|Gareth Bennett AM|
|Janet Finch-Saunders AM|
|Jenny Rathbone AM|
|John Griffiths AM||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Siân Gwenllian AM|
|David Cook||Policy Officer, Wales Council for Voluntary Action|
|Swyddog Polisi, Cyngor Gweithredu Gwirfoddol Cymru|
|Emma Williams||Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr—yr Is-adran Polisi Tai, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Deputy Director—Housing Policy Division, Welsh Government|
|Helen Kellaway||Cyfreithwraig, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Lawyer, Welsh Government|
|Huw Charles||Rheolwr y Bil, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Bill Manager, Welsh Government|
|John Gallanders||Cymdeithas Mudiadau Gwirfoddol Wrecsam|
|Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham|
|Judith Stone||Cyfarwyddwr Cynorthwyol Polisi—Partneriaethau ac Ymgysylltu, Cyngor Gweithredu Gwirfoddol Cymru|
|Assistant Director of Policy—Partnerships and Engagement, Wales Council for Voluntary Action|
|Robert Smith||Cyfarwyddwr Ardal y Dwyrain, Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Prifysgol Betsi Cadwaladr|
|Area Director—East, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board|
|Sally Baxter||Cyfarwyddwr Strategaeth Dros Dro, Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Prifysgol Betsi Cadwaladr|
|Acting Director of Strategy, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board|
|Sarah Aitken||Cyfarwyddwr Iechyd y Cyhoedd, Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Aneurin Bevan|
|Director of Public Health, Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board|
|Sarah Jennings||Cyfarwyddwr Partneriaethau a Gwasanaethau Corfforaethol, Bwrdd Iechyd Lleol Hywel Dda|
|Director of Partnerships and Corporate Services, Hywel Dda University Health Board|
|Sheila Hendrickson-Brown||Cyngor Trydydd Sector Caerdydd|
|Cardiff Third Sector Council|
|Sue Leonard||Cymdeithas Gwasanaethau Gwirfoddol Sir Benfro|
|Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services|
|Chloe Davies||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Stephen Davies||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|3. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau||3. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest|
|4. Ymchwiliad i Fyrddau Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 4||4. Inquiry into Public Services Boards: Evidence Session 4|
|5. Ymchwiliad i Fyrddau Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 5||5. Inquiry into Public Services Boards: Evidence Session 5|
|6. Papurau i'w Nodi||6. Papers to Note|
|7. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) i Wahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod||7. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to Resolve to Exclude the public from the Remainder of the Meeting|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Dechreuodd rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod am 10:30.
The public part of the meeting began at 10:30.
Okay, everyone, welcome to this public part of our meeting today of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee. The first item for us is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. We've received apologies from Bethan Sayed, Rhianon Passmore and Jack Sargeant. Are there any declarations of interest? No.
We move on, then, to item 4, which is a continuation of the committee's inquiry into public services boards and our evidence session 4. I'm very pleased to say that we're joined today by Sarah Aitken, director of public health, Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board and Sarah Jennings, director of partnerships and corporate services, Hywel Dda Local Health Board; and by video-conference from north Wales, Rob Smith, area director east for Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board and Sally Baxter, acting director of strategy, Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board. So, welcome to all of you here with us in Cardiff and by video link from north Wales.
Perhaps I might begin, then, by asking the first question or two, and firstly ask whether the current structure of public services boards is sufficiently robust and sustainable to serve into the future. Who would like to give an initial view on that, please? Sarah?
It looks like I've been nominated. We had a brief conversation earlier. I've been involved in local service boards for a decade across the whole of the three counties in Hywel Dda in the west, and I've seen them transition from that local service board into the public services board, so I think it's been a real maturing process and you can see that it's got a different feel to it now that they're statutory. Are they robust? I think, from our perspective, the conversations we have in them are incredibly challenging to one another. Because of that long history of working together, the quality of the relationships is so good that we can disagree, debate and challenge one another and still remain as a partnership in all of those three.
We have our first regional public services board conference on 26 June and I think that's emerged because, for some public bodies, not the local authorities, servicing three can be quite a burden, and making sure that all three are aligned all the time is a level of complexity that's not beyond us, but it actually means there's quite a lot of energy needed on that, so we're trying, at regional conference, to see if we can do some things that all PSBs would do together, leaving the actual local PSBs to be able to focus on just what is unique about that particular geographical location. So, there's an appetite for change, an appetite to make this work, and we're just trying out different things to say, 'What really does allow us to deliver, at pace, on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015's expectations of us?'
It will, and we're also inviting Powys, because we understand that our police are on a Dyfed-Powys footprint, so we're trying that. We've got an agenda that we've all agreed and that we think are things that are really common to all, and we will see how that goes and we're really hoping that we'll have more of those, and that maybe we can find an interplay between local PSBs and regional. Some of us as partners would prefer a regional footprint because it's easier for us, but I think we've got to think about what works best for the agenda.
But you will be looking at what might be better delivered at a regional level and what might be best left to a more local level.
And obviously what aligns to regional partnership boards and other governance structures. The debate, I think, is constantly going to be: what do we need to do best with regional planning, and what do we do best with local delivery and local planning? I suppose I'm confident that those conversations are going on constantly, so I think whatever we do come up with will change, but it will be—we'll make it sustainable, because there's an appetite to do so.
I suggested that Sarah went first because we had had a bit of a conversation, and it's similar. I think in the Gwent area we've got five PSBs, and there is a balance between the richness of the understanding of the issues at community level that has emerged through the much greater emphasis on the voice of the public in informing the well-being plans. I feel, again having been doing this a long time, that we've got a much greater sense of the public voice than we've had in the past at a very local level.
But through that community-up process we have identified a number—. Most of the well-being plans are pretty similar across Gwent. We have had a Gwent analytical group, so we've had the strategic assessment group, and they've been actively looking for the Gwent-wide themes. So, in the evidence that we submitted, we did actually put in paragraph 13 the list of things that have emerged, and the most live one of those is the adverse childhood experience priority, which has emerged through all the PSBs as a priority, and the police have got funding from the Home Office transformation fund to lead a piece of work developing an ACE-aware workforce. So, that has brought us up exactly against the issue of: what's the governance arrangement for doing that across several PSBs, having identified it as a priority in all five? It also brings us to the alignment with the regional partnership board for health and social care, because an adverse childhood experience is both about the community the children and families live in—the community safety element—but it's also about how we provide services to vulnerable children, which is the business of the regional partnership board. So that particular priority has brought us to need to find solutions to the issues.
Have you found those solutions yet, then, Sarah, or is that work in progress?
It is work in progress. There's more than one option, and I think that's where Gwent is. I was at Newport PSB yesterday, and I think that's where we are. There's more than one way of doing it, because there's a recognition that some things—. As Sarah says, there's leadership at the Gwent level, chief executive and chair level, but then there's the depth of the understanding, and in Gwent the diversity of our communities means that there would be a danger if we just had a Gwent-level organisation that we would lose the difference between the Valleys and Newport and rural Monmouthshire.
Yes, but you're looking nonetheless, are you, to do some things on that wider level?
We definitely need some way of making decisions at a Gwent level.
Thank you, Chair. I think I'd reflect some of the issues that have been raised already in respect of that. I think establishing the PSBs on a statutory footing has helped in terms of the sharper focus on the work of PSBs. Sorry—can you hear me okay?
It is working. Thank you.
So, that has helped. We shouldn't need legislation to drive successful partnerships, but it does provide that sharper focus, I would say, around the Act and the constitution of PSBs. I think the point about the footprint is obviously an interesting one we've discussed in north Wales. We have six local authority partners in north Wales, and I'd echo the points that have been made around the need for layering the approach to what's appropriate. There are some areas where cross-working across north Wales is appropriate, but to undertake all of the work of the PSB at that level might, or probably would, lose the connections with local communities that the PSBs I think are about—that focus on health and well-being in local communities in the broadest sense.
So, where we've gone with PSBs, we have a number of areas where two PSBs have come together into a single public services board. So, in Gwynedd and Anglesey, they've combined into a single PSB, the same with Conwy and Denbighshire. Flintshire and Wrexham are still working as separate public services boards, but in discussing with Rob who sits on both of those boards, I think there's some successful working around that patch without necessarily the need for the form to come together. Is there something you want to add on that, Rob?
Yes, just a general point on sustainability. Compared to colleagues who've been working on the LSBs for 10 years, I remain a relative newcomer to this; I've only become involved during the transition, so I probably didn't see the best of the LSBs, I just saw the transition through to the PSBs. I remain tremendously impressed with the scale of ambition of what we're trying to do around partnership working between the different collective organisations involved. I think that commitment to make those improvements between the organisations involved is really marked, and I think that's what will make it sustainable as a programme.
Other than that, it's very early days in terms of where we are. We've put together the well-being plans and the structure for delivery going forward, and at this stage it feels like it's quite early to talk about how much of that is sustainable going forward. I think it's a platform to be able to achieve the improvements that are set out in the plan, but we've got to just keep a conscious eye in terms of that sustainability issue and make sure that that energy is sustained, with the support of all the Government agencies, to make sure we're taking that forward.
In terms of the footprint, I completely agree with Sally's comments about the balance between the broad Betsi and local authority PSBs, because obviously, at an administrative level, it's easier to work with one, but you miss that richness that is developed at a local level. And in terms of the real service improvements that we're seeing and benefits to the public and patients from our perspective, we're really seeing that happening at the local PSB level, rather than at the regional level where, really, the focus is on sustaining and developing a framework to be able to enable those improvements at more a local level. So, I think that's the way I would probably describe it.
Can I briefly add to that? Apologies. Can I add to that, Chair, just briefly around the structures and the joint working? Just to say that in our evidence we confirmed that there is a north Wales PSB officers network that brings together the support officers from the different partner agencies, and we've been working effectively as a group to share approaches, share resources, learning and knowledge. So, that's underpinned the work as well. And similar to colleagues, we've had events where representatives and stakeholders of PSBs across north Wales have come together, for example to help shape the needs assessment and understand the approach on that. So, I think there are areas we can build that cover the regional framework without losing the richness and the closeness with local communities that Rob's reflected.
Before I go on to the questions I was going to ask you—good morning—can you tell me—? In my own mind, you've got the regional partnership boards, and I'm just wondering whether regional public services boards working together—are we talking predominantly the same people here? Is there any duplication or are these totally different people? Because there's a lot of confusion out there. That's question No. 1 on that. And No. 2 is: in terms of transparency and accountability, do you publish the minutes of the regional partnership board and your regional public services board?
If I could take those. The legislation for public services boards specifies the core membership as the local authority leader and chief executive, the health board chair and chief executive, Natural Resources Wales and fire and rescue. The social services and well-being Act, which is the legislation for the regional partnership boards for health and social care, specifies the membership as cabinet member and director of social services and the health board.
You can understand the confusion. Not so much for us as politicians; I'm thinking about the wider public.
The health board finds itself as the only core member of both. Aneurin Bevan health board has a board sub-committee. So, to answer your second question, yes, all of those minutes are made public through our public board meetings.
Is that the partnership board or the regional public services board?
We have a board sub-committee that oversees the health board's element of all of that, but sitting around that committee table, it's become increasingly evident that the common membership to both is the health board. Servicing five, we have different independent members and executives of the board on the public services boards. So, the only common member—. I'm on four PSBs and the regional partnership board. So, the common membership—. And the other is the county voluntary council. So, the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations finds itself on all of them as well. But, other than that, it's different membership. But I think your point about function is—. I'm public health, so the public services boards are about the place people live, the community and the environment, and the regional partnership board is about providing health and social care services to those who need them. So, if you think about possibly someone with dementia, where they live, and is it a dementia-friendly community, that would be at the public services board level, whereas the services they might need would come through the regional partnership board.
Just to confirm, in terms of the minutes, that they're all published. The regional partnership board minutes are published online on the website, as are the PSB minutes—published on their websites. So, they are publicly available. I believe the majority of our meetings are now held in public. I think that's an absolutely right distinction in terms of the roles and responsibilities of the different organisations: that the PSBs are about broader community, health, well-being and the environment, the place in which people live, and as people then move up the spectrum, if you like, of needing care and support, that's where the RPB territory comes into play. So, we're conceptualising it that way in our strategic work. I would agree it's confusing. We have discussions with our stakeholder reference group in the health board about the role and remit of the different partnerships. There is a challenge in having different sets of statutory partnerships with different governance frameworks, and I think it's our job to work with that and bring that together and make it effective.
Do you think, moving forward, you'll be able to streamline that process, perhaps?
That's why I referred back to the legislation. We are working within legislation that has set out two very different systems.
That's why we're here to scrutinise them, to see if they're working, if they are sustainable, and how we can perhaps make them better.
So, I think the evidence you're hearing is that at the local level people are finding ways of making it work, but the legislation is two separate bits of legislation.
Sorry, Janet, just before you go on, I think Siân Gwenllian wanted to come in on these points. Siân.
Jest i bigo fyny o'r pwynt olaf, mewn ffordd. Beth rydych chi'n ei ddweud ydy bod yna ddwy Ddeddf, ac felly mae yna ddau fwrdd. Ond mewn gwirionedd, oni fyddai'n gwneud mwy o synnwyr i ni fod efo'r gwaith strategol yn digwydd drwy lefel y PSB, a'r delivery wedyn, os ydych chi'n mynd i wneud gwahaniaeth, drwy'r bwrdd Rhan 9? A oes yna ffordd—ac rwy'n derbyn fod yna ddau ddarn o ddeddfwriaeth—o drio dod â nhw at ei gilydd? A ydy o'n gwneud synnwyr, beth rwy'n ei awgrymu, ac a oes pwrpas trio gweld os oes yna ffordd o'i wneud o fel yna, jest er mwyn ei wneud o'n fwy—bod y ddau beth yn alinio â'i gilydd yn well?
It's just picking up from that final point that you made. What you're saying is that there are two Acts, and so there are two boards. But really, would it not make more sense for us to have the strategic work taking place at the PSB level, and the delivery, then, if you are going to make a difference, happening through the Part 9 board? Is there a way—and I do accept that we're talking about two pieces of legislation—of reconciling them or bringing them together? Does what I'm suggesting make sense, and is there a point in looking at whether we can do this in this manner, just so that the two things align together better?
Rwy'n gallu siarad Cymraeg,
I can speak Welsh,
but better in English for today. You're talking about regional partnerships and PSBs, which are only two elements of the complex governance structures that health, local government and others work in. There are layers upon layers of complexity and I do think we are at one of those moments in time, which is why I think this committee's recommendations are going to be critical—. You know, we have 'A Healthier Wales' coming out, we have a lot of drivers and energy and enthusiasm, and an opportunity to streamline some of that complexity. So, we need to bring health service governance, local authority governance, Public Health Wales governance, police, and the other statutory bodies, together. But the positive thing is there does seem to be a real appetite to want to do that, and to simplify where possible, and to filter out what should be done regionally. So, actually, the PSBs agenda is more of a regional one, but the regional partnership board also is absolutely critical for different local authorities and health to link their services, to have a set of shared outcomes that are consistent and fair for our whole population.
Underneath that, there's the opportunity to do things at a very local level that are responding to local neighbourhoods and localities. I think that's the position that all of us find ourselves in: trying to see the legislation coming down—which I think we all welcome—and making sense of it, in each of our different localities, geographies, cultures and communities, to make sure it really does make a difference for the services. So, I do think, in our part of the world, we would welcome local delivery that's at a very much lower level, a locality level, that feeds into something that's more regional, and that we separate out some of the agendas, and have common membership in some of those boards, to make sure that we're not having the same conversation with two sets of people and that we're having the conversation with one set of people. And that is the trick to weaving our way through this, and probably something we're very adept at locally, trying to weave things together. We're just at that time now, so I think that's why this is coming at a good time. But there's a lot more than just PSBs and RPBs to link together—there's a lot of health service governance, local government governance and scrutiny.
And in the meantime, if we are concentrating on all that structural high-level stuff, are we losing sight of the actual delivery and the ground-up approach? If we're focusing too much on, 'Oh, we need to sort all this out', we're forgetting about actually what we're trying to do at grass-roots level.
In the Gwent area, I think we've succeeded in allowing it to evolve organically. There have been conversations, going back several months, around the structural issues. But, as I've already said this morning, I have been advocating letting form follow function, and let's wait and see what the Gwent level issues are, and then work out how we have a structure that takes those forward, for that very reason, really. So, I think what we've got—. So, there's the regional partnership board, which is health and social care, and below that, at local authority footprint, we've got an integrated partnership board. And then below that, in Aneurin Bevan, we've got, at the population level of 30,0000 to 50,000, neighbourhood care networks, which are—. In the primary care strategy language, it's clusters of GP practices, but our model has got them with a much wider collection of partners. So, I think, at that level, we've probably got most of the right people in that network, focusing on delivery at a very local level. But, above that, we've got two separate mechanisms, with two bits of legislation.
Sarah, just on that, what you're telling us, really, is that you're finding a way to make things work, to join up, and to deal with different aspects of delivery, at different levels of geography, but maybe the legislation doesn't always help. And, in particular, those two pieces of legislation, do you think, weren't perhaps sufficiently joined up. Is that what you're saying, or not?
What would be helpful would be clarification about the expected formal relationship between them. So, we have two bits of legislation and two sets of regulations. The 'A Healthier Wales' plan, which was published on Monday, clearly talks about them working together, which is absolutely what they need to do. So, I think the answer to the question that's been asked in different ways is that we're finding ways of doing it, but something that might set out expectations about the formal relationship would be helpful.
Yes, I think I would agree with that, with the tone of comments, and I think there was a comment before around the table about the importance of maintaining the integrity of the local working. We're finding that there isn't—. There aren't, on a practical level, that many themes that can't be developed at a local level, but they need to have somewhere to go, and, at the moment, that lack of clarity between the remit of the PSBs and the RPB means that that natural channel of accountability isn't there. I think, if that could be resolved, that would be a practical solution that would be very helpful. I think, as the tone of the conversation is going, people are working around that, but, if it heads in slightly the wrong direction, there is a danger that the two agendas almost compete with each other in terms of where's the strongest in terms of partnership. I don't think that is happening because we're working around it, but I think that, if there was a more formal link, that would just strengthen the whole of the governance architecture around partnership working.
If I may add to that as well, where our PSBs have been taking and presenting to the RPB, through the RPB route, the assessments of well-being for local communities, the plans that have been developed—so, discussions around the commonality and where we can add value and different partnerships have been taking place. So, it's not an ideal fit all the time, but both sets of partnerships are working hard to try and resolve that.
There is the added layer around that for me that might be worth mentioning: seeing the rest of national guidance, policy strategy and legislation aligning in a similar direction is helping. So, as an example, Planning Policy Wales, which deals with spatial planning, growth, local development planning, has just been revised and consulted upon and is beginning to align very much in terms of the well-being agenda, and having that consistency across all the different governmental agendas will, I think, help drive the work in the same direction.
I will go on to my questions, honest, Chairman. A final point on that: in your day jobs, in terms of working for the health board or working for those other people who work for the local authorities, you have to deliver, you have to have your strategic plans and you have to finance things, and then you have to have your outcomes and your delivery. Is there a lot of, if you like, top-down structure coming from Welsh Government in terms of the additional legislation of the two tiers? You said that you're on four PSBs and a regional board, that to me seems a lot of time out from your main work, working within that level. How does that—? Is there any contradiction in terms in what you're doing in your role working within—?
Healthcare can only address about 20 per cent of the determinants of health and well-being. Eighty per cent of it is the social determinants of health and that is the world of public services boards. So, for me, the legislation has enabled me to influence beyond the scope of the health board. So, I wouldn't consider it to be outwith my day job—I think it is my day job.
I think, clearly, if it were simpler, the meeting time would be reduced—. But, as I've said a number of times, I have really welcomed the local nature of understanding the needs of communities, because it is very diverse. I've chosen to practice public health in Gwent for most of my career because it is a very diverse place. So, I would have a concern that, if everything operated at the Gwent level, we would lose that.
Janet, I'm just going to—. I think we've covered a lot of ground, so I'm just going to ask one question, which I think covers all of what we haven't perhaps quite touched on, which is that the third sector—we'll hear from the third sector later—and Third Sector Support Wales, the umbrella organisation, feel that the culture of PSBs feels like a local authority-owned agenda and that maybe the culture is different in those PSBs chaired by a partner organisation. What would be your views on that? Do you think there's strength in that view?
I'm happy to start with that, because I feel passionate about this.
So, on the three PSBs, it used to be—. The local authority has the statutory lead for the PSB in terms of secretariat. Two of our three have non-local authority chairs: one who is from further education and higher education, and one from the national park, with the vice-chair being from the third sector, the CVC. That has signalled that there is a change in culture and, actually, they have a very different flavour. It feels like it is a set of equal partners around the table. So, ours don't feel like it is local authority-led. They're all different and they have different sorts of feels. One probably still does feel quite local authority culture-driven, but I think our third sector—maybe it's just our unique part of the world—has strong third sector leadership and, therefore, they use their voice carefully, wisely, and they have huge influence on the work of the PSB.
They are also federating into a regional hub, so that they are more effective as a—. So, one CVC can represent all three at any regional forum, and they are taken very seriously and they have a strong voice. So, I've seen that develop over time. I know it may not be the same across Wales, but one of our vice-chairs is a CVC chief exec and they lead projects, they challenge robustly, and, to be honest, they carry a lot of weight.
But the only thing I would say is that if a local authority isn't in the chair then you sometimes get a less senior representative. I suppose that's a concern I have, that PSBs, when they start to make great strides in doing things, then attract chief exec level attendance. If they're not seen that way, then you get less and less senior people attending, and then they're less effective because they don't come with delegated authority. So, for the health board, we've made a commitment that we will not just deliver the well-being of future generations Act, but embrace the spirit of it. So, our chair, chief exec, director of public health and I go to the PSB, but I will go with full delegated authority from the chief exec and chair on decision making. I don't think the local authorities can always do that. But, no, third sector in our part of the world are very strong.
Okay. Any other views? We haven't got a great deal of time. Anybody want to add anything particularly? Yes?
Just briefly, I think that, in terms of developing that equal partnership, that's been a very firm focus in the PSBs in north Wales as well. I think we probably need to recognise that, from the establishment of PSBs, third sector were not included, of course, as one of the four core partners, and I'm aware there were some discussions at the start of the establishment process about perhaps a feeling of inequity in that. I think each of the PSBs has taken great pains to make sure that those relationships feel equal and that their third sector are equal partners around the table.
In north Wales, our health board, our area directors, have chaired the public services boards, so it hasn't been local authority-chaired and led. I think that, in terms of some of the administrative support, that's perhaps fallen more to local authority colleagues, which is probably carried forward from LSB days and is something I'm sure they'd want to talk with us further about as we develop and mature relationships.
I've been anticipating this question. The PSBs in Gwent are all chaired, mainly, by the leader, but they don't feel local authority-dominated; they feel local authority-led. So, there's been very much a culture of equal voices and everybody working collaboratively together. But I would echo the concern that, if you haven't got that local government leadership present around the table, you wouldn't have the same effectiveness of the PSB.
Okay. Well, that's very useful. Okay, and we move on to Gareth Bennett.
Thanks. In terms of how the PSBs work, you've got things like the regional partnership boards, and you've also got city deals. How do they work regarding those structures?
I guess we've obviously covered a lot of this ground, so it's only really if there's anything additional any of you would like to—. Not really?
Just that we also sit on the city deals and make sure that those projects feed into each of those different partnerships. So, there may be clear governance of decision making in the city deal on projects, but that is reported into the PSB or RPB depending on whether they need to know, depending on the projects.
And just possibly a plea to add is that it isn't perfect at the moment, but sometimes things—it's the art of the possible, and in terms of—. We're making the structure as it is work, and wholesale change from that—I don't know if that's even been suggested—obviously, that would potentially set things back quite a long way. So, it would be good if there were some improvements that would lead to more linkage in the way we've just described, but I think there are risks in changing the tiller too much when we're really just at the starting point of making some progress on the PSBs. So, it's just a word of caution in there in terms of any potential changes.
Only to echo that the common membership of PSBs and the city deal means that I think the alignment is definitely there.
In north Wales, we did have—. It was queried last week—. Are there many talks going on between PSBs and the north Wales economic ambition board and the growth deal?
Yes. There's certainly recognition of the shared agenda and they've been looking at shared priorities and linkages—whether it's as strong as it could be. I think we'd need to work further on that. But, certainly, the leadership in local authorities is very linked into the north Wales economic ambition board, and the north Wales leadership forum has oversight of that and has links into PSBs. So, it's bringing the agenda together, making sure the priorities work in the same direction and making sure that people share that information and use the links that we have between different partnerships to make that effective I think is important.
I want to briefly discuss the scrutiny arrangements of PSBs and identify how effective they are. Currently, that's the responsibility of individual local authorities, and I just wondered how effective they are at understanding this broader agenda and whether they've made any amendments to their scrutiny arrangements to capture the collaborative partnership arrangements that PSBs represent. Shall we start with Betsi, just because it's more difficult for them to butt in?
[Laughter.] Thank you, yes. I'm not aware of any particular difficulties in the relationship with scrutiny committees. Our senior leaders, the area directors, do have good relationships with the scrutiny committees in the local authority area as well and link in. So, again, there's a shared agenda, there's the sharing of information, good communication between the two, I would say.
Yes, I would agree with that. It's funny you came to us first as one of the less prepared with something to say but, actually, I think they are helpful in terms of sharing the message in terms of—. In my personal experience of working with them, and I'm directly involved in Wrexham and Flintshire, they're actually quite useful in the sharing of the PSBs broader within the local authorities than might otherwise be the case. Everyone's busy with their own agenda and their own portfolio within the local authorities, and it's felt to me that the scrutiny committee has been quite a good way of broadening the knowledge and the awareness of what's happening within the PSB. So, that's felt very positive in terms of that relationship with the PSB. It's early days with it, and that's obviously evolving in terms of how that's working.
I'm sorry, we didn't catch that.
So, do you feel they're holding you to account? Your collar is being felt, yes.
They are operating as accountability structures in the same way as the other scrutiny committees. The point I was making is it's more of a nuanced thing because the health scrutiny committees have been going obviously for a long time, and people have grown into the roles and understanding of how that relationship works. I think the scrutiny of the PSBs is obviously newer, and I think it's more of a two-way relationship, from the ones that I've seen. So, they are holding us to account, but there is also more of an issue about learning about what's happening in the PSBs and sharing information about what's happening. So, it's more of a fluid situation, but, yes, that accountability is definitely there.
Chair, if I may, I was going to add a word about the health board process as well. I think it was referred to in the evidence that we submitted that we've routed information, feedback, challenge around both the PSBs and the RPB through our strategy partnerships and population health committee. So, we do bring updates on the work of the PSBs through that committee and, in terms of, for example, the assessments and the well-being plan, each of the PSBs took part in a workshop with that committee to test and challenge the content of that, which was very useful in terms of aligning with where the health board is going, and also raising awareness in the health board of the broader agenda that's there.
Thank you for mentioning that, yes. I can see that that is in your evidence. Should we turn now to the situation in—?
So, I think one of the things that is noticeably different with this legislation is the stronger role of scrutiny committees and the explicit legal accountability. So, during the process of developing the well-being assessments and the well-being plans as set out in the legislation, they have been reviewed by the scrutiny committees at fairly frequent intervals, so I would say that it has been noticeable, the involvement of scrutiny committees. To answer your question, yes, I think certainly a number of the local authorities in Gwent have had to create amalgamated scrutiny committees, and I think they've done it in slightly different ways, and one option being that you bring together the chairs of the other committees to create a committee that can look across the breadth of the PSB. But they definitely are holding the PSB to account in all of the local authority areas. But, similarly, the health board has got a board sub-committee that has very clear governance for this area of work, and a number of reports go through that committee as well, as do all of the minutes from the public services boards and the regional partnership board.
It's slightly different, I think. I think there is that scrutiny from the local authority scrutiny committees, but we have always been very open and gone to them on not just PSB matters but on all health matters. So, we attend regularly to all three local authorities. I would say the heat I feel most is from my own organisation through our own governance, where the grilling is absolutely more challenging about outcomes, impact, and, if we're spending all this time there, what difference is it making to our population and to everything else. So, I find that is more rigorous. I think that going to the local authority scrutiny committees—I think it's earlier days for us on what that means. We used to have joint local authority and community health council—our watchdog body—meetings, and those were more challenging. So, I think there's probably some way to go in our area on the scrutiny committees being the most difficult place to feel scrutinised. And we should feel scrutinised. But we do go to full council regularly and have full council scrutiny of everything the health board does, including PSBs.
Yes. On that point, that's more in your capacity as a member working for the health board as opposed to the PSB, though, isn't it?
Yes, but there is an overlap. So, we go to full council—the chair and chief exec and my level—to be questioned about all the integrated work we do, including PSBs, at full council. Those questions tend to be more challenging than the ones the scrutiny committee does, but they do do them, and we do do the same, but we get more scrutiny than just the scrutiny committees.
