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Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau

Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee

07/11/2018

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Jayne Bryant AM
Jenny Rathbone AM
John Griffiths AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Leanne Wood AM
Mark Isherwood AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Christine Grimshaw Pennaeth Tîm Trais yn erbyn Menywod a Cham-drin Domestig, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of the Violence against Women and Domestic Abuse Team, Welsh Government
Jo-Anne Daniels Cyfarwyddwr, Cymunedau a Threchu Tlodi, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director, Communities and Tackling Poverty, Welsh Government
Julie James AM Arweinydd y Tŷ a’r Prif Chwip
Leader of the House and Chief Whip

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Chloe Davies Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Hannah Johnson Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Naomi Stocks Clerc
Clerk

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 y cyfarfod am 10:01.

The meeting began at 10:01.

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

Welcome, everyone, to this meeting of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee. Item 1 on our agenda today is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. We've received apologies from Jack Sargeant, Siân Gwenllian and Gareth Bennett. David Melding will be joining us for items 6 and 7 in place of Mark Isherwood for those particular items. Are there any declarations of interest? No. Okay.

2. Ymchwiliad ar ôl y Broses Ddeddfu ynghylch Deddf Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol (Cymru) 2015: Craffu ar waith Arweinydd y Tŷ a'r Prif Chwip.
2. Post-legislative Inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: Scrutiny of the Leader of the House and Chief Whip

We will move on then to item 2, which is our post-legislative inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 and scrutiny of the Leader of the House and Chief Whip, Julie James. I'm very pleased to welcome Julie James to committee today, and also Christine Grimshaw, head of the relevant team in Welsh Government, and Jo-Anne Daniels, director of communities and tackling poverty in the Welsh Government. 

If it's okay with you, leader of the house, I'll begin with the first general questions, unless you wanted to make any initial comment.

Okay. First of all then, what measures have you taken to increase the pace of implementation of the Act since you assumed responsibility for these issues, given that, I think it's fair to say, there wasn't sufficient pace in implementation in the initial stages?

Yes, that's fair enough. Can I apologise in advance, Chair? I'm full of cold, so I sound like I've been chewing razor blades. So, apologies.

I thank you for soldiering on and coming in, unless that's probably unadvisable in terms of spreading germs around to others.

Probably. I'll do my best to cough into my tissue, but anyway—. 

When I took this portfolio over, just on a year ago now,  at the same time, the officials team in the Welsh Government was renewed. So, Christine joined, I think, only three or four days before I took over the portfolio, and a number of other team members also changed at that time, so there was a general refresh of the approach to the Act. And the first thing that the team and I did was to go through where we'd got to so far and to set out where we needed to get to, and then to set a realistic timetable for getting back on track, because, you're absolutely right, the framework had fallen behind. We've made a lot of progress since then. 

I'm going to get Christine, partly because my voice is awful, and partly because, actually, it's quite a complex set of steps that we've gone through, just to go through exactly what we've done. If this would be helpful to the committee, she has a handy reckoner that she did for me about the various different strategies, frameworks, sustainable funding documents and so on. One of the issues around this area, I find, is that there are a number of documents that have similar names, and it's quite difficult to keep in your head which one is which as you go through. So, if I get Christine to set out what she found when she got into post, what we discussed, and then where we are. I'm happy to circulate that to the members of the committee, as I think you'll all find it—well, I find it—very helpful in setting out what the difference between the framework and the strategy is and what the difference between commissioning guidance is, and so on.

10:05

I'll make sure that I send that to you. I think it's fair to say, actually—. It's quite easy for us to say, 'Well, we've made huge progress in the last year.' I think there was more progress made beforehand than people were aware of, but we've never been very good about shouting about it. The other point, as well, is, when you're setting something up, as was happening after the Act, there necessarily needs to be a lot of consultation and involvement. If you don't do that, people complain, and if you do do that, people feel that you're not making sufficient progress.

So, some of the things that had happened, for example, were the setting up of 'ask and act', which is a system of targeted inquiry. It's training front-line professionals—so it can be GPs, teachers, fire and rescue, Wales ambulance trust and so on—to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and know what to do about it, how to refer that person for support. So, they're not expected to actually deal with it themselves, but to know what to do if they do come across that. It's been very, very successful. That started with two sites; we've now rolled it out to five sites. So, the training is ongoing now. We're expecting to train up to 4,000 people in the coming year on that, so we're already on top of those. I think it's 1,300 we trained in the first year of that [correction: 1,800 to date]. So, there's quite a lot of training that's happened. We've also launched e-learning, in which we ask all relevant authorities to make sure that all of their staff, not just front-line practitioners, but absolutely everyone in those relevant authorities, are trained. So, the relevant authorities are local authorities, local health boards, fire and rescue, Wales ambulance trust and—. I'm missing one, but there is another one. So, between those two pieces of training, as well as the national training framework, to date, we've trained 135,000 people. So, I don't think that's any mean feat.

In addition, we've published quite a lot of guidance. I counted about nine pieces of guidance, and some of those were fairly early on as well. So, we produced a good practice guide for schools called 'A Whole Education Approach to Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence in Wales'. We also published some guidance for school governors so that they know what their responsibilities are in this area. We published guidance on the national training framework, and that is statutory guidance, so it's telling the relevant authorities what they must do in terms of training their staff. We've also published guidance on safeguarding older people. Older people are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse—not necessarily partner abuse, although it very often is. It can be other family members, children and grandchildren. They're also not very good at reporting, or prefer not to report abuse. So, it's about safeguarding older people. We've provided statutory guidance on 'ask and act', so relevant authorities must follow that guidance unless they can give us a good reason why they don't. And we've drafted regional commissioning guidance, which we've consulted on. That's come back now, and we're just revising that, and we'll be publishing that shortly. So, those are just some of the pieces of guidance.

And just to add to that, Chair, what's been interesting for me, as I've gone around Wales over the last year—. I've been doing a tour of a lot of the organisations that are involved in this, because we're very keen on making sure that we learn from their experience. So, we've got a survivor network, which I'm sure we'll come on to in questions later on, but we've also been very keen to talk to the organisations on the ground about what works and what hasn't worked and so on. So, the conversations around the regional commissioning and guidance have been really interesting, because we've actually slowed it down as a result of some of the conversations that we've had with practitioners on the ground about how that might impact on them, because the funding for this is incredibly complex. It's not just funding from my particular budget; there's funding from across the Welsh Government in different pots—I'm sure we'll come on to that as well. But there's also a complex set of funding from a range of other sources. So, there are various funds in this area. The UK Government funds various things in this area. It's a very complex set of funding, so the whole point about the commissioning guidance is to make sure that people get the best out of that funding, and that we try and join it together in a sustainable way.

And the other thing I want to say is—this is around my political agenda on this—I think that we've caused some of the problems in this sector in the past, with the best intentions, because we've commissioned stuff in such a way that we've made people compete with each other where actually they should be collaborating. So, if you imagine, we say to people, 'Look, we'd like you to co-operate. We'd like you to share good practice and so on, but at the end of these two years, we're going to ask you to compete for this work.' So, you know, I don't want to share my best practice with you, Chair, because that's what I'm going to use to get my money at the end of the two years. That's going to be my unique selling point. So, I'll give little bits of it to you because I've got to collaborate, but, actually, I try to keep—and that's very understandable human behaviour. We've driven some of that by the way we've done the commissioning.

A very large part of what we've been trying to do with the sustainable funding and regional commissioning guidance is to break some of that and to actually get ourselves to a sustainable set of services where you don't waste 15 per cent of the money retendering every however many years we decide on, and that we come up with a more sustainable method of collaboration across the piece. Now, that's really easy to say and turns out to be exceptionally difficult to do, because we've also got to ensure good value for money, and we've got to make sure that we're not just funding things because we funded them in the past. We've got to make sure the services are still relevant, being delivered in the right place and so on. It's been a complex set of things that we've gone through with a very large range of stakeholders. I'm sure you're about asking me this as well, but as a result we've restructured the way that we liaise with the sector as well, so the panels are different than they were a year ago, for that reason.

10:10

Okay. Any information you could furnish the committee with in written form, leader of the house, that sets that out, that you haven't already provided, would be very useful.

Christine's actually reading from a document that's two pages of headline funds and training pieces and so on. I'm very happy to circulate that. I find it very useful because, as I say, a lot of them have almost the same regional commissioning guidance, sustainable funding guidance—they're almost the same names. It's very easy to get yourself mixed up as to which one you're talking about without a ready reckoner. 

One of the issues, if I was doing this again—it's important to learn lessons—I do think one of the issues is actually making this a simpler thing to navigate because you're talking about groups who—. You don't want to have to have a PhD in technical terms in order to be able to navigate your way through this. So, one of the tasks we've got is to actually simplify the whole thing so that it's much more understandable, much more obvious where you should go for particular bits of guidance and so on. So, that's one of the tasks that we're in the process of doing, and the national advisers are now chairing one of the forums trying to do that.

Okay. And we will, as you say, leader of the house, come back to some of these issues with further questions, but at this stage, could you tell the committee whether or not all the recommendations from this committee's 2016 report on the implementation of the Acts have been acted upon, and if not, which ones are outstanding?

So, all the recommendations that we accepted in the first place have been implemented, or are in train, except for a very minor couple of ones where time has passed on a little bit. As Christine just said, we've done the two annual reports. We've published the statutory guidance and rolling out the 'ask and act' training, we've launched the national communication strategy, we've worked with the survivors, we've funded the education initiatives and the healthy relationships piece that the committee talked about a great deal. We support the male victims through project Dyn and a dedicated website, and we've worked with the black minority ethnic organisations around female genital mutilation, honour-based violence and forced marriage.

There are some issues around the time frame, and I think Christine was being very careful in what she said. I'll be a little less careful, Chair, and say I think that we overestimated how fast we could do it. And, actually, it's quite a complex area and you do need to speak to a lot of people on the ground to make sure that we get this stuff right. I think the original time frames were just hopelessly optimistic. So, what we've tried to do now is set, with the sector, realistic time frames. The regional guidance is a very good example of that. We've pulled back on that because the feedback we are getting is that people are not ready to go—. They all think it's a good idea, but they're not ready to make that move, and we need to do a bit more work around it.

So, I think we've done—I'm pretty sure we've done—everything we said we would do, or were in the process of doing here.

Okay. We may well write to you after today's evidence in the usual way, leader of the house, asking for further information.

10:15

But, again, a note setting out which recommendations have been fully acted upon, as it were, and others that, perhaps, are in the process of being—

I'm more than happy to go—if the committee would find it helpful—through the recommendations of the report and write a short grid of where we are with each one of them, if you'd find that helpful.

I've actually got something here that would tell you now that—

Yes, okay. Returning to what you were saying about integration and the budgeting process, leader of the house, Chwarae Teg, in the gender review that they did for you, I think, highlighted a lack of integration between this piece of legislation and the budget process in terms of necessary cross-Government working and they cited that as a risk to effective implementation of the legislation. How do you respond to that and how will you be responding to that?

I think the Chwarae Teg report was really interesting on a number of fronts and I'm going to start from this one, which I think is the most interesting, in a way. What we asked them to do is reflect back to us what we look like from the outside. So, some of the things that they've reflected back to us are not accurate in the sense that we could write back saying, 'Oh, but we actually do do—'. And the thing is, that's not visible from the outside, so what I've said to officials inside the Government is, 'Yes, we can see that we actually do do some of the things that they say we don't do, but it's clearly not visible.' There's no point in it if it's not visible, so we need to change. For example, we do have a cross-Government way of working but it wasn't visible to them and, clearly, nobody they spoke to mentioned it. So, that's not good enough. So, what we've looked to do is to go through the recommendations, and even where we would say, 'Well, we do that already', we'd look to do it in a slightly different way so that it is visible to the outside world. So, there is a cross-Government group, but it clearly isn't high enough profile. And officials that Chwarae Teg spoke to, who are very senior officials for the most part, clearly didn't have it in the forefront of their minds when they were talking to them. So, there are quite a few things like that in it where we would say, 'Well, we do do that', but, actually, I think it's not good enough to just respond like that. We have to do it in such a way that people have it in the forefront of their minds when they're being asked about things. 

That's part of the issue I talked to you about at the very beginning, about the confusing language about some of this stuff, and what we call things and which inter-government group you're actually talking about. So, for example, we have a cross-Government group on adverse childhood experiences, which I'm sure the committee will be aware of, and that will have all the same officials on it as a cross-Government group on domestic violence or sexual violence might have on it. So, what's the point of that? You don't want the same lot of officials meeting twice on the same day with a different title, and, anyway, ACEs are a very large part of the work that goes on for this. So, what we've started to do is review how some of those groups work and what people think the main thrust of them is, because that, I think, is what the Chwarae Teg report highlights to us. So, rather than being defensive about it, we've said, 'Okay, fair enough, it clearly didn't come through, and so we're going to relook at the way we do that.' So, that's one of them. 

So, the short answer is: we do do that, but we clearly don't do it effectively enough or with enough prominence for it to have come through in the report, and so we're now working on a different way of taking that forward.

Just very briefly, and it is something that came up when we first scrutinised this legislation. Am I the only one here who was actually on that scrutiny? I can't remember, but—you were, yes. John's question referred to budgets and there was a reference to cross-Government working, and you also referred to the Home Office, i.e. inter-government working. What is the current position with regard to the Welsh Government contribution to the sexual assault referral centres, the independent domestic violence advisers and the independent sexual violence advisers, where, originally, there was an unwritten understanding between the Government at the introduction, in the last decade, of these programmes, but that wasn't formalised and that led to concerns having being raised with me in the past over the stability and the sustainability of programmes given the lack of join-up between the two budget pots?

So, that's one of the issues that we're working on around the sustainable regional guidance, for example. What we want is for people to be able to see all of the different funding pots that are available to them and how they integrate together in a really easy form. I can supply the committee with a budget list of which proportion of the SARCs comes from the local health boards' budgets, which proportion of Supporting People supports refuges, which proportion of—. But I don't think that's good enough. I think what we need is an easy-to-understand set of expectations alongside the budget allocations from across all of the funding that sits in this area, and that, actually, we need to work very effectively, better, with the UK Government—and Christine seems to have been doing a good job here—because they keep announcing other funding as well. So, for example, there's a tampon tax that's being introduced that crosses across some of what we do, and we need to make sure that the funding streams come together and that we don't have people competing for different bits of money without a sustainable set of services underneath them. So, one of the things we're looking to do is to have a much better understanding of where the services are required across Wales. So, actually, we've just commissioned a big piece of work about what services are needed where, whether they exist in those places, and what are the funding pots available for them. So, it's on a much more granular level than that.

So, I'm very happy, again, to supply the committee with a budget list of exactly how much comes out of which of those pots. I'm more than happy to give you that. But I think it's more complex than that, because I think it's actually about, I don't know, how does the sexual violence team in Gwynedd figure out where its next set of funding is coming from and where should they be looking for that guidance? That's what they're really trying to work on. 

10:20

If you're the women's centre in Rhyl, or you're Hafan Cymru, or you're a Women's Aid local branch and you're hosting an IDVA or an ISVA, they need that certainty because they run on very, very tight budgets. 

Absolutely right. We also need to have a better system of understanding what the refresh of those fundings are. So, when we put our budget together, for example—sorry, I'm diverging all over the place, probably from woolly thinking from my cold a little bit—. We've just announced that we're not going to be putting the violence against women, domestic violence, sexual violence funding into the mega-grant this year, and one of the reasons for that is because I'm not sure that we can follow that through properly so that we can trace the funding properly into the services, and also, frankly, I'm not sure that we actually know where the services are most required. So, that's why we've commissioned a piece of research to do that.

If I could characterise it like this, and I don't mean this in any disrespectful way, because this is the bedrock of this service, but often we have a service where four women in 1976 got together because there wasn't one, and made a service, and that's what we've continued to fund, and that's grown. Most of our really good services came from that kind of initiative, but if those four women didn't exist in your area, then the service didn't exist, and that doesn't mean it's not needed. So, we haven't really done a comprehensive review of where things are and why, and what the actual requirements are. And, again, Chair, that's very easy to say and it turns out to be very difficult to do in terms of where you get the raw data about the need from—you know, where are the crime statistics coming from, what are the accident and emergency departments reporting in terms of people turning up with violent injuries, what are the local private sector housing teams reporting about what they find? It's all over the place. So, that's a piece of research we're very keen to do because I do think that's one of the issues. 

You stressed the need for clarity and the ease to understand where the various bits of money come from, but most people don't care, really, where the money comes from. What they want to know is what services they're entitled to access. And I appreciate you saying that you're doing this scoping exercise to see what's there, but we're three and a half years into the legislation now, so, really, by now, this work should have already been completed.

I can tell you off the top of my head three gaping holes in services: it's counselling services, as Mark has just referenced, the SARCs, but also rape counselling. There's a 12-month waiting list and people are being advised that if they're taking their case through the police, they can't access services because that could, potentially, contaminate the evidence. There's all kinds of wrong information being given. The second one is children's services, and I raised with the First Minister yesterday the need to co-fund children's services in this area. They're not co-funded yet, and the First Minister accepted patchy provision. And the third area is education, and unless we attack this at the core and teach kids in school consent and what it means to be the victim of a misogynistic-based hate crime and all of those other issues, then we're just going to keep repeating. And to see from Kirsty Williams that we're not going to see any progress on this until eight years after the legislation has been implemented is pretty shocking, in my view. Now, there's reference to a Hafan programme. I'd be interested to know how many kids are accessing that. I would imagine, not all of them, and of course all of them should and if it was in the curriculum, they would. I'd like to know about the co-funding of children's services and how you're going to put that on a sustainable model, as well as the abuse services.

And, just to come on to the question that I'm meant to ask—[Laughter.] Sorry, Chair. In 2016, a previous national adviser said that commissioning guidance is critical to the purpose of the Act. So when is that guidance going to be published and what have the interim arrangements been over the last three and a half years?

10:25

I'll do those in reverse, Leanne, because some of those—. I agree with the thrust of what you're saying, but let me come back to where we're trying to get to. Yasmin Khan, one of the national advisers, is chairing a strategic group looking at the sustainable commissioning—am I saying that correctly?

Sustainable funding. 

Funding, there we are. See, I'm doing it as well now. The sustainable funding model. 

And she's doing that because we had a lot of feedback—we were at the point of putting the guidance out and we had a lot of feedback to say—. We thought people were going along with it and were happy with it and then right at the last minute, we had people saying, 'Actually, we're not ready to go to this. This is going to cause us all kinds of problems for various complex reasons.' So we came back a few steps and we got Yasmin to chair the meetings, and they've been a lot more productive since she's been chairing them, I think, in terms of getting to the nitty-gritty of what exactly it is that causes the difficulties. Some of the things I said earlier about setting people against each other and what information you need and the behaviours we've been driving have come out of that group. So, we're expecting that to continue its work and to—. What's the timescale for that, Christine?

Well, there are two pieces of work that the group has been involved with: the regional commissioning guidance and on sustainable funding. For the last three and a half years, they haven't been without commissioning guidance. We've had the Lloyd's Bank Foundation toolkit. We worked with Lloyd's Bank Foundation to develop a toolkit with Women's Aid and Imkaan specifically for Wales. So they have had a very useful toolkit. What we've developed since then is a regional toolkit. So, it's wrapping around that, and that's the bit that we've had to pull back on and say, 'Okay, we appreciate you're not ready for regional commissioning yet.' That is where we'll be looking at needs-led and mapping services and where the funding is coming from, and that then feeds into the sustainable funding model.

