Following the Christmas break, this week sees me return to the Senedd and make a start on the year ahead and all the challenges and opportunities it brings. This week the focus is largely on the draft budget, announced just before Christmas, and it’s a very challenging situation for Wales.
The 2024-25 draft budget presents the most stark and painful choices for Wales in the whole of the devolution era. We’ve now had more than a decade of austerity, followed by economic mismanagement by the UK Government, who have failed to provide an adequate funding settlement for Wales – the budget is now worth £1.3bn less in real terms than when it was set in 2021. The settlement does not reflect the extreme pressures on services caused by rising demand – persistently high inflation, unfunded public sector pay increases and higher energy bills. As a consequence, the Welsh Government has had to take some really difficult decisions to radically reshape the budget in order to focus funding on the services that matter most to people and have the biggest impact on our lives.
As the winter weather persists with all that brings, it’s worth remembering that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is offering drop-in vaccinations for Covid as well as for flu, as they are both circulating at the same time, so if you’re eligible and haven’t received a vaccination yet, you can drop in to one of the clinics available on their website at www.bcuhb.nhs.wales/covid-19/drop-in-for-your-covid-19-autumn-booster-and-flu-vaccine-now/flintshire. Also, spreading some more cheer after Christmas, Flint Town Council has announced that the Town Hall is now a hub for Can Cook/Well-Fed. The scheme – called Real Meals on Wheels – offers residents the chance to order meals and collect them on a weekly basis. More details on the scheme can be found at www.cancook.co.uk – alongside other services and support the organisation provides in communities across the county.
Finally, the Welsh Government has launched a consultation in which people in Wales can help to shape proposals to modernise and improve animal welfare. The consultation is the first step in a process to create a national model for Wales, which would regulate standards and strengthen animal welfare across the nation. The consultation explores how animal activities – such as pet day care, pet groomers and dog play parks – are currently regulated and licensed in Wales and how these processes could be made better. The consultation will be open for 12 weeks, closing on March 1st – you can find further information at www.gov.wales/licensing-animal-welfare-establishments-activities-and-exhibits.
While a new year often brings with it many changes, what remains constant is my commitment to continue to serve constituents and our communities as your local Member of the Senedd and my team and I are always on hand should you need our help. It’s worth noting that my website – www.hannahblythyn.cymru – has a lot of helpful information for residents as well as updates on what I’ve been up to and the issues which matter to you. If you’re struggling with the cost of living, there’s a helpful guide on there which details all the help available for food, fuel and energy – it’s difficult to know where to start with all the schemes available, but take a look at www.hannahblythyn.cymru/help-with-the-cost-of-living for advice.
As always, if you would like advice and/or support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on any of the following contact details – 52 High Street, Mold, Flintshire, on 01352 753464 or by email email@example.com. You can also keep up to date via my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/HannahBlythynForDelyn. Constituents are, of course, welcome to contact my office to arrange an appointment to see me, you don’t need to wait until an advice surgery.