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‘The Welsh Government’s reputation for wasting public money is ever growing’ - Aled Roberts

2013 Rhagfyr 10 3:19 PM

In their debate this week, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Government to conduct a thorough review of all of its external spending to restore public confidence in the current funding and grants system.

In recent years, there has been a string of reports published by the Wales Audit Office which have highlighted significant failings in the governance arrangements and delivery of key public services.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Welsh Government to publish the monitoring regime currently in place in respect of its grant management policy and for it to report annually to the National Assembly on its outcomes.

Aled Roberts, who sits on the Assembly's Public Accounts Committee, said:

"Repeatedly we have seen reports published by the Wales Audit Office that have highlighted major problems in the delivery of key public services. Some of these reports have revealed practices which are nothing short of scandalous.

"The Welsh Labour Government's reputation for wasting public money is ever growing and this is undermining the public's confidence in the system. The people of Wales want and have a right to know that their taxes are being spent wisely.

"Time and time again reports have been published outlining Welsh Government failings over grant funding. This is a systemic problem that this inept Labour government seems incapable of putting right. It is disgraceful that, for example, an organisation as badly run as AWEMA was allowed to continue receiving millions of pounds of public money even after doubts had been raised over its practices. We still do not know why ministers thought it was acceptable for taxpayers' money to be thrown at an organisation that was not financially sound.

"The bizarre purchase of the River Lodge Hotel is yet another example of the Welsh Government wasting money. Clear legal advice had been given raising concerns regarding the purchase of the property, yet an enormous £1.6 million was blown on it. Again there were colossal failings with the process which allowed this deal to happen.

"We recently learnt Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board had little to no strategic plans in place, no workforce plans, and not even an organisation budget prior to 2010. Yet public money was still being channelled to this organisation which did not even have basic procedures in place.

"This trend of waste must be stopped. It is time the Welsh Labour Government accepted its past failings and conducted a thorough review of it its external spending to restore confidence in their ability to effectively manage the public purse".