So, it's two interlocking pieces of work that will lead to sustainable funding, as far as we're able, bearing in mind that we don't have control of all the funding in this area. Some of it comes from UK Government, police and crime commissioners, police, and so on, but we've invited those bodies onto regional partnerships so that they can work with what we can deliver as well. 

But funding for children's services would come under Welsh Government's remit, wouldn't it?

That's a devolved issue: everything relating to children, yes? So, education, social services, health. 

Well, yes, but there's a little bit of youth justice and stuff that's a bit more complex.

So, yes, most of it, but there are always little twiddly bits at the edges that are annoying. So, Christine and I went down to talk about a multi-agency safeguarding hub rolling out in Swansea, for example, a couple of weeks ago, and the complexity of getting the funding together for who funds which bit of that and which partners need to engage and all of the rest of it is labyrinthine, frankly. So, none of it is as straightforward as we would like. So, yes, most children's services, but there are twiddly bits that aren't quite—. 

We do need to make progress, Mark; is it very short and sharp?

It's directly relevant to this. At the very last stage of this legislation, working with Jocelyn Davies and Peter Black, the three opposition parties took the Welsh Government to line at Stage 4 because healthy relationship education was not in the Act. We received clear assurances on that and on perpetrator programmes, where the Welsh Government had been telling us there weren't effective accredited schemes available, when there were—there was a Relate scheme, there was Hafan Cymru, who I'd been out with, delivering programmes in schools, which were also teaching teachers and helping them see things differently, which could and should have continued to receive statutory support until these other programmes kicked in. We did not consent to that on the grounds that we wait usually seven years for curriculum changes. That was not our understanding. 

10:30

It's not my understanding, either. We fund Hafan Cymru. I don't know if the committee has had a chance to talk to anybody from Hafan Cymru, but they're very impressive. The classroom experiences, I've had the privilege of sitting in on one of them and it was quite extraordinary. I don't know the specific answer to how many children that Leanne asked me, but we can find that out for you. 

I haven't had the conversation with Kirsty Williams about the seven years, so I'll go back and have that, because that's a surprise to me. [Interruption.] Sorry, I'm really struggling. I'm just going to go outside and cough for a minute and then I'll come back.

Right. There's a slight lull in proceedings. I'll wait until the leader of the house comes back before asking the question that I was just about to ask. I'm sure she won't be long. Okay, thank you, leader of the house. 

So, let me just—. I'll go back and discuss with Kirsty Williams the exact—. We're delighted that the sex and healthy relationships report was taken on. The conversation that I remember around about the Act was what should be on the face of the Act, because at that point we were talking about the Donaldson curriculum and we were very reluctant to start putting forced things into the curriculum, because that was at an early stage. That's changed now, and the sex and healthy relationships piece from the expert panel has been accepted in its entirety. 

The committee is clearly ahead of me in terms of the timescales. That's not a conversation I've yet had with Kirsty, so I will have that conversation and come back to you, because that's news to me. I'm entirely with you on that. So, I didn't realise it was going to take that long. If it is, then we clearly need to something in between, because I think the point that both Mark and Leanne have made we absolutely agree with. You've got to get the healthy relationships stuff in early on, and children need to understand that what they're experiencing isn't okay. And a large part of the campaigns that we've been running—the This is Me campaign against gender stereotyping, and so on—are very much aimed at getting everyone to understand that something that's happening to them isn't something that they should regard as normal. The next one that's coming out in January is very powerful about coercive control. I'm very keen on that, so I will go away and speak to Kirsty about that, because that timescale is not something that I'd become aware of. Maybe I should have, but it hasn't— 

As you say, leader of the house, I think the committee would be interested to know what is happening and will happen in advance of the new curriculum hopefully putting us in a much better place on these matters. 

We have these really overly complicated structures, it would appear to me, that we've all created—the National Assembly and the Welsh Government. But meanwhile, trying to focus on things that we've actually achieved, could you just tell us how the 'ask and act' training has been funded so far, and how many people have so far benefited from that training?  

Yes, we fund it, and it's £70,000, isn't it, I think? 

I couldn't tell you off the top of my head how many have been trained so far, but I can certainly give you those figures. I know the first year, as I say, there was 1,300 trained through just 'ask and act'. We've got the national training framework, which does—. I don't know if you're aware, but that is a complicated structure. We've got six groups, going from everyone in an organisation all the way up to leadership, so we've structured our training differently. So, we've trained 135,000 people that way, and we've just let some new contracts to continue this coming year. 

Okay. The bottom line on this is that we know that midwives won't ask the question unless they've been trained, and being able to grasp how they're going to respond. 

Yes. We've also very recently met with Public Health Wales, who are quite keen on delivering their own training that is particularly specific to health. In fact, it was a midwife who was particularly interested in taking this work forward. So, we've met with them to discuss how that would fit in with the statutory obligations under 'ask and act', and we've accepted that it would be delivering very similar things to 'ask and act', but particularly focused on the needs of the health sector. So, we've agreed that that would meet their statutory obligation. 

10:35

Okay. So, just going back to the funding of it, is it cross-Government or is this central to the leader of the house's budget, attached to this—

It's from your budget. So, you don't have to go around all the other departments asking for—

Yes. Fine. Because it seems to me that that's one of the things that has complicated your role, in that you're constantly—

Yes. This is one the perennial problems of a role like equalities, isn't it? And I've had this conversation a number of times with people in Plenary as well. I don't have personal portfolio responsibility for a large number of the areas that I have a lot of influence over. So, I work very closely with the children's Minister, for example, on some of this. So, my role is to ensure that the equalities agenda sits inside all of the other portfolios. So, I have direct responsibility for a few things, but it's actually not very many—the training framework is one of them. But, actually, a lot of the big strategies, like adverse childhood experiences or youth justice, or community cohesion don't sit with me; they sit with another Minister. And what I do is ensure, because I have constant meetings with the other Ministers—. I have a rolling programme of bilaterals with them, where what I talk about is how did they get the equalities agenda to sit inside the various strategies that they have. It's one of those cross-cutting things. I would end up controlling the entire Government because equality should be completely integrated into everything. So, it's an impossible task. 

So, what we do is—. So, I can tell you how much of Supporting People specifically goes to refuges, for example, but, actually, a large part of the Supporting People programme is in this area, because we know that having decent housing and good community cohesion helps with domestic violence and sexual violence situations, so it's more complicated than trying to pick out an individual pound, if you like, and say that. So, part of my task has been to try and get the ethos of this driven into some of these programmes, and we've done well over the last year. People are a lot more upfront about it now after this year than they were before, and that's in no small part down to Christine and her team, because they came in with a zeal to get some of this stuff done. 

But I'll go back to what I said at the beginning. Part of the problem is that we have set up a complex system and I would quite like to see it simplified so that people have a much better understanding of how that's supposed to work. 

[Inaudible.]—framework then, leader of the house? Does that draw on funding from various Government departments?

Yes. So, it's across the Welsh Government, so virtually every portfolio has some input into this, but it also comes from the UK Government and that comes direct from the UK Government, or it comes through the PCCs, for example. Some of the core funding that goes out to local health boards is also in the field, so that comes back to us though the sexual assault response teams, for example. Some of it is a bit frustrating because you have to persuade each local bit to go for it. So, if I give you the example of the MASH: I'm very frustrated at the moment, and I'll say this publicly, that the MASH in Swansea isn't happening, and I'm a bit frustrated by why we can't make that happen. And it's because they would argue, I think, to be fair, that they have a system that works just as well. But I think it's really complex to have different systems in different places when, actually, you're often dealing with the same people, because somebody fleeing obviously flees across boundaries. 

Okay. So, the MASH is the multi-agency sexual health—

Okay. I think one of the concerns we have is how difficult it is to scrutinise progress, because, for example, the delivery framework you published in July doesn't have any time frames attached to it. So, how do we know whether the Government—? How can we possibly measure the Government's progress if we don't know whether you're meeting the targets you set for yourselves?

I totally sympathise with that. However, as I said, I feel we were a bit over optimistic in what we thought we could deliver. And, so, what we're currently doing is consulting with the sector, and we will come forward with the timescales as part of the consultation. But we set a time frame for this very groundbreaking Act, which I think was just hopelessly optimistic, really, looking back. I think we hadn't really quite comprehended quite how groundbreaking it is. Culture and behaviour take quite a while to shift around to this way of thinking. So, our view is it's accelerated this—and no criticism is intended of what went before I came into portfolio, just to be clear. I just think it's very new, and people are really struggling with the changing culture, and so on. And I was lucky enough to come into portfolio at a time when that was shifting, and we had a new team, and so we've pushed it forward. And I do think Christine's team has managed to make sense out of what looked a bit chaotic when we first came in.

There were some things that had been overlooked, because the Act is quite complex in what we've got to go through. And then we'd had a gap in national adviser, which didn't help either. So, again, we had the new national advisers come in shortly after I came into portfolio, so I had the privilege, really, of appointing them. But the previous national adviser, who'd done excellent work, had been out of office for a little while, so there'd been a gap there. And the new national advisers also took a little while to bed in and to start putting their stamp on things, and they've been really interesting, actually. I presume you've had a session, Chair, with the national advisers—

10:40

Yes, we did. Just sticking with the delivery framework, you say in your paper it's going to be updated in due course, to include the national indicators. Would you care to set a time frame on that?

Well, the national indicators we're intending to publish in May, we're drafting those at the moment, and we'll be going out to consultation on them. We've had some workshops with key stakeholders. The biggest problem we've got with the national indicators is there's very poor data around, and it's very limited. A big chunk of our data source comes from the crime survey for England and Wales, and, at the moment, that's not broken down for Wales, and it needs to be done on a three-year basis. So, there are not a lot of data sources. So, part of our consultation is going to be about: do you know of other data sources that we haven't been able to identify, and, if they're not there, are they things that we would be able to develop? So, that's one of the reasons why there has been a delay in that. When we publish the national indicators, those will be just the first stab at that—we will be updating those—but that will be what will inform our delivery framework. And, again, the delivery framework is intended to be a living document that we will add to and amend, and change, and flex, as circumstances change.

