next article explores what a post-Brexit Wales might look like. We move on to other cross-cutting issues such as equality, the digital revolution, and the media.
In the health and social care chapter, we examine whether the pandemic might be a catalyst for change in the social care sector. Mental health is also a serious and increasing concern, and our article looks at access to services and the need for a broader, strategic focus. We then scrutinise the data on hospital waiting times, and the backlog in ‘routine’ healthcare created by COVID-19.
The economy and business chapter begins with an overview of options for economic recovery, looking at jobs and business support. The next article specifically explores some of the hardest hit sectors of non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, tourism and culture. We then move on to poverty and low-income households, and what levers the new Welsh Government has to support the people hardest hit by the pandemic.
The communities chapter starts with an analysis of whether it’s possible to deliver the huge challenge of ending homelessness. It moves on to public transport, exploring the need for bus and rail services to be supported to get back on their feet. The final article asks if the target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050 is achievable.
In the education and skills chapter, we begin by studying the impact of the pandemic on learners, and the options to help schools in the immediate and longer term. The next article looks at the relationship between skills and prosperity, and the challenges in linking the two. The third article summarises the major educational reforms that need delivering in the next few years around the curriculum and additional learning needs.
The environment chapter starts by asking if Wales can meet the target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and goes on to explore air quality, of which Wales has some of the worst in the UK. We go on to look at the new landscape for farmers and nature after leaving the EU.
The public finance chapter explores the pressures facing local government and how services are changing. We then look at taxation, and whether and how new powers will be used in the Sixth Senedd. The final article in the chapter summarises the trends in Welsh budgets over the previous Senedd and Wales’ funding framework.
These are the issues we think will be in the top of Members’ inboxes and at the forefront of their minds as they begin their work in this Sixth Senedd.
Senedd Research will be publishing topical and impartial articles throughout the Sixth Senedd, and look forward to supporting Members and their staff in the coming years.
Article by Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament