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  • Mar 31, 2014:
    • Housing Bill needs to address affordable housing supply
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Housing and Local Government, Peter Black has called on the government to include a statutory duty in the Housing (Wales) Bill for its own Ministers to set termly targets for the supply of new affordable homes. Mr. Black has tabled an amendment for consideration by the Assembly when it debates the general principles of the Housing (Wales) Bill on Tuesday. He believes that the haphazard approach to targets, including the definition of what is and is not an affordable home can be cleared up with a statutory duty. "The first time a target was set for new affordable homes was in the last Assembly," said Mr. Black, "when Ministers sought to build an additional 6,000 during their four year tenure. However, they struggled to meet that target and there were questions that still persist today, as to what should and should not be included in the definition. For example, people who had benefitted from the mortgage rescue scheme so that their home was not repossessed were included, when clearly that is not a new property available to others at an affordable price." "The present Government set a target of 7,500 new affordable homes at the beginning of its term and has since revised this to 10,000. It is my view that this is good practice that should be made compulsory for all future Ministers. I would like to see a target set after each Assembly election, with a duty to review it and report on it annually. I believe that needs to be enshrined in law." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 27, 2014:
    • 'Confusion and bureaucracy are creating obstacles for disabled and elderly people applying for blue badges'
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats spokesperson on local government and equalities, Peter Black has accused the Welsh Government and local councils of failing to properly apply new regulations on blue badges so that many elderly and disabled people are missing out. Mr. Black was speaking in after a large number of constituents have approached him about the way that rules are being applied by local councils. Problems include requiring applicants to apply in person irrespective of their mobility problems, having unqualified staff carry out assessments because the Welsh Government will no longer pay for doctors to supply certificates, local councils refusing to use occupational health therapists to carry out assessments on appeal as required by Welsh Government guidance and the failure of Welsh Government to provide a promised toolkit on time to assist councils in processing applications. "Like many other Assembly Members I have received a large number of representations from applicants for blue badges and their families angry that they have hit a wall of confusion and bureaucracy in seeking to navigate the application process," said Mr. Black. "I have written a number of letters to the Minister and to local councils in my region only to find that they contradict each other in their answers. It is little wonder that my constituents are angry about this mess. "The Welsh Government say they cannot afford the £600,000 a year it was costing for doctors to carry out assessments for blue badges, whilst councils are arguing that they do not have the resources to fund guidance that says they must employ an occupational therapist to assess appeals. In the meantime a toolkit designed to help officers carry out assessments has not yet appeared and instead they are applying their own criteria. "This is a disaster and the Minister needs to get a grip and sort it out." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 26, 2014:
    • Council Tax changes key to bringing empty homes back into use
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Housing and Local Government, Peter Black has reiterated his support for a change in regulations allowing for flexible council tax charges on empty properties. Speaking ahead of an Assembly debate on Council Tax, Mr Black said: "I have been advocating changes in regulations allowing Local Authorities to increase charges on empty properties for several years. The Welsh Liberal Democrats brought this debate to the Assembly back in 2008 and several times since then. "In many areas empty homes are a blight on local communities and councils have failed to take advantage of powers they have to bring them back into use.  Allowing them to charge higher council tax levels would be one step towards this.  "Obviously there are some instances where homes are left empty through no fault of the owners and we would wish to ensure extra charges do not penalise those who are, for example, renovating their property, or negotiating their way through a particularly complicated settlement of a deceased person's estate. "In other cases, however, where homes have been empty for some considerable time we believe a sliding scale of increased payments would help encourage owners to get their homes back into use, thus increasing the number of affordable properties on the market. "The upcoming Housing Bill will hopefully introduce legislation to this effect and I will continue to campaign to ensure this happens." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 25, 2014:
    • Proactive measures must be at the heart of tackling anti-social behaviour says Assembly Member
      In a debate in the National Assembly on housing related anti-social behaviour, the Welsh Liberal Democrats highlighed the importance of early intervention, prevention and cooperation between agencies and called for the devolution of powers to more effectively tackle anti-social behaviour. Commenting, the Welsh Liberal Democrats spokesperson for housing and social justice, said: "Anti-social behaviour can have a severe impact on communities, and it is vital that we promote good practice in reducing its prevalence. "It is welcome news that recorded crime is down over 10% since June 2010, which is the lowest level since records began over thirty years ago.  However, there is still much work to be done as UK social landlords spent £325million in 2011-12 on tackling anti-social behaviour, which is a vast sum that could be better spent elsewhere. "Preventative measures, early intervention and cooperation between stakeholders, are key to addressing anti-social issues so that they are resolved quickly and effectively.  More effort needs to be made to support landlords in adopting preventative and restorative methods and to encourage landlords to engage with police and community surgeries. "It is also important that policing and youth justice are devolved, so that there can be a greater coordination between agencies such as the police, local authorities and health boards in addressing anti-social behaviour." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 20, 2014:
    • Assembly Member welcomes shake-up of protection insurance market
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Social Justice, Peter Black has welcomed moves by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to clamp down on poor practice in the selling of all kinds of protection insurance. Mr Black's comments come after the FCA announced plans earlier this month to improve competition and consumer protection in this sector after an eight-month investigation found poor competition, low levels of claims, and people potentially being overcharged by up to £200 million a year for products that they neither need nor use. Mr Black said: "You would have thought that after the miss-selling of PPI for which financial institutions are still being forced to pay out compensation to customer, the industry would have learned its lesson. You would clearly be wrong. "Far too many people still complain to me about things like pre-ticked boxes on websites, overpriced travel insurance from travel agents and tour companies, add-on personal accident insurance, and expensive stand-alone insurance for items like mobile phones and tablets. "That is why I support the FCA in seeking to ban pre-ticked boxes, to insist on the industry providing cooling-off periods so that people can change their minds, and to force companies to come clean about the number of successful claims up front so that customers can judge if an insurance really is value for money or just another rip-off. "As fat-cat financial institutions won't reform on their own, they must be forced to do so." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 19, 2014:
    • We need action not an Action Plan says Assembly Member
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has expressed his concern at the lack of diagnostic consultants in Wales for those on the autistic spectrum. Mr Black asked the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services what provision she is making for diagnosis and support for those on the autistic spectrum.  The deputy minister informed the Assembly that an advisory group were refreshing an action plan with a task & finish group specifically to look at children's diagnostics.  "Children and their families do not need another action plan" said Mr Black. "They need action. Children are not getting a diagnosis so are not receiving the support they need from health services. They are not being statemented so are falling through the education system. These children end up burdening Social Services. With the right support they wouldn't be there.  "We have a severe shortage of children's specialist consultants in both autism and mental health.  Children aren't receiving the support they need.  The effect on the children and their families is devastating, as well as causing additional costs for the local authority.  "The Deputy Minister can tell us about groups and action plans but what about the children of Wales?  What they need is action.  I urge the Minister to take that action." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 14, 2014:
    • Empty Homes target is empty words says Assembly Member
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson, Peter Black has expressed his concern at the lack of progress by the Welsh Government in bringing empty homes around Wales back into use. Welsh Government statistics published this week on the Houses into Homes scheme have shown that in the 18 month period between the scheme being launched and September 2013, only 313 houses have been brought back into use. The Government's target is 5,000 empty homes being restored to habitation over the five year Assembly term. Figures published in January show that there are 19,764 empty and unfurnished homes across Wales which are currently exempt from council tax. In addition there are a further 5,604 dwellings which are exempt as a result of being vacant on the death of the occupant or owner. "The Minister has set an ambitious and much needed target of 5,000 empty properties becoming homes during this government," said Mr. Black, "yet nearly 3 years into this 5 year Assembly term he has not even reached 10% of that target. It may well be that there are a number of applications still being processed but that is unlikely to get him back on schedule." "The Welsh Government need to take a much tougher approach to this issue with a national Empty Homes strategy to drive forward the programme across Wales. This would also involve a proper assessment of the resources and tools needed by local councils on the ground and proper coordination of their work.. "At the current rate only 1,251 empty houses will have become homes by the end of the Assembly term. That would be 25% of the Government's target. Ministers need to pick up the pace now or risk failure." ENDS http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/houses-into-homes/?lang=en Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 13, 2014:
    • VAT officials must allow paper filing for those who need it
