Wales’ 22 council leaders and all members of the Welsh Government Cabinet convened on Wednesday. The joint Cabinet meeting is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, following unprecedented levels of engagement between local government and Welsh Government since the onset of the pandemic.
The meeting was called to develop joint solutions around key challenges and delivering shared priorities through the Programme for Government, focused specifically on social care crisis and climate change.
Council leaders and ministers exchanged ideas for innovative and radical reform including around recruiting and retaining staff, delivery models and sustainable funding, and the commitments already made by councils in relation to procurement, transport, buildings and land use.
Councillor Andrew Morgan (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader said:
“This was a historic meeting which signifies the mutual respect between the Welsh Government and local government; and shows a partnership not seen elsewhere across the UK.
“Councils and Welsh Government share many priorities as part of delivering a vision to make a real difference in the lives of our communities. Among the most urgent of the priorities are fixing social care and dealing with the climate change crisis.
“Social services across Wales are at breaking point. There are short term problems that we need to address but there are also workforce and strategic questions that we can only answer by working together.
“Climate change is not something to worry about in the future: it is having an impact here and now, today. In the past couple of days, we have been clearing up across Wales after floods have again devastated families, homes, businesses and communities.
“Both present long term structural and systemic challenges, but also many opportunities for bold concerted, collective action to deliver change together.”
Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, said:
“We’ve seen, vividly, over these last eighteen months the critical working relationship Welsh and local government have developed to help us through the pandemic and allowed us to work together on behalf of the people who’ve needed us.
"The challenge now is to focus that partnership on the task of shaping recovery. What sustained us through the pandemic were the values of social justice, solidarity and cooperation that were the essence of public service in Wales. That ‘Team Wales’ approach is helping us get through the Covid crisis, and it can help us through the challenges of tomorrow, too. Developing bold, creative, innovative solutions jointly will help us achieve a better Wales."
Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said:
“Today was a unique opportunity for all local authority leaders and Welsh Government ministers to discuss shared ambitions and to jointly tackle two of our most significant collective challenges - social care and climate change.
“Discussions focused on both strategic ambitions and practical actions to take this work forward in the immediate and longer term. There is much to do, but we have a shared determination and clear commitment to work closely together to deliver the real change that is needed.”