Okay. Given all these challenges, how do you plan to prioritise these different—lack of data, getting people—

Well, lack of data is going to be a key priority for the national indicators. We are working with social researchers at the moment to try and identify what we can do about that. So that is one of the priorities we recognise—they've been a long time coming.

Can I ask about this lack of data? Sorry, I worked in the public sector, and I speak to public sector workers an awful lot, and they are collecting data all the time—it's coming out of their ears. What happens to it, if you haven't got it?

Yes, you're absolutely right. The problem is that they don't always measure the things that we need to measure for this. So, for example, if you want to measure the impact of the Act on people suffering domestic abuse, it's very difficult to measure, because, first of all, you've got to rely on people reporting, and sometimes, if you improve systems, more people report, so it looks like those figures are going up. Likewise, people going into hospital, being identified as being victims of domestic violence, or of sexual violence, or one of the cultural—. So, it's—

Women's Aid take this information when someone comes into the refuge; where does that go? Does it not—? Does it go to councils for their funding?

Women's Aid do. They do, but it's not national, and that's another problem—we don't have a national picture. So, we need to synthesise that data.

Just to be clear, we've got the data from Women's Aid, and from the sector, if you like, but we know that that's only a small part of the picture. So, the issue is how do we get the rest of the picture. I don't know, again, Chair, whether you've had the chance to do this, but there's a very good system at A&E in the Heath, for example, where the receptionists—the people who you speak to when you first go in to A&E; I'm not sure they're called receptionists, but you know who I mean, brilliant people—have been trained to ask a set of questions around how you got your injury, which has given them a heat map, which is just extraordinary. And it shows you the patterns of where things are happening. And that is information we just don't have, and it doesn't show up in the crime statistics, and it doesn't show up—. So, it's how to get to that, so that we put the right services into A&E on the right days because, actually, you can see the pattern. My guess as to that pattern, which we'd all guess, I think, because it was around weekends and so on, was actually wrong. Because, when you see the pattern, it's really interesting—it's not as you'd expect. Obviously, there are night-time economy issues in Cardiff, and they are picked up, but there are other issues that are being picked up in that data that I wasn't aware of. 

So, the big issue there is: how do we work with health to make sure that all the A&Es pick up that information in a realistic way? So, we have had many conversations with health about how we can do that. And it's that kind of data. So, it's not the sector data because we have that in abundance—you're quite right, Leanne. We know that that's nothing like the need, if you like.

10:45

Okay, given the importance of health, because the journey always starts with pregnancy, there's little mention of it in the delivery framework. Given your discovery about these wonderful heat maps, how is that going to be reflected?

Again, this is part of what Chwarae Teg also produced. This is about us having better and more transparent, obvious mechanisms to work with health in this field. So, they do exist, but it's part of the piece now to put that in a rather more upfront fashion. So, that's part of what we're working on. So, I think the committee could legitimately ask us to come back in half a year and say as part of the gender review and the second stage of the gender review, 'How does this look now?' Because one of the things I really like about the gender review is that it's pushed that external view of the Welsh Government, and so, actually, it's what we've not been good at. I could tell you, Jenny, that we have four working groups with health and whatever, but it's not useful. What you need to know is: how does that integrate into the delivery framework?

Yes, very quickly, as health is little mentioned in the delivery framework, yet it's crucially important, is it right to assume that health wasn't involved in devising the delivery framework in the first place?

No, they have been involved, but not in the upfront way that they probably should have been. So, it's not true to say they weren't involved, but I think they could have had a more upfront involvement in that.

Thank uou, Chair. It's just moving on to local strategies, and you've talked about being more realistic about the time frames. So, the local strategies weren't all published by May 2018, am I right in saying that?

They were all in draft by May, but they weren't all published in May, partly because of the need to consult and get Cabinet sign-offs and so on—just the usual sort of processes—but they have all been published now.

They've all been published. And will they be published in a central location?

No. They're published on their own websites, but we can let you have those.

Because is that a concern—that they're not being published in a central location and perhaps on local websites?

One of the things that we're very keen on doing, with my other hat on—my data hat on—is not making people send us stuff that we're not going to do anything with. So, the big issue for us is that they get published in a place where the people who need to see it and use it for planning can easily access it, and in an open and transparent way, so that the data is usable. So, I'd be reluctant to pool things centrally for no reason. We can make sure that the websites have links to each other so that people can pick them all up if they want to, but with my data hat on, I'm very keen that people publish open data—source data—on their own website so that people can use it in a realistic way.

No, they've been published regionally.

We can send the committee the links to all of the—

How many are there? That's what I'm trying to understand.

There are seven, actually, because Bridgend has been a stand-alone local authority while they were deciding which health board they were going to be linked with.

And what was the effect of developing local strategies before the delivery framework and commissioning guidance were published?