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has added his voice to those like the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group who are calling for the tax authorities to continue to accept VAT returns on paper for businesses who don't have a choice in the matter. HM Revenue and Customs, who collect VAT, are trying to get all their returns online with no paper option. Mr Black is already supporting the 'Keep Me Posted' campaign that champions the right of customers to continue to get paper bills from energy providers at no extra cost. Mr Black said: "Nobody is saying that HMRC shouldn't try to be as efficient as possible. But, like the energy providers, they need to take into account the personal circumstances of those they deal with. "Businesspeople in our region who work in areas where broadband is unreliable, or who are unable to get online easily for other reasons should not be penalised for something that they can do nothing about. "A Tribunal has already told HMRC that forcing online returns on people who are prevented from using them by disability, age, or who live in areas where broadband is unreliable is a breach of human rights, and that the telephone filing service that HMRC offered was both inconvenient, and unlawful because it was not permitted by regulations. "I also understand that HMRC kept the existence of their telephone filing service a secret. How on earth did they expect busy local businesses to find out about it? Such behaviour is unacceptable. They work for us, not the other way about. "That is why HMRC must allow those local businesses who need to do so the option of making a paper VAT return without penalty." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 12, 2014:
    • Welsh Lib Dems announce plans for young person's concessionary fare scheme
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats have published plans for a new concessionary bus fare scheme for young people and students in Wales. Young people are disproportionately impacted by increases in public transport fares due to their reliance on public transport to access education, employment, training and apprenticeships. The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today published a cost efficient proposal for a concessionary fare scheme for young people that they would bring forward in government. South Wales West Assembly Member, Peter Black said: "Affordable public transport is key to enabling young people to access work, education, training and apprenticeships. That is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for a national concessionary scheme for young people aged 16-18, as well as those in full time education. "Our report recommends a national concessionary fare scheme based on a blanket reduced fare rate for 16-18 year olds and students. This policy achieves the objectives of improving access to affordable transport for young people, with minimal administration costs. "While some local authorities in Wales have taken welcome steps to introduce bus schemes for young people, there is significant variability in these schemes which creates confusion and difficulty in travelling across local authority boundaries. Introducing a national concessionary fare scheme would end this confusion and give young people more affordable access to public transport." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Assembly Member asks Minister to change planning law on Houses in Multiple Occupation
      Speaking in the Welsh Assembly today, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black pressed the Minister for Housing and Regeneration to give local councils the power to better control the spread of houses in multiple occupation in residential areas. Mr. Black was responding to complaints that many communities are suffering social problems, parking chaos, rubbish and noise pollution due to poor planning laws and burdensome enforcement. In particular the growth of HMOs is largely unplanned and in most cases do not require planning permission. "At the moment, any prospective landlord can avoid getting planning permission on a HMO in Wales providing less than 8 people live in it," said Mr. Black. "There is no control in place to safeguard balance in communities. Reducing that trigger to 5 or 6 and forcing owners to apply for planning permission would enable local councils to set out planning policies that would control the proportion of properties in a community set up as HMOs. "I am pleased that the Minister has said that he will review this requirement as part of the forthcoming planning bill. It is important that we get the balance right in local communities so as to reduce nuisance and ensure that they remain sustainable." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 5, 2014:
    • Peter Black backs calls for minimum nursing levels to be introduced for Welsh hospitals
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has backed a private members bill from Brecon and Radnorshire Assembly Member, Kirsty Williams. Speaking in the Senedd today, Mr. Black referred to a meeting with nurses in Princess of Wales Hospital last week in which he learned of the day to day pressures being faced by staff as a result of inadequate cover. Staff told him that often they were required to work ten hour shifts without having time for a comfort break or to eat, that the paperwork involved in admitting a patient could take an hour to complete and that there is little or no time for continuous professional development. "There is increasing evidence that under-staffed wards put unreasonable pressure on medical staff and that this can lead to mistakes or important tasks remaining undone," said Mr, Black. "This pressure, together with the physical demands of the job can lead to high levels of sick and absence and this increases the strain nurses are put under. "I was pleased to learn that many of the issues raised by nurses are starting to be addressed in Princess of Wales Hospital. It is not always the number of nurses that matter but the skills mix, so that inexperienced staff are complemented and mentored by more seasoned nurses. "I believe that following the example of other countries and addressing Wales' poor ratio of nurses to beds by legislation will help to ensure a higher quality of care for patients and address some of the issues that have arisen in Welsh hospitals recently. I am happy to support the principle of Kirsty Williams' bill so that it can go forward for further consideration." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Work Harder to Return Customers' Money" Energy Companies Told