Okay. Can I just ask: how often, on a scrutiny committee agenda for a local authority, would public services boards be on an agenda, do you know? How often are you scrutinised, per year?
So, the arrangements are by local authority, so they wouldn't all be exactly the same, but the—
—that that regional one, in particular, would cover, or the local one.
Well, because the public services boards are at local authority level and the legislation requires scrutiny at local authority level—. So, the frequency, up until now, has more reflected the timelines set out in the Act in terms of, 'You have to have a well-being assessment by—'
But, to scrutinise, you have to be on an agenda so that the members of the local authority on the scrutiny committee can meet to discuss. Do you know how often they go on the agendas?
Well, my experience is that they tend to be special meetings, because of the breadth of—
It's certainly more than one. But it has been more—. There have been dates in the Act where you have to have done things by, and the scrutiny committee so far have met in order to scrutinise that that bit of the legislation has been met. We're now past—. It was only May this year that PSBs had to publish their well-being plans, so we're only at the beginning of delivery of them. So, the normal rhythm—. We haven't had a normal rhythm.
Okay. Sorry, we're going to have to move on, because we've got 14 minutes left and a lot to cover. Jenny.
Okay. The well-being of future generations Act requires all 46 public bodies to work differently: integrated, collaborative, looking to the long term. So, I'm keen to get an idea of how you have changed your working practices in order to enable the public services board agenda to fly.
You alluded there to the five ways of working specified in the Act. I think, the more we become familiar with the Act, the more important those become, because, if all organisations adopt those five ways of working, it will naturally lead us to be collaborative and integrate and involve the public, and there is a duty on all of the public bodies to demonstrate how they are evidencing those five ways of working. So, they underpin everything, and, in our area, south Wales fire and rescue have been common to all of the PSBs in the Gwent area and Cardiff and Vale. They're new to the partnership table and they have embraced the Act with enthusiasm and have been very challenging to those who may have been around former partnerships to say, 'Well, how is it going to be different?' So, two key things. One is: how do we think as one public sector? That conversation happens more and more at PSB meetings. And, also, how do we work as one public sector for the benefit of the communities we serve rather than the benefit of our own organisation? As has been said earlier, the challenge around the table to think differently has been very real, and the other partner who hasn't been there before is Natural Resources Wales, and, for those of us who work in the care sector, where it's about services to individuals, having Natural Resources Wales around the table, talking very much about the environment and sustainability, has been a different voice. So, I think it is a different set of partners, it's a different way of thinking, and the more people are, I would say, practice-led, the more it becomes the way we do business.
So, I mean, with Hywel Dda you've got a regional co-ordinator, which is a different way of looking at it. How sustainable do you think that is, moving forward?
So, I was just going to add two examples rather than repeat. So, I think that regional co-ordinator has been really helpful. So, the three PSBs coming together and saying, 'We have one regional co-ordinator, one single approach to the needs assessment', that means there is a completely consistent read-across to the way that we gather data, analyse it and use it, but a local flavour. So, we've retained local flavour. And I think the second thing is we engaged collaboratively and we continue to do that, so, going forward—so, Hywel Dda at the moment are in the middle of the biggest consultation on health and social care ever in the UK. We will never do that again alone. We're not doing it alone now: Welsh ambulance are there, social services at there with us, fire and rescue have come along with us. So, we've engaged about the well-being plans collaboratively, brought our teams together, done it once together, shared expertise and learning, and we'll never put that back in the box. That's now going to be the way we will do things, and the third sector have had—I think that's where they've come to the fore. They are connected with community groups in a way that none of our statutory organisations can—. So, the partnership of doing things together in engagement, communications, launching simultaneously, making sure we know who's launching what when and we don't launch one thing on a Monday and, on a Wednesday, something almost similar. Those have been different ways of working that I think have strengthened our single public sector unity and helped the public not be confused.
So, I think those are two examples. There are many more. There are lots of people now—fire and rescue will go into people's homes and represent us as a set of public bodies to frail, vulnerable people, and so you're not having visitors from three or four agencies, you're having one who can help be your care co-ordinator. So, there are some very innovative things being done that I don't think will be undone; I think they'll just become the way we work. So, that's been the inspiring bit, I think.
I would agree—
Betsi, you mentioned your Living Healthier, Staying Well strategy, and you think it's going to be a challenge to continue to cover the different well-being plans of the different services boards. I wondered if you could say a little bit more about how you're changing the way you operate in order to embrace that more integrated approach.
Shall I start and then—? Absolutely. We think there is a tension in developing strategy for the health board that is a health board strategy, not a full partnership strategy. What we're keen do—. There are many elements in that strategy that are partnership based and have been developed in an integrated way and built on the involvement of service users, carers, people with lived experience. I think that is developing well. We have more work to do and we'll be having discussions about developing that partnership agenda for the whole of the strategic direction for the health board with partners, as we move forward now. So, we're very much building on that, taking it forward with the partnership work.
I think I also referred to the fact that public services board priorities and agendas are consistent with our strategy, as well. There's nothing that's divergent, but there are different local flavours, and what we need to do is ensure that we're able to work with all of those to deliver them effectively. So, I think, in terms of the five ways of working around integration and partnerships, collaboration, involvement, there's good working developing. I'd echo the point about new partners round the table. I think Natural Resources Wales have really brought something additional into the working now, and we're talking and working with colleagues in Natural Resources Wales around our environmental sustainability approaches.
The one area where I think we've got more to do to develop in the health board, and I think probably in PSB work more generally, is around the longer term thinking of the five ways. In terms of forward projections and modelling and understanding demographic change, I think that's pretty well grounded; we understand and work to that. I think there's more development in terms of future scenario planning and how we can respond innovatively that we need to build on. I think that's probably a common experience for most public sector bodies. That challenge of thinking differently, to 10, 15, 25 years forward, predicting how society, community, the landscape, the environment will be and how we respond to that differently is challenging, particularly for ourselves where, as Members will be aware, we have delivery challenges. We need to get our short-term planning and delivery right, and it's a challenge for us in focusing then on the long term alongside that. That's one we're very aware of and working towards.
Okay, so, as senior officers, attending your PSBs, you presumably have delegated powers to make decisions, you haven't got to go back-and-forth, saying 'Oh, well, I have to go back and ask.' Is it your experience that other people representing other public organisations are also similarly empowered to make decisions there and then?
Yes. Yes, very much so. Also, we have executive members of the board allocated to the PSBs, as well, so just to make sure that, if there is any doubt about the decision-making ability, that there's support to the exec, a relevant exec, at the PSB as well.
Can I just make another comment as well, just in response to the question about how ambitious they are and how—? I think the essence of the question was about how confident we are that that ambition will be realised, going forward. Just to support one of the comments from one of the colleagues round the table, the right ingredients are in place now for that to be the case, because the right partnerships are around the table that see the right energy to be put into the development of the plans. So, the right foundations are there for that and—[Inaudible.]—going forward.
The only comment that I'd make that I think would be helpful to that delivery going forward and making sure that that ambition stays there is that the more that's it's locked into existing governance structures, the stronger that delivery is likely to be. You mentioned the scrutiny committees, which are a really important part of that and each of the respective health boards are an important element as well, for example, when the well-being plans were being developed, they've had quite a robust challenge in our board before being signed off by the PSB. There is a variety of different plans reflecting local priorities, and some are stronger in some areas and some are stronger in others, so there's going to be a challenge back to say, 'Actually, in some of them, can we see more ambition in these areas and more in others and reflect some consistency across the patch?' So, that's been helpful.
I think it's an example where, perhaps, going forward, it's going to be—. There are, in all organisations, a huge number of priorities that need to be delivered, and the more that the objectives and priorities for the PSBs can be reflected in the governance structures and objectives of each of the organisations, the more locked in and more sustainable those deliverables—that's management speak—the more confidence I think we can have collectively that we'll be able to deliver the things that we're expected to do with the PSBs.
Okay. That's great, thanks. I'm afraid we've got very little time left. I wonder if we could just move on to resources and capacity. Are there any major issues there for any of you in terms of where the balance of resource and capacity lies within the PSBs and where it should lie?
I think it builds on that last point around if this is the way we do business, then it's about how we use our core resource and one of the questions has been around: is there a budget and should there be a budget. Well, once you have a partnership focused on a grant, it's very easy to talk about the grant, and actually what the PSBs are doing is talking about how we use our core public sector allocation better by joining it up. So, I think the question about seniority is a really important one.
I'm maybe answering the last question, so apologies, but in terms of the long-term bit, all of the Gwent well-being plans have got a focus on the early years and adverse childhood experiences as being the foundations on which the well-being of future generations are laid, so I think that's an example of doing things differently. When we were looking for the PSB member sponsors for the priorities, a number of the PSBs tried having somebody for whom it wasn't their day job and that didn't really get much momentum, so we have ended up with people for whom it is their day job and they're now setting up working mechanisms where the other organisations are collaborating to help them do more with their day job.
Okay. It is, of course, a gift—[Inaudible.] Would you say that the same was true in Hywel Dda?
Yes. You raised earlier the regional co-ordinator—I think, without that individual stitching together people whose day job is that job, it would've been harder. As a health board, we've built in extra roles to make sure that we can deliver on that, so there is some extra resource needed, but not—
But if you can do things differently, you stop doing something else, yes?
Exactly. So, the majority of it is about senior level people doing things differently through this mechanism and collapsing other things, possibly.
Okay. Just one final question: to what extent do different priorities of the individual PSBs sometimes conflict with and impact on the health boards' own overall strategies and policies? Are there issues there?
