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Welsh troops take part in NATO exercise

Troops from Wales are among hundreds taking part in a NATO military training exercise currently going on in Poland.

Troops from 1st Batallion The Royal Welsh are working alongside others from the alliance to 'reassure' allies in Eastern Europe at a time of tensions involving Russia and Ukraine.

David Wood reports from Poland:

NHS Wales Employers 'pleased' with pay settlement

The organisations which make up the NHS in Wales say they are "pleased" that the uncertainty surrounding a pay dispute between workers and the Welsh Government has been "removed", and strike action has been avoided.

We welcome the decision by our TU partners to accept this pay deal. We are pleased that the uncertainty surrounding this issue has now been removed and further strike action, which would have caused considerable disruption to services, will now be avoided.

Throughout this whole process discussions have been positive and constructive on both sides. We now look forward to working with our trade union colleagues and staff to address the considerable challenge of providing the best quality services to patients and their families against a backdrop of increasingly constrained finances.

– Allison Williams, on behalf of NHS Wales Employers


NHS workers' unions welcome pay settlement

Unions representing NHS workers in Wales have welcomed the end of a pay dispute with the Welsh Government over pay, and the agreement to a new Wales-only deal.

The Royal College of Midwives described it "a fair pay offer", while UNISON said: "this agreement does not make up for the real term loss that NHS workers have suffered in recent years, but we hope we can build on this settlement in the future."

It has taken time to get to this point and the Welsh Government has taken a sensible and practical decision to end this pay dispute.

This is a good example of how unions and the Government through meaningful negotiation can produce the right result for the staff and, the right result for the people they care for.

We have fought for and delivered a fair pay offer for our members in Wales. We can now move forward and put our energy into working together to improve maternity services in Wales.

– Helen Rogers, Director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives

Taking strike action is always a last resort for our members. The settlement is an improvement on the previous offer and we welcome achieving the Living Wage for our lowest paid members.

This has been a difficult process for all involved, particularly given the challenging financial climate that we are in as a result of the UK Government's continued austerity programme.

Clearly this agreement does not make up for the real term loss that NHS workers have suffered in recent years, but we hope we can build on this settlement in the future.

– Dawn Bowden, UNISON Wales head of health

PM's comments mean underfunding will go on say Plaid

Plaid Cymru says Wales will continue to lose out after the Prime Minister told MPs that there is no reform 'on the horizon' for the Barnett Formula, which limits any change in the funding that the UK Treasury gives to the Welsh Government.

The Prime Minister's confirmation that the unfair Barnett Formula is here to stay proves that Westminster just isn't working for Wales. If Wales received the same money as Scotland per head, we would have £1.2bn more per year to radically improve our schools, hospitals, roads and railways.

– Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams

Euro aid spending approved

A detailed agreement between the Welsh Government and the European Commission has been reached on how £2 billion of European aid will be spent over the next seven years.

It's split between a regional development fund, worth about £1.1 billion and a smaller social fund, which supports skills development and helping people into work. Most of the development money will be spent on the European Commission's objectives, including research and innovation, the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises, renewables and energy efficiency,

But £252 million will be spent on transport, which the Welsh Government argued was also a priority for economic growth. The metro scheme to improve public transport in Cardiff and the Valleys will be a major beneficiary but the Commission has also agreed to some of the money being spent on road improvements to the A40 in west Wales and the A55 in the north.

Wales is the first to adopt programmes in the UK and indeed, it is a model for the rest of Europe's regions in terms of 'partnership in action'. Thanks to the tireless work and dedication - from ministerial level to the grassroots, we are able to launch these vital programmes for investments that will set Wales on the path to smart and green growth - connecting people, skills and jobs

– European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu

The EU is a unique partnership of nations working together for the benefit of their citizens, and as a pro-European Government we value the role of Wales in Europe and to the UK’s membership of the EU.

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM

Welsh Health Minister hails 'made-in-Wales' settlement

Wales' Health Minister has hailed the "made-in-Wales pay deal" over NHS workers' pay, which has meant strike action was avoided.

Some NHS staff in England and Northern Ireland will stage a second set of four-hour walkouts this coming Monday.

This two-year, made-in-Wales pay deal demonstrates our ongoing commitment to staff working in the NHS in these challenging financial times.

Our overriding priority has been – and continues to be – to maintain jobs at the frontline of NHS Wales against a backdrop of severe cuts to our budget.

This is an excellent example of working collaboratively and co-production and I am pleased that in Wales we have been able to avoid significant strike action by agreeing a mutual position – this is a credit to all parties.

– Mark Drakeford, Welsh Government Health Minister


NHS workers agree first Wales-only pay deal

Union leaders representing NHS workers in Wales have settled their pay dispute with the Welsh Government, by accepting a new two-year deal.

It is the first Wales-only pay deal for NHS staff, on negotiations that have been traditionally UK-wide, but some have questioned whether this will open the floodgates to other regional pay settlements.

Pay deals for NHS workers have previously been set at a UK level. Credit: PA

Included in the deal is a 1 per cent pay rise from next April, a cash payment of £187, and the living wage implemented for all directly-employed staff from 1 January 2015.

The pay settlement does not include doctors and dentists.

Members of the Unison union called off a planned strike earlier this month, after the Welsh Government improved its offer.

Your views - Should 16-year-olds be able to vote?

The National Assembly for Wales' Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler thinks 16-year-olds here should be allowed to vote - and has launched a six-month discussion on the subject.

Read More: Presiding Officer launches Votes@16 conversation

We've been asking what you think... should 16-year-olds be able to vote?

Of course they should - I was really impressed by some of the 16-17 year olds in Scotland in the run up to the referendum, let's have some of that here in Wales as well.

– Paul Williams

No, because until the bills start coming in you don't know the real world.

– Adam Brown

Well they can join the Army at 16 - mine did - so what's the problem?

– Annmarie Mitchell

We want to hear more of your views on this - should 16-year-olds in Wales be given the right to vote? Why, or why not?

Here's how you can get in touch...

Prime Minister rejects Wales funding change call

The Prime Minister has told MPs that change to the way that Wales is funded isn't 'on the horizon.' David Cameron said that the current arrangements will become less important as the Welsh Government gets more control over raising its own finances through taxes.

He was being questioned about the next steps for devolution by the chairs of committees in the House of Commons. Monmouth MP, David TC Davies, who chairs the Welsh Affairs committee, asked him if the so-called Barnett Formula will be scrapped.

You can see the Prime Minister's answer in the video below:

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