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Social Justice, Peter Black has backed Ofgem's recent call for energy companies to do more to return the £400 million in customers' closed accounts that they are hanging on to at present. Ofgem has found that the 'Big Six' energy companies weren't doing enough to return money left in an account after people move or switch suppliers. Mr Black said: "While the £400 million figure is UK-wide, there will be ex-customers throughout our region who will be in the position of having a closed account that is still in credit. "It isn't just households that are affected. Ofgem reckon that 300,000 businesses across the UK are in the same boat. "The 'Big Six' have recently been forced to make more effort to refund direct debit customers who end up in substantial credit. They should treat this issue in the same way, and change their procedures to make certain that people do not build up large credit balances prior to switching or moving. "If anybody has switched or moved, and thinks they may be in credit with a former supplier, then the best thing is to get in touch, making sure that they have their old address and account details." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 4, 2014:
    • Parents in Wales being let down by Labour's complacency over childcare
      The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has accused the Welsh Labour Government of presiding over a childcare crisis. This follows the publication, of the Family and Childcare Trust's annual childcare survey 2014 which shows that childcare costs in England are falling in real terms for the first time in twelve years, whilst in Wales the cost of nursery care for under twos has significantly increased. It has also revealed that local authorities reporting adequate childcare provision for under twos has gone down, with just one in five Welsh councils saying they have sufficient places available. Not a single council reported having adequate provision for children in rural areas. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Labour government to do more to assist families who are struggling to find, and pay for childcare in Wales. Mr Black said: "The childcare report published today on International Women's Day makes grim reading for many parents in Wales. While childcare provision in England is vastly improving, here in Wales under Labour, parents are increasingly struggling to either find or pay for childcare. "The Welsh Labour Government heralds its Flying Start Scheme, yet all too often it is not meeting key aims in terms of outcomes for parents and children. Flying Start is too inflexible and whether a parent can access the scheme depends on their postcode rather than their need. "Not a single council in Wales is offering adequate provision for children in rural areas. We are going backwards in terms of both availability and cost of childcare. This simply isn't good enough. "While Liberal Democrats in England take positive steps to support parents needing childcare, parents in Wales are being let down by Labour's complacency, and lack of action." ENDS Notes for Editors:- The UK Government is introducing tax free childcare for working families in 2015, which will be worth an extra £1,200 per child. This will benefit 110,000 families in Wales. The Family and Childcare Trust's annual childcare survey 2014 can be found here: http://www.familyandchildcaretrust.org/childcare-costs-surveys Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Mar 3, 2014:
    • Welsh Government considers statistics axe
      The three opposition parties in the National Assembly have today come together to raise concerns that the Welsh Government is considering scrapping some of its own performance indicators. The Welsh Government's consultation on 'Proposals concerning the publication of official statistics' closed last night, with responses from the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Each party made clear its opposition to the scrapping of Welsh Government performance data and the implications for the accountability and transparency of the executive. Paul Davies AM, Shadow Minister for Finance, said: "It is a vital part of our democracy that voters can access reliable and independent data on the performance of the Welsh Government so they can make an informed decision at the ballot box. "We are very concerned at the suggestion that the Welsh Government may scrap some of its own performance indicators, which would make it more difficult for politicians, the media and voters to hold the government to account. "Openness and transparency drive up standards and unless the Welsh Government's performance can be objectively measured, it is very difficult to identify and address its shortcomings.". Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Economy, said: "Our job as opposition members of the National Assembly is to hold the Welsh Government to account - to make sure that they are doing a good job and to put them right if they are not. Without regular and up-to-date statistics, it is simply not possible for us to do our jobs properly. "It is an absurd situation in which to find ourselves that we are using economic indicators showing GDP in 2011 to analyse our economic progress in 2014. Westminster enjoys up-to-date GDP statistics for every quarter with regular revisions while we in Wales are forced to use data that is three years out-of-date. "It is very worrying indeed that the Welsh Government's consultation document refers to the possibility of publishing even fewer statistics when it is evident that there is already a clear lack of data available." Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Finance, said: "The Welsh Liberal Democrats are pleased to hear that efforts are being made to improve the frequency and efficiency of statistical publications and improve efficiency. "However we believe that more must be done to prioritise accessibility of information and we would be deeply concerned over any proposal to end the publication of statistical information which would limit the transparency and accountability of the Welsh Government and its agencies." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 19, 2014:
    • Welsh Lib Dems call for better access to affordable childcare