The public bodies had to publish their own well-being objectives a year before the PSBs published their well-being plans. So, the health board had its set of 10 well-being objectives, of which we identified four that we could only take forward in partnership and those are the four that we've then taken into the PSBs as, 'This is what we want to see'. So, as was described in north Wales, we've had to work harder in some PSBs than others in terms of, 'These are our priorities and we'd like to see them reflected'. But it has come from our strategy and informed the development of the well-being plans.
We co-produced both and I think that has made them aligned, and therefore, no.
No. Okay. Well, thank you all very much for giving evidence to committee today. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy. Diolch yn fawr.
Okay, everyone. Welcome to committee. Thank you very much for coming along to give evidence today. We now move on to item 5 on the committee's agenda, and evidence session 4 regarding our inquiry into public services boards. I wonder if you might all introduce yourselves for the record, please, perhaps starting with Sheila.
I'm Sheila Hendrickson-Brown. I'm chief executive of Cardiff Third Sector Council.
I'm John Gallanders. I'm chief officer for AVOW, which is the county voluntary council for Wrexham.
Hi, I'm Sue Leonard. I'm chief officer of PAVS, which is the county voluntary council for Pembrokeshire.
I'm Judith Stone. I'm assistant director at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.
I'm Dave Cook. I'm policy officer at WCVA.
Thank you all very much. Okay. Perhaps I might begin, then, with the first question on, really, your experiences of engaging with public services boards across Wales, and whether you think the structure that we have for those public services boards is sufficiently robust and strong. Who would like to begin?
As far as county voluntary councils are concerned, there's a representative from each of the county voluntary councils on every PSB in Wales. There is a mix. I'm from north Wales, so in north Wales we only have four PSBs because we've got Anglesey and Gwynedd together and Denbighshire and Conwy together. So, there are clearly differences sometimes in the way that each individual county voluntary council may be working because of the cross-county targets that are there.
I think in terms of where we're at at the moment, I think we're still very much in the maturity stage, although it does feel like quite a time since we actually embarked on the development of well-being plans and the assessments etcetera. But I think crucially for the third sector it's very much going to be now around how we actually get an engagement to move forward through the development of action plans and how we as, in most cases, a neutral broker, if you like, for the third sector ensure that we can get the right level of engagement down into those community groups, down into grass roots and citizens where clearly there's a need for the level of engagement to be enhanced so that they do feel, from the smaller organisations' point of view, that there is some value in linking via the CVC into the PSBs. Because many community activities take place that hit a number of the targets for the well-being plans, but quite often they're operating in isolation, and because a lot of them are non-funded from statutory sources, statutory partners at times start to fully acknowledge the scale and the breadth of the third sector, which is where we believe one of the values is to the PSBs going forward.
We were having a conversation before coming in here, and I think one of the things that struck me was that despite the fact that PSBs have all come from the same root, they can be operating quite differently. So, your structure is one thing, the culture is another. So, I think you can have different representatives from different organisations sitting around the table, but in some PSBs it may feel that the culture is still very local authority-led and dominated. In other PSBs, where the numbers might look the same and the membership might look the same, the culture is different.
So, speaking from a Pembrokeshire PSB perspective, we do have two third sector representatives. There's me and Planed, a community development organisation, in Pembrokeshire, and I am vice-chair of the PSB, and Tegryn Jones from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is the chair. I think that signals just something different. We also, as an local service board, used to meet always in Pembrokeshire County Council county hall. Now, the meeting moves around the county—we use different venues. And I think these are important things. They're quite visible signs that this is not a local authority-led agenda. Actually, I was saying that, for me, in Pembrokeshire, I have almost the opposite—that I worry about the engagement of our elected members. I don't know that our elected members see the PSB as being an ally to them, as a strong partnership that can help deliver for the people of Pembrokeshire. I get the impression that they see us more as some kind of unelected quango, and that their main interest is one of scrutineer, not of partner, and I think that's problematic.
And then, just in terms of wider membership, we do actually have quite a wide membership in Pembrokeshire, but we're still—. We haven't had town and community councils represented at the PSB. I think we've agreed they are an important partner, and I think One Voice Wales will put a representative there. I think that's been a bit of a gap.
So, I think, yes, the structure probably looks quite similar, but I think when you look at each PSB and the way it's operating, the culture is quite different. So, that's a bit more of a difficult nut to crack.
Sure, So, it's not so much about membership and structure as culture, and sometimes there can be local authority domination, which isn't helpful, and at times there might be a lack of engagement from local authorities.
A lack of engagement from elected members. I think elected members maybe just don't understand quite how PSBs work, and we're not an elected—. So, I think it's just that, sort of, their needing to understand that PSBs are not a threat.
Sure. So, you could, in effect, Sue, have both things happening at the same time. There could be local authority domination in terms of the leadership, but at the same time a lack of engagement from the councillors who are not part of the executive.
There could be, I don't know. Sheila, you had a slightly different experience.
Yes, absolutely. I think the structure is very positive, and I think in terms of—. I'm obviously from Cardiff and a member of the Cardiff public services board, and the structure has been very enabling. There's been a real commitment to having a driver at a governance level to making changes. However, it is very public sector dominated, and there is an informal, almost tiering system, where the third sector is one of the less included partners often.
So, for me, the challenge is always about how we actually capitalise on the contribution that all of the partners can make to achieving the well-being plan, and that's not always as visible as it could be. And the opportunities sometimes—. For a long time, the third sector has been in this whole ethos of making sure that it's very engaged with local citizens at a grass-roots level. There's an understanding of need and services that are developed in response to those needs, whereas it's now a requirement for that to actually happen. We've got, basically, a partner that's already in there doing that, but that's not always as recognised as it could be, and so there's a sense, sometimes from our side, of frustration that we could really make a contribution and help to strengthen that, rather than building almost from the ground up and not necessarily drawing on that existing expertise and experience.
Talking from a broader third sector perspective, clearly the chief officers have explained their commitment in every local authority area to working with the PSBs, but I think the work and focus of PSBs to date has been quite bureaucratic. It's been developing their well-being plans, and I think the feedback that we have had from the third sector more broadly is that they feel very remote from the work of the PSBs, see it as quite a bureaucratic process and haven't really bought into that concept necessarily at this stage, because the work's been going on over there. CVCs have well-established networks locally and are developing those networks around the PSB structures, but I think now that we're moving towards the more action-orientated phase, the PSBs have developed their priorities, they're setting out work streams around specific areas of activity. For example, in Monmouthshire, the CVC there, the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations, are leading on a strand of work around volunteering; in Merthyr, they're leading on the loneliness and isolation strand, and we're hoping that those will be vehicles around which the broader third sector can engage and really start to understand better the work of the PSBs, and for the PSBs then to understand the sector's contribution to those areas as well.
One of my questions was to ask about whether you felt that it was a local authority-owned agenda, but I think you've covered that. How much do you think—? To what extent are the workload and responsibilities shared between the partners, and how is this facilitated in the Third Sector Support Wales's view?
In terms of workload, Judith has just said that the well-being plans have been developed. There's been a lot of work that's gone on around engagement and in developing that plan. But, now, in Pembrokeshire, we have got four key priorities, one of which is resourceful communities. There are eight key actions that have been identified. Three of those are under the resourceful communities heading. So, we have community participation, understanding our communities and meaningful community engagement, and PAVS and PLANED are leading on those three. So, we're carrying quite a big share of the delivery of the plan, and I think it, undoubtedly, is going to put some strain on our resources, because we haven't had any additional resource to be able to engage in this work. It is part of our remit, but we're also, as part of our remit, working with regional partnership boards as well, and other strategic partnerships. So, this is one of them. So, I think we do have a partnership support team—
Well, I think it's one person, probably—a full-time post that is shared across a couple of people—and they're local authority employed. And I think there is some funding that does come down to PSBs across the region.
I think it was £50,000 across a region, was it? I thought it was going to be £50,000 per PSB. I got quite excited, but for some reason, it was allocated at a regional level, whereas PSBs operate on a county footprint often, and there is a regional post that's associated with that.
Okay. I have a couple of questions and then we can move on. In terms of scrutiny and transparency, how often are you scrutinised by the local authority scrutiny committee, and, two, do you publish minutes of your public services boards?
On the scrutiny question, we'll actually come on to that later, Janet, but, yes, in terms of publishing.
Do you mean the CVCs, or—?
The public services board and the regional partnership board, for those of you who are on both.
Yes. There's a website for both of those within Cardiff, and—
Yes, indeed. And as part of our communication to the third sector, we advise when meetings are coming up and that things are under consideration, and then, in turn, link through to the papers on the website, so that's—
Absolutely. That's where the minutes are published, so that our membership can be aware of what's—
Thank you. We heard last week that some aren't, you see, so I wanted to query whether it's general—
There's a similar situation in Wrexham. There's a dedicated website, where all the partners have links to their own website on there, minutes are there, the well-being plans, all the assessment documents. So, from that point of view, it's there. Whether people are actually going to it is the other crucial thing.
It's easily accessible, but, again, it's around promoting that the information is there for people to go to it. And I think we've got a long way to go, as far as PSBs are concerned, to ensure that the community are embedded with the well-being plans going forward and are actually feeling that they've got a part in it. Because, if they don't feel a part of it, we can have the most amount of information going, readily available, but if there's no engagement—.
Can I just add to that? How we try to enable that is we use that as a point of reference for our member networks. We have different member networks, and we talk about things that are in the well-being plan, and the plans emerging from the public services board, and from the regional partnership board, depending on the theme of each of the networks, so that they're trying to promote that engagement, and facilitate it.
Yes. Just one other thing: you mentioned earlier, I think, Judith, that perhaps it's been a little bit bureaucratic up to now, but now that there's the movement into delivery phase, perhaps that will be rather different. So, I just wonder whether you might be reassured that, moving into delivery phase, the third sector would feel more involved, less distant from what's going on and what's being put in place. Would that be your expectation, or do you think there's something more that needs to be done to get across that distance that the third sector might feel from the working of the PSBs, and bring them more into the centre of their operation?