So, that's part of this conversation about stepping back a little bit and trying to get to grips with what's actually happened on the ground. So, in some ways, that's been very useful, Jayne, because it's allowed us to have a realistic conversation with the people actually delivering things. Although it might seem a little 'cart before the horse', it means we've actually been able to learn from some of the things that have gone on. So, actually, it's turned out to be quite useful. 

The officials are going through the process or have just finished.

10:50

We've been through them, so, effectively looking at compliance with the regulations, but the national advisers will then be doing more of an in-depth, quality look at—. They don’t actually have to by law send them to us; they have to publish them, but we have said that we will give them a quality check, and then the national advisers will be working with the regions to strengthen their strategies for the next refresh.

I'll be as quick as I can. When will the national indicators be published? You've already referred to them.

Well, again, this is the issue that we’ve had with data. I wish I actually had that in front of me now, so I could remind myself. But it’s going to be incidences of reporting. We're going to have to rely on crime survey data for that. I’m going to have to come back to you on that, I’m afraid. Is it something that we can send the committee? Because it is actually still in draft, as well, and we are consulting, so I can only tell you what we’ve got in draft at the moment. That might change after the consultation.

This is very much the conversation that we were just discussing when Leanne asked the question about what data is out there, what we are monitoring, what we are asking people to return. So, actually, if the committee has ideas and would like to help us as part of the consultation, we'd be very grateful for that.

It's essentially what we covered in the development of the Act.

Next, again, you referred to the sustainable funding model in July. You again committed to exploring a sustainable funding model, I think, as you had previously, and this committee had highlighted that the year before, and so on. Can you, with confidence, tell us when you anticipate that that model will be—?

No. So, that's part of what we are saying. Yasmin Khan, one of the national advisers, is now chairing the expert panel group, and we are looking to see what we can come up with alongside the sector. I am really anxious, Mark, that we don’t drive another unintended consequence by doing something that the sector isn’t comfortable with and hasn’t really thought through. So, I’m much keener on getting it right than getting it fast, because I think we did drive some unintended consequences in the way that we did previous commissioning, and I don’t want that to happen again. The sector is struggling already. We know that the funding is inadequate, and I don’t want to drive any other unintended consequences. So, I'm much keener on getting this right.

But you have to have some agreed timescales, otherwise we could still be asking about this in 10 years' time.

Well, Yasmin is currently chairing the expert panel, and she's going to come back to me when she's got the first set together and tell me what her findings are, and then I'm happy to share that with the committee as soon as I have it. But I'm not going to pre-guess that. We've set the process in train; I'm not going to pre-guess the outcome.

If I may, while we might not have a model as such, we have other things in place. So, for example, we've got funding principles that the group has agreed. We've also got the regional commissioning guidance, which will be issued before the next financial year. So, those are two things that you can have definite time frames for.

But that's not the overarching thing you're asking about.

No, it's just an idea of time frames. I'm conscious, notwithstanding the sensitivities and— 

Well, the best I can do for you is say that as soon as Yasmin tells me what she thinks the time frame is, because that's what we've asked you to do, I'll share it with the committee. But I'm not going to pre-guess that.

Okay. Finally, the national advisers started with one part-time post, and now it's a shared post. Is it a shared part-time post or a shared full-time post?

If you don't mind. In response to the committee’s 2016 report, the Welsh Government said that work would be done to better align training delivered through the violence against women Act, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. Can you tell us what the outcomes of that work were? And, further to that, can you tell us, following on from the questions earlier about training—and you mentioned coercive control—are you satisfied that the training is comprehensive enough for people to be able to be aware of what coercive control is, to spot the signs? Do the police get that training, for example?

And then, we were talking about data. If people are spotting those signs, is there a way of collecting that information and sharing it with you so that you’ve got a picture about how much people understand what coercive control is? Because I'm seeing lots of failures on that front in many public sector organisations.

10:55

We've had a lot of discussion in the various groups and part of the complication of this is that when I came into post there were two or three groups that I chaired that I didn't think were functioning very well. So, we've actually redone the way that we do that, and I do think everybody's much happier with what we've now got. We had groups where virtually everybody in the sector was invited, we had large numbers of apologies each time; it was just all over the place. We've now got a much better structure where people feel their time is better used in coming forward.

Anyway, as part of that, we discussed the structure of the training, the 'ask and act' in particular. There were issues around, for example, how long the training is and, if you're already a seasoned practitioner, do you need to do all three days of the training, and all that sort of stuff. So, we've had quite a lot of intense discussions around the structure and content of the training. I think people are happy now that it covers what they want it to cover. In terms of collecting the data, I don't know the answer to that, I must say. Do you know the answer to that?

Who's trained—?

Once you've trained and you're out there practising and you pick people up—that sort of data.

No. The best we can do is look at referrals. It's not a perfect measure at all. You mentioned police. Because police aren't devolved, we're not able to train them, but I do know that they are being trained in coercive control. As I say, that's not our training, that's their own training.

But if red flags—. There's a lot of stuff that goes on online, for example, that is there for everyone to see there's coercive control happening—somebody somewhere should be picking up