      Peter Black is calling on the Welsh Labour government to do more to improve access to affordable, quality childcare. Research has revealed that one in three families spend 30% of more of their available earnings on childcare. Since the Liberal Democrats entered government in Westminster in 2010, there have been significant improvements to childcare services in England. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are concerned that the Welsh Labour government is allowing Wales' childcare provision to fall behind. Speaking after a Welsh Liberal Democrat debate on childcare in the Assembly, Mr. Black said: "The cost of childcare is a huge worry for many families. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that more needs to be done to ensure families have better access to affordable, high quality childcare in Wales. "Liberal Democrats in Westminster have vastly improved childcare provision in England. They have extended the hours available and have made it very flexible. This is in stark contrast to what is on offer here in Wales. The current system, under Labour, is far too inflexible. Families in Flying Start areas are only allowed 2.5 hours a day of free childcare a day. Even more worrying is that there is little to no provision for children who don't live in designated Flying Start areas. "For many mothers it is not worth working because childcare has become so expensive; the numbers simply don't add up for them. We want to change that. Of course it is perfectly reasonable that some parents choose not to return to work until their children attend school. However, we want parents to have the option to return to work available to them. "It is often said that over a million women are 'missing' from the UK workforce as financially it doesn't make sense for them to go back to work. More must be done to support these mothers in accessing affordable childcare as it will offer a significant boost to our economy." END Notes: In Wales, parents of 2 to 3 years olds in Flying Start areas are eligible for 2.5 hours a day of free childcare provision, 5 days a week, and a minimum of 10 hours a week of free early years provision for 3 to 4 years olds under the Foundation Phase. In England, the UK Government has introduced 15 free hours a week for the most disadvantaged 40% of 2 year olds, as well as 15 free hours a week for 3 and 4 year olds. The UK Government is introducing tax free childcare for working families in 2015, which will be worth an extra £1,200 per child. This will benefit 110,000 families in Wales. The Childcare Costs Survey 2013 revealed that only 25% of local authorities in Wales reported enough childcare for children aged two and under. Not a single local authority offered sufficient provision for parents with unusual work patterns, such as shift workers or those with disabled children. Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • 'Labour's poverty of ambition has led to decrease in homes'
      Responding to figures showing a decrease in the number of new homes registered in Wales, Peter Black AM has described the figures as a 'damning verdict' on the Welsh government's failure to stimulate Wales' housing market. Figures published have shown that the overall UK figure for new houses being registered increased by 28% to 133,670 in 2013 but Wales saw a 12% fall from 4,065 in 2012 to 3,577. Peter Black, Welsh Lib Dem Shadow Housing Minister commented: "These figures are a damning verdict on the Welsh Labour government and its failure to get both our economy and our housing market moving. "Liberal Democrats in the coalition government are overseeing a dramatic increase in the number of new homes being built. This drive means that once again Labour's poverty of ambition is letting Wales lag behind. "Wales desperately needs new homes to be built and the Welsh Labour government must show bold ambition or Wales will only fall further behind. "The Welsh Labour government has simply been too slow in understanding the importance of building news homes. It disgracefully delayed its Help to Buy scheme and house builders still face the burden of over-regulation. There remains a lack of access to available land, limited access to finance and continued delays within the planning system. The Welsh government must urgently review ways of stimulating our housing supply." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 13, 2014:
    • New Statistics show Welsh Councils are failing elderly and disabled people
      The amount spent by local councils on disabled facility grants has fallen by 10% since 2008 despite growing demand and unacceptable waiting times, according to government figures unearthed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing Spokesperson, Peter Black. Mr. Black has expressed his concern that as a result plans by health boards and local councils to enable people to recover from treatment and live longer in their own homes are unworkable. Mr. Black said: "Disabled Facilities Grants are essential to enable the elderly and disabled to live as independently as possible. That is thrust of government policy and yet, despite the cost of adaptations increasing the money spent on carrying them out has fallen by 11.5% over the last five years and continues to decline "The average waiting time for a grant to be completed across Wales is 9 months, which is still too long. In one local authority the wait is 18 months. The longer people have to wait for these adaptations then the longer they will stay in hospital, the more dependent they are upon others, and the chance of accidents and readmitance into hospital increases. That is a cost to our Health service and means that others have to wait longer." ENDS Private sector renewal activity, 2012-13: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2014/140212-private-sector-renewal-2012-13-en.pdf National Strategic Indicators by local authority and indicator PSR/002: The average number of calendar days taken to deliver a Disabled Facilities Grant https://statswales.wales.gov.uk/v/PaL Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 12, 2014:
    • One fifth of funds earmarked for frontline Credit Union support goes on consultancy