These guys are involved in the PSBs and will know more than me perhaps. But I get the impression that people are really interested in change and impact, and the incentive for engaging in what's seen as public sector work streams, people want to know that their contribution is going to make a difference. I work across the RPBs a bit as well and I think some of the third sector members who have been engaged in that work have started to move away from it, in terms of membership, because of the drain on their capacity, and because they haven't been seeing, to date, any impact or changes as a result of their contribution. And so their trustee boards are saying, 'Well, if you're not seeing any change, then this is not the best use of our resources', as resources are stretched.
Yes, that's those. So, I guess my concern is—
And is that the general experience with the regional partnership boards?
With the regional partnership boards, we're definitely getting feedback about the capacity, and certainly in terms of the fact that it's a taxing task—I don't know why I started trying to say that—to actually try and make sure that we're properly representative of the third sector. And so, to be able to do that fully, and fully engage with the agenda, rather than just more of a piecemeal and not properly committed approach, does take a lot of time and resources.
Yes, okay. So, that's the regional partnership boards. And the public services boards.
I guess I was making that analogy that people will put in time and effort if they see change resulting from their contributions. So, I think there's some deep engagement work to do with the sector, that they see the PSBs currently as quite bureaucratic, quite distant from their work, and now we're moving into more of an action phase, and we want people to engage, so we need to put that effort into making sure that they understand why they need to be engaged, what their expected contribution is, and what they expect the outcomes to be. So that is a depth of work for the CVCs to continue doing locally, I think.
If I may, I think there's, again, this opportunity to change. And I think there is a difficulty with the third sector just being regarded as a delivery arm, instead of being involved in the design at an earlier stage in the whole process. And so I think there's going to be a missed opportunity if we don't really integrate that into the way that we move forwards. But again that's going to involve capacity. And there's also trying to have that understanding that we're not necessarily trying to change what everybody's doing—more about ensuring that is relevant, and meeting the needs of communities, and is sufficiently community led, and driven by the needs within the community. So, the engagement is really about understanding which pathways and which opportunities there are for the third sector to actually, again, capitalise on what they're currently doing, and ensuring that that's actually meeting the needs that are now very much evidenced needs—with that evidence basis growing—and ensuring that there is that mix and match across. So, it's not about changing what people are doing, or necessarily trying to create a new picture of activities; it's more about seeing where the linkages are and making sure that those are properly understood, the opportunities are shared, and that the opportunities to help to shape that are also shared as well.
I think what we need to bear in mind as well is, with the third sector, people quite often think it's one homogenous group of organisations, but we've got to accept that there's a great deal of competition that actually exists out there. I always view it very much in a three-tier process: you've got the very small, community based organisations, completely unfunded by any public service support, but if you actually look at some of the things that they do, then you can actually marry that into the well-being plans, whether it be about social isolation, lonelieness—all kinds of things like that. Then you get the middle banding, which is the sector that's grown almost into the contracted type of services; and then you get the large, multinationals, almost, at the top. There's a huge amount of competition that is taking place between those categories, but I think, at the PSB level at the moment, there's an acknowledgement of the third sector organisations that are funded and have contracts, but there is not fully an understanding of the grass roots, which is where, if we're realistic around change occurring from the bottom up, a lot of it is going to occur.
Sometimes, relatively small amounts of funding—. Local lunch clubs, for instance: £500 would go a long way to keeping a lunch club going, even if it just pays the rent for 12 months. But in terms of fostering and generating community engagement and community ownership, that is one way in which, for a relatively small financial contribution, the PSB public sector members may then start acknowledging some of that grass-roots activity that goes on.
Okay, thank you very much for that. We'll move on then to Gareth Bennett.
Thanks. The PSBs have to work with regional organisations, like the regional partnership boards, also the city deals, so how well are those working relationships going, do you think? I don't know who wants to kick off. Do you want to kick off, Sue? You touched on this before, I think, a little bit.
The links are there, so I think there are some—. Obviously, a number of the representatives on the PSBs do cover more than one PSB and operate across the region, so the health board is a prime example there, and they're key partners in the regional partnership board as well. So, we've got shared—. I sit on the RPB, so there is some shared membership, and there is also a more formal link as well between the two partnership boards. We've done two pieces of work together—in parallel, at the same time, concurrently—so, we've had, obviously, the well-being assessment and the well-being plan; we've had a population assessment and an area plan. So, we've been trying to look at the community well-being with PSBs and maybe more of the individual well-being with the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
I think we've identified that the thing that binds those two Acts together is that whole bit about community resilience, resourcefulness, active citizenship and engagement. Those things run common across both Acts and they're fundamental to the success of the delivery of both Acts. So, I think that's where we'll see the commonality coming through. But they're resourced very differently.
So, there's quite a bit of money following through on the regional partnership board to support transformation. So, we've got the integrated care fund, the dementia fund and the delivering transformation grant, which I think is in the RSG now, but is still hypothecated. And we've got the recently announced transformation fund—so, lots of funding there, coming in via health boards, as the bankers, so, through RPBs. So, actually squeezing anything out for the third sector is always a challenge, but there's nothing really following through on PSBs to effect that same kind of transformation. So, there are links there, but, you know, the focus is slightly different, I think, in both. PSBs should really be drilling down, working very close to the citizen in communities. Regional partnership boards are looking at slightly broader—at people with particular conditions or with physical disabilities or learning disabilities across a wider population. So, I think the two things are differently focused, but they all rely on that foundation of community resilience.
I think one of the fundamentals of the PSB and RPB issues really was that, because they started at different times, with different time frames and different planning processes, I think there was a huge opportunity that's actually been missed to have brought those together. So, right from the very outset, the strategic planning, the strategic thinking, the membership and the activities all could have actually been drawn together from the outset, as opposed to now being retrospective.
I think, also, there are some key issues in relation to county boundaries. We've got a number of PSBs that operate over more than one county boundary. If we look at citizens, their lives actually cross more than one county boundary, but, for various reasons, counties operate sometimes too rigidly. And I know, in our particular case, Wrexham and Flintshire—. And I don't want to go into the discussion over Wrexham and Flintshire. I'll keep away from that one. We've got to be quite realistic. Service provision, when we get down to the activity side and what's actually going to be achieved in terms of change—very often, that change will be around a service that actually operates across more than one county. But, if you've got strategic planning that is county focused only, then that is going to cause some problems, and there will clearly be some tensions over how we get over that, because, if you have one PSB that's trying to create a change on a service that is over more than one county, but the dialogue is not there at a senior level at local authorities, it will become a barrier.
I just think that the timings were the key issue on that. The reporting mechanisms are different as well. When we're trying to draw things together, a more singular approach and reporting back to Welsh Government would have been an ideal way to go forward, I think.
I wanted first of all to ask about the way in which PSBs are scrutinised. Clearly, it is the statutory duty of local authorities to scrutinise public services boards, but how well have they adapted that activity to embracing the well-being of future generations Act to include the voice of the citizen, particularly around health issues? What is your experience so far of scrutiny?
I’m happy enough to start on that one, if you like. In the Wrexham area, the scrutiny committee within the local authority has been doing that now, probably, for the last 18 months to two years, because they were doing some scrutiny on the LSB before. I do have a personal issue, and I know some of the other members do as well, and that is why should we have a singular body that is actually scrutinising a multi-agency partnership. That's the starting point. Yes, there’s the statutory basis for that, but while everybody is effectively from a local authority councilmember background, the presenters, normally representatives from the PSB, would normally be the chair and one other member, plus the support officer. But I do think that we’ve got to really address the multi-agency approach to scrutiny. Otherwise, whilst the local authorities in certain instances are the lead on many elements, they're actually scrutinising themselves and not the PSB. There is a tendency that some issues may actually be sidelined, whereas if it was multi-agency scrutiny, some of those issues could have been looked at in more detail.
I think this is another example of where there’s differentiated experience across Wales, because again, we are regularly scrutinised as a PSB, but all members of the PSB are invited, and you are somewhat expected to attend. And there is definitely reference to the well-being Act, and we have been specifically asked questions in relation to that, not least being asked what the response of the PSB is to the future generations commissioner's recommendations arising from the Act. So, there is that accountability. So, it is seen as a shared responsibility. As I say, there is expected to be a broad representation and we are asked quite specifically around our well-being plans. So, there is that join-up.
Fine. Sue, earlier you mentioned that Merthyr has identified loneliness and Monmouth volunteering. If the scrutiny panel is looking at those things, do you ensure that the relevant voluntary voice is heard as to whether—? It's early days in terms of outcomes, but how are you going to ensure that voice of the public is there, relevant to those issues?
We do our best in terms of trying to influence the scrutiny process, but ultimately it is a matter for the elected members. They've done some work around well-being and they have talked to a lot of people, in fairness to them, including a number of third sector organisations. They set up a working group and they've looked at it in quite some depth as a precursor to that sort of report going to the scrutiny committee. So, they are trying to talk to people. But I agree with John; I always felt that when—. Certainly, there was strong feedback when the Act was first being developed, that scrutiny should be—. I felt that we should be supporting citizen scrutiny and it should be a citizens panel. You might argue that that's what elected members are because they are drawn from the community and they are elected, but politics does get in the way. So, I would have welcomed a different approach to scrutiny altogether. But, since we've got that approach, we are doing our best to make sure that it's as inclusive as possible. Ultimately, it is a matter for the elected members.
I suppose I'm thinking again about the RPB and some of the work that they're doing there around the Measuring the Mountain initiative, which is seeking to gain stories from citizens about their view of how services are being transformed and whether that might be an approach that might be adapted for the PSBs. I think that direct engagement with citizens feels a bit stronger. Obviously, it's about services, so it will naturally feel stronger, but that seems to be a good approach, whether it might be adapted locally.
