The State of the State
Devolution in Wales continues to gather pace and maturity, with the Welsh Government beginning to exercise its new tax and borrowing powers and the Assembly asserting its democratic primacy. From May 2020, the Assembly has been known as Senedd Cymru: the Welsh Parliament.
Our interviews with key figures found the Welsh public sector proud of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the quotes show. They talked with passion about rapid support put in place for vulnerable people, an acceleration of digital transformation and a shift to more agile and remote working.
Wales stands out in its approach to the pandemic’s legacy on remote working. While the UK’s other governments continue to explore whether greater remote working may or may not be desirable in the longer term, the First Minister in Wales has been clear that the Welsh public sector should take a serious look at its potential. And while local and central government officials in other parts of the UK air concerns that commuters are no longer spending money in city centres, their counterparts in Wales are clear that the country has different patterns of working life, in which remote workers are spending money in their towns and villages.
While public sector leaders in Wales may not readily refer to ‘levelling up’, they share a clear focus on tackling inequality alongside driving inclusive, local growth. Key figures told us that the COVID-19 pandemic had intensified existing inequalities – and that further devolution to Wales would make a fundamental difference to the state’s ability to tackle it.
Our citizen survey sets out the Welsh public’s views on the state and their priorities for improvement. Overall, their views in tax and spending are consistent with views over the border. A third of Welsh adults say they want public spending to be higher after the coronavirus pandemic – even if that means tax rises, as shown in Figure 25.
Our survey asked what the Welsh public believe could be better or worse in their area as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Figure 26 shows how the Welsh are the UK’s most optimistic nation for an uplift in community spirit, but many are concerned about opportunities for young people.
We also asked the Welsh public how they would spend a budget on local services, the local economy and local infrastructure. As the figure below shows, their priorities are broadly consistent with the UK average although the Welsh would invest more in health, social care and job opportunities.
Please use Regional Selection filter to choose Wales.
Finally, we asked the Welsh public about levels of satisfaction with their local economy, services and infrastructure – and whether they think they are better or worse than the rest of the UK. As the maps show, the Welsh are particularly happy about their local environment and safety from crime. However, they tend to see many other factors as worse than the rest of the UK and would particularly like to see improvements in job opportunities, local public transport and transport links to the rest of the country. Use the filter to select the public service and click on the map to view the results for each nation and region.