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Social Justice, Peter Black, has questioned the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty as to why one fifth of the monies set aside by the Welsh Government to assist Credit Unions in their work with financially excluded individuals is being spent on administration and consultancy work. Speaking in the chamber, Mr. Black highlighted the fact that of the £4.7 million allocated to phase two of a four year Credit Union project, of which £1.8 million came from the European Union, £998,543.20 has been paid to The Social Investment Business (SIB), which is a trading subsidiary of the charity, the Adventure Capital Fund. SIB are based in, and run from England. "In responding to my question, the Minister asserted that some of the money being paid to SIB was to offer business support to credit unions," said Mr. Black, "however, he was unable to outline in any detail as to what performance indicators are used in measuring the impact of that support or how it is monitored. "It is hard to justify the fact that one fifth of the money put aside to make credit unions sustainable and to help financially excluded people has been spent on administering this scheme. That is a lot of money that might have been better spent on front line services. It is the duty of the Welsh Government to use its resources effectively to help the most disadvantaged in our society. In my view they have failed to do so in this instance." Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
  • Feb 11, 2014:
    • AM calls on public to Support our More Nurses Campaign
      The Welsh Liberal Democrats have launched their 'More Nurses' campaign in a bid to make Wales the first country in the UK to establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels. In December, Kirsty Williams AM was drawn in the National Assembly's private member's ballot with her proposal for minimum nurse staffing levels to be enshrined in law. Kirsty is working with the RCN to encourage people to support the campaign to allow the legislation to be taken forward and properly debated. Assembly Members will vote on the proposed bill on the 5th March. The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black said: "There is increasing evidence from across the world that nurse staffing levels have a significant impact on patient care and the recruitment and retention of staff. Yet sadly in Wales our nurses are under immense pressure with high workloads, which means they are unable to give the level of care they would like. "It is staggering to see the vast difference in the ratio of nurses to patients in Wales when compared to the rest of the UK. Our nurses are being forced to do more, but with less. Wales deserves better than that. "Mandatory nurse staffing levels in other countries have led to increased recruitment and retention of nurses, reduced reliance on agency staff, fully funded budgets for safe staffing levels, better patient care, more manageable workloads, increased job satisfaction and reduced stress. "Safe nurse staffing levels would also be a more efficient use of funding, reducing reliance on costly agency staff and overtime, reducing lengthy hospital stays and reducing the risk of harm. "I want Wales to lead the way in being the first country in the UK to establish a legal duty for safe nurse staffing levels. We have three weeks left to make the case for this bill to progress to the next stage. I urge everyone to visit www.morenurses.org.uk to make their voice heard and encourage their local AM to vote 'yes' on March 5th." END Notes: The More Nurses Campaign can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/morenurses Currently Wales lags behind the rest of the UK in two key indicators of nurse staffing levels: Scotland England Wales N Ireland All nurses Mean patients per nurse 8.8 8.5 10.5 7.2 8.8 RNs as a percentage of staff 60 59 56 66 60 N-number of nurses 180 543 150 125 998 (Source: RCN) The 2013 RCN Employment Survey for Wales found that 53% of respondents work extra hours every week; workload and stress are key concerns for staff; 56% of nurses feel unable to give the level of care they would like; there are high levels of 'presenteeism' with 55% attending work two or more times in the past 12 months despite not feeling well enough. Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY
    • Allocating £50m to bail out LHBs sends the wrong message
      In response to the publication of the Supplementary Budget Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Finance Spokesperson, has accused the Welsh Labour government of sending a clear message to health boards that it is willing to continue to bail them out. The Welsh government has allocated £50m in "the event that some Local Health Boards are unable to achieve a breakeven position". Peter Black has also questioned why the Welsh government has decided to increase investment in Finance Wales despite recent criticisms aimed at the bank. Peter Black AM said: "Time and time again the Welsh Labour government has gone back on its word and bailed out Welsh health boards when they have overspent. It would seem the Welsh Labour government is prepared for this arrangement to continue. "The constant cycle of health board bailouts is completely unsustainable. Yet, through this supplementary budget, the Welsh Labour government has sent the message out loud and clear that it is prepared to carry on bailing health boards whenever the have lost control of finances. "The Welsh Labour government and health boards must demonstrate that every penny of the extra money will deliver better outcomes for Welsh patients by employing more nurses and addressing record breaking waiting times. "I also find it bizarre that the Welsh Labour government has decided to throw an extra £32 million to this investment bank. Only recently, Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, who has been advising the government, stated that Finance Wales was not fit for purpose. "Finance Wales has lacked focus and has left many businesses confused about what support it actually offers. It is essential that small businesses have access to funding at affordable rates and that is something that Finance Wales has simply not offered. Published and promoted by Peter Black, 110 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5QQ. This website was established while I was an AM and is paid for by me. Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY

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