Could I just mention one point? Recent communication has come from the future generations commissioner, having reviewed all the well-being plans. I think most people were actually taken aback, really, in terms of the depth of scrutiny that actually has come back in terms of that feedback. So, I think that is actually good to have that level of independence at arm's length, completely from the PSBs and the membership. It will be quite interesting at our PSB to actually go through that a later on this week to see how we're going to tackle what I think are some quite robust challenges that the commissioner has actually put down to PSBs on that.
And presumably, that's a good tool for voluntary and community sectors to continue to challenge the way that PSBs operate.
Thank you. I'd like to move on to the resource and capacity issues. One or two of you mentioned the TSSW paper, which talks about the lack of dedicated resource for PSBs. I think we've heard very strong evidence in the earlier panel that that would be a disaster if we started directly funding PSBs, because the whole point of PSBs is to get people to do things differently. So, that's not going to happen. But, I appreciate there may be some issues around specific ways of working the voluntary sector operates under, given that, as John said, you've got three layers of voluntary and citizen engagement. So, I wondered if you'd like to just make a start on how we can ensure that the voice of the voluntary community sector is there. Given that there aren't going to be dedicated budgets directly from the Welsh Government, it's more about how you get your public bodies, who are required to change, to ensure that they are guaranteeing that the voice of the citizen is heard appropriately, depending on what they are discussing.
Well, speaking personally, I'm very disappointed that it's been ruled out completely that there will be any dedicated funding made available for PSBs. I was really hoping that there would be something coming through to support the development of resourceful communities and active citizenship and that foundation that was so—
That's perfectly possible, but it won't come directly from Welsh Government. It's going to have to come from the public bodies themselves.
Yes, well, I'm heartened that evidence that you've had previously from those public bodies is that there's no need for dedicated resources. Certainly, in our PSB there's no sign of people putting money on the table or releasing their resources to do anything differently. But, if they are going to do that, then that's absolutely fine.
They're obliged to do things differently. That's what the well-being of future generations Act states.
Yes, they are obliged to. So, we'll see.
But, you know, it's about scrutiny, and your engagement in the PSBs is obviously going to change the discourse and the ways of working.
I think that one of the key issues for me, though, is in terms of—. If we actually look at the CVCs as being potentially the lead-in to the broader third sector, what we need to acknowledge is that the CVCs are relatively, financially, a very junior partner in relation to the other bodies. All of the other bodies will actually have structures that are around engagement officers to start with. Now, certainly, health and local authorities et cetera will have a range of systems and mechanisms behind that as part of their day job. As the CVCs, I think one of the issues that we have is limited resources. That makes it incredibly difficult because, if anything, we are the only partner where it actually becomes the day job for the CVC chief officers or one of our other officers, whereas within health or a local authority, if an issue comes up and it's around engagement with the community, well, actually, they will pass it on to their dedicated engagement team.
Picking up on the point about doing things differently, I think there is some real scope for engagement officers from all of the PSB partners to be able to come together—and is there any sharing of resource that can actually come from that? At the moment, there's an expectation that, as a sector, we are able to engage in the broader community and get down to citizen level far greater than local authorities. I'm just thinking, in our particular case, if they are doing a budget consultation or a planning consultation and they get 2,000 responses, that's always flagged up as being an excellent response. But actually, when you've got a population of nearly 130,000, that is actually a very poor one.
So, I think there is some issue there over the scalability of the different partners and what resources they can put to the table. When the PSBs were first being formed, Wrexham, along with a couple of other PSBs, were actually looking for a membership fee. In the case of Wrexham, all PSB members initially were asked for a £5,000 membership fee, irrespective of who they were, irrespective of the size. Now, thankfully, that idea was kicked into touch in the end. We were not the only ones who said that we do not have the financial resource to be able to commit to that. Other public bodies were saying the same. So, although we moved on from that, we still haven't tackled the thorny issue of where is the capacity coming from to do the level of engagement that we genuinely feel that we're able to do, and how do we convert what we feel we can do into reality.
It surely depends on the appropriateness of the citizen voice at particular points in the delivery plan.
I think this is recognised as a very important area in terms of citizen engagement and participation, how well we do it and what's going to enable that to happen most effectively. So, I share the disappointment that any option really, at the moment, is completely off the table. We may need to—
Could I just say at this point, Sheila, that we don't know that—? I mean, Jenny was reflecting on evidence that we'd heard earlier from the health sector, but we don't know what the Welsh Government's intentions might be, or, indeed, other key players. But, the evidence that we heard earlier was that it was unlikely from their point of view that there would be a dedicated financial resource for public services boards. So, that's just evidence that we heard from the health sector earlier today.
I think the point I was trying to make was that it's about getting the 46 public organisations to change the way they do things. So, I'm not saying that there shouldn't be some—depending on what the objectives are in the delivery plan—commissioning going on depending on what the outcomes are they're trying to achieve.
And that's very helpful in terms of that clarity, because, as I say, it is a journey and we're obviously obliged but also committed to actually going along on this journey, and trying to make sure that we are doing the best that we can for the citizens within each of our areas. So, it would be very interesting I think to actually explore how best to ensure that we are accountable to the citizens, and also influenced and informed by their needs and then their experiences as we go forward. So, that, I would suggest, would probably be a very useful exercise to actually delve into that and how best to enable it.
For any initial thoughts, I would suggest that most of the funding into public-related functions of this nature—public sector functions—seems to be through the local authority, and perhaps the perspective that was given was thinking as that being the route, whereas there are potential other opportunities we could look at that could counteract some of the skewing that's seen as the risk then around bringing funding into this that we could actually look into more deeply.
Are you able to provide examples of where people who are not salaried staff who attend public services boards—? Do they get their expenses paid to attend? Particularly in Pembrokeshire, there might be quite a distance to travel, or has that not yet been an issue?
I'm just trying to think—
We don't have anybody on the PSB, but on the regional partnership I'm aware that there are individual carers reps and there are probably two people there who are unsalaried. There was a significant issue at one time as to who was going to fund their basic expenses and things like that— was it going to come from the regional pot, or was it going to be coming from the host organisation? Surely, with something like that, if they're there on behalf of the region, it should be the regional side. And I think that should be an absolute given from the outset, that somewhere there should be a resource that comes from there. PSBs tend to be—from the third sector point of view, it's normally the chief officer. I think there are a couple of examples where there might be a chair of a CVC involved as well but, again, I'm sure it would be expected that it's the CVC that would be paying those expenses rather than the PSB on it.
I think that's the way it would probably work.
And just really practical things—because, in Pembrokeshire, we do run a Pride in Pembrokeshire award, an award just to celebrate and recognise small community groups working in communities with lots of volunteers that are contributing to their community well-being. Part of the thinking was to flag that up so that other people could think, 'Well, that's a really great idea; we could do that in our community'. It's also an opportunity to flag up what the PSB is about. So, they get some editorial in the Western Telegraph, which is great for them, and they get a cheque for £200, which they can spend on what they want. So, it's not a grant, it's an award. So, £200—so, it's not a huge amount of money but it's likely that we may have to stop that, because the idea was that each partner might just chip in. It's only—what is it, you know, a couple of thousand pounds a year? No. So, the local authority's having to find it. There are question marks over whether they can continue. So, that's just a really small thing—fantastic. We can't contribute the £200, but we do manage the scheme, so we put time into it.
We would like to have a dedicated website for the PSB because, at the moment, all our minutes are published. They sit inside the Pembrokeshire County Council's very corporate-looking website. We would like that to be pulled out and to have a PSB identity and have it pulled out so that people can get to it easily, but there's no resource for that to happen.
Well, I think, in terms of community resourcefulness and encouraging community participation, it's fundamental.
Okay, but, clearly, PSBs have got to focus on the things that have been identified as priorities.
Well, in terms of encouraging people to participate in their communities—
That's one of the priorities. Resourceful communities is one of the priorities. Community participation is one of the actions. So, in terms of linking to encouraging people to participate in their communities, it's fairly fundamental. But the problem is that all the public bodies, they're struggling with their budgets. So, we need an invest-to-save mechanism. I know that the local authorities have access to invest-to-save funds. Maybe those invest-to-save funds should be targeted to PSB priorities.
Okay. I think we probably—. I mean, we could go on—this is a very interesting conversation, but I think we probably haven't got—. And we want to hear a bit more about other things.
Roeddwn i'n mynd i jest godi cwestiynau ynglŷn ag ymgysylltu ac ymgynghori. Yn amlwg, mae gennych chi rôl i helpu hynny i ddigwydd, ond a ydych chi'n teimlo bod y byrddau, ar draws Cymru rŵan, wedi gwneud digon o drafod efo rhanddeiliaid a dinasyddion? Pwy sy'n mynd i ddechrau?
I was just going to raise a question in relation to engagement and the consultation process. Obviously, you have a role to help that happen, but do you feel as if the boards, across Wales, have done enough consultation with stakeholders and citizens? Who would like to begin?
There's certainly been plans in place to try and ensure that there has been broad consultation and engagement. I think it would be fair to say that there's been an awful lot of lessons learned in trying to make sure that that's happening effectively, and to move forward from where we started to, again, create a trajectory of improved outcomes. But it has created a series of interesting discussions, and, out of that, structures to try to support that. So, I'm aware that, in different local authority areas, there are different engagement forums that have been established, jointly staffed by third sector and public sector staff, to think about how we can all contribute to that. And, certainly, in my area, that's been the case. And it's, as I said, led to some very interesting discussions and developments—positive in terms of initial steps, but definitely a journey to travel to actually improve on where we've gone to. Now we're more aware of some of the challenges and some of the barriers and who best can actually help to support to achieve those outcomes.
Yes, okay. We did an initial consultation and engagement series of opportunities, a combination of online—if my memory serves me correctly—together with different community venues; so, staffed opportunities at different community venues. But there were different demographics that weren't involved. There were notable areas where there was insufficient representation. And so, what came out of that was a discussion about who best could actually promote and support a greater diversity of views coming in to shaping the plan. So, there was some other activity that we actually supported to get—. In fact, we facilitated with partners within the third sector to actually try to ensure that those demographics were represented. So, it's those kind of things, in terms of there was a wide-reach initial level of activity that didn't actually hit all of the targets, and therefore there was some additional learning around how best we can actually ensure that there is that kind of broader representation.
And, of course, within Cardiff, you've got a huge thing around diversity and all of the different needs—well, all the protected characteristics essentially. So, some of the learning was about needing a differentiated approach and working with relevant partners to actually make sure that those groups understood that they were the interest, and actually them being involved and the value of their involvement.
But you hope, during that process now, that lessons have been learned.
Absolutely. So, there'll be a differentiated approach, I would reasonably suspect, from word one, moving forward, so that there's not—. Again, the first phase will, no doubt, be replicated, but the second phases, or at least what were second phases, will probably be introduced into the first tier of engagement. So that, again, there'll be a general understanding that there are certain population groups that will respond to more traditional methods of engagement. But there will be additional requirements to make sure the wider interests are also included.
Can I just pick up? I think one of the key things is this move now to assume that, if you do an online survey, then you've actually completed your consultation events, and I think we've got to move away from that concept. As a society, we are not, in any way whatsoever, in that position to say that an online survey of anything can be regarded as true engagement.
The other particular point: in the Wrexham area, one of the things that we actually did in terms of engagement was we actually went to where people were already meeting. So, whether it be a local lunch club, whether it be a playgroup or whatever, there was engagement going direct to the people, rather than setting up particular engagement events and expecting people to come. Because, again, if you don't know what the offer is that you want to try and sell to people, because you're actually in the planning stage, then why will the public come, because it'll just be an unknown entity? Why will they step through the doors? That's why I think it's important that, when we're talking about engagement, whether it be at the school gate—wherever, basically, people are meeting, go there and then have the discussion and the dialogue and gather the information from that. And we've also got to move away from, as I mentioned with the online thing, measuring the success of engagement depending on the number of hits on a website. Because, again, I've still seen that coming through on some engagement reports: 'Oh, we've had a successful engagement because we've had x number of hits'. That's not engagement; that is just a tick-box exercise.
That's really where the third sector has some real strengths and something to offer to this party, as it were, because people are engaging with very diverse audiences through service users and volunteers, through mental health support groups, peer-led stuff—you know, groups with a really specific interest that could be used as a really powerful engagement tool for the PSBs.
I think there's more of an opportunity there. We recently advocated that we go away from consultation and engagement to dialogue, and it should be ongoing, and so, when you're actually asking people into the room, it's not as though there are two sets of strangers in that kind of sense; there's been this ongoing conversation. So, again, it's opened up some interesting discussions about how best we can achieve that. So, yes, there is room to make it more effective.
For us, although we've got three separate PSBs across the Hywel Dda area, we do have this regional post, and one of the things we did when we were doing the well-being assessment was that, although we all worked at our local county level, we used the same set of tools across the three counties, and then the data could be collated and looked at in a similar way. So, we did have an online survey. There were also hard-copy surveys. But we also used our—. In Pembrokeshire, we've got a communication and engagement framework. It does need a bit of refreshing, but, as John said, you know, we went to where the people were. We did some big participation exercises at the county show, for example. We had a well-being tree. It was about having lots of different types of conversations with people. But I think that we really need—.
We've mentioned consultation several times. At the moment, Hywel Dda is doing a big transforming clinical services consultation, and they've done engagement, and now there are options, and now they're consulting on those options. But, really, we're looking at conversations and dialogue and co-production and participation and engagement, rather than consultations, and I think making that shift—. I think your question was about has it been sufficient. I think we did the best we could in the time that we had, because there were time frames to meet for the well-being assessment, but I don't think it's ever sufficient. It's like one of those things that just has to keep going—just keep going at it, have those conversations, keep those conversations going, and turn that into co-production. I mean, that's the goal. And I think if the PSBs can achieve that then that's a significant achievement.
I think that concept of an ongoing dialogue is really important. People are getting a bit tired of constantly being asked for what they think should happen, could happen. I think the importance of closing that engagement loop and telling people what has happened as a result of their participation is really important, so keeping that conversation going with the different groups is really important.
And they need to be part of what happens as well, so this sort of—. I think I picked up on something that was said about this Tesco-type approach of, 'You said; we did,' and I'm thinking, actually, that isn't co-production. It's like, 'You said, we listened, together we did.' So, it's not just: 'Well, here's the problem—you solve it.' Encouraging people to be part of the solution, and that is a big task, that's where, I think—. PLANED has had some LEADER funding recently, so have just appointed a couple of officers to work with communities so that the communities themselves develop community well-being plans. The vision would be for each community to have its community well-being plan and for our PSB well-being plan to be an aggregate of that. That would be the vision, so it would be truly grass roots and led by community, but without investment that isn't going to happen, so—.
Can I just come back very quickly on the one point? And that is the profiling of the people that we engage with. If you actually look at the PSB plans across Wales and what their key, top priorities are, you can almost identify who the profiled people were that they actually engaged with. If you take the Wrexham one for instance, the top priority for Wrexham was 'children and young people have a healthy start in life'. So, you can almost profile who would have actually put that as the top listing.
I think, in a lot of instances, you—. I personally think you can see some threads between what got to the top and what didn't. So, in our particular case in Wrexham—and this is where there was a conflict initially between PSB and the health board—health board had got a priority that was on older people's falls and dementia. That didn't feature in that listing of priorities. So, it was adjusted accordingly.
And, if I may, I think the other challenge is it's not just about the numbers of hits, it's also breaking down, so, in terms of not putting the tick in the box if you've got older people, it's across all of the different protected characteristics, so you ensure that you have that wide level of engagement as well, and that's another challenge in terms of ensuring it is sufficiently inclusive.
And, finally, in a sentence, do you think that the PSBs are actually going to have the effect that the future generations Act wants them to have? In other words, are we going to see the outcomes that we all want to see happening at community and individual levels? Sheila.
I think there's a lot to happen to make that happen as effectively as we might ideally like. I don't think it's any point—. There's not an end to that journey; it has to be ongoing. So, I think, as long as we're prepared to learn and be open to the learning and think about how best to facilitate the outcomes from that learning, then I think there is a real potential to move very much in the right direction around the ambitions set in the Act, but there are an awful lot of challenges within that.
I think one of the key things for me is we've got to move away from political funding and electoral cycles, both at Welsh Government and local authority level. The five-year cycle has a massive impact on planning processes. If we actually look at most of the well-being plans, potentially they're five years. If we look at what the future generations Act is all about, it actually is generational change. Generational change is beyond five years, but, whilst we're on five-year funding cycles, that is an absolute detriment. Whilst we're in a position with funding as well that is in-year expenditure—so, PSB partners will come around the table in February, we've got slippage, we need to spend it, we need to get it out through the door before the end of March. All of these things actually contribute to the way in which the PSB potentially, in a few years' time, could, hopefully, genuinely say we've made a difference. But if we don't actually look at the structure in which the PSB is actually working as a whole then I think we're actually being too narrow, because these five-year cycles are actually horrendous in terms of how do you actually look—. The children and young people healthy start in life for Wrexham: you can't really measure that over a five-year period. You've got various stages in people's lives on their pathway that you can measure it. Five years is too short. So, I do, and I think part of the overall plea from this process is: can we actually start looking at some real longevity, as opposed to saying, 'Well, this is the only way that we can do things—five-year chunks'? It doesn't work.
Yes. I'm going to be optimistic and say that I, personally, again, from a Pembrokeshire experience—I think the PSB is a significant improvement on what we had as an LSB. So, I can see it's a much broader membership. Their partners are committed—difficult for them to commit resources, but they're committed to the idea of it all. So, perhaps in time that will play through. But I completely agree with John: it would be a disaster if—you know, we've moved from community planning and leadership partnerships to local services boards to now public services boards. Every time we transition there's a delay of a year or two years whilst we do an assessment, write a plan, set up the structures. No sooner have we done that then we're on to the next thing and all those structures are stood down. So, we can't have that again. With PSBs, we've got the legislation, we've got that framework, we've got the well-being outcomes. We're signed up to it, but we do need 10, 15 or 20 years to have a go. Now, we're not all of us going to be on PSBs for the next 20 years, but that's the length of time. We can't be chopping and changing every five years, because it's a huge waste of time. We've got other things to do. We've got better things to be spending that time on, so I think, just—. Also, it is citizen centred, it is grass roots. So, we've got to strike a balance between proper scrutiny and accountability, but we need to step back and let that citizen-centred process work. One of the things is to step back a bit. That's my other thing as well—we need to get out of the way sometimes; we don't want to be a block, we want to be an enabler.
Yes, I think we've talked a lot today about being citizen centred, but we've talked about that in relation to public bodies changing the way in which they relate to citizens. But I think the other side of that coin is about empowering citizens to become more invested in the way that public services are delivered, so to change that culture on the side of the citizens away from being focused on being done to by public services to having real investment in how those services are delivered. So, I think there's a culture change on both sides that's necessary.
Okay. Thank you all very much. Thanks for coming along to give evidence to the committee today. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy. Diolch yn fawr.
Okay, then, the next item on our agenda today is papers to note. Papers 5 and 6 relate to the inquiry into pregnancy, maternity and work. Paper 7 is the Welsh Government's response to our report on rough-sleeping, which, of course, we will debate in Plenary later. Is committee content to note those papers? Yes. Thank you very much.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Item 7, then, is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Again, is committee content so to do? Yes. We will move into private session. Thank you very much.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:33.
The public part of the meeting ended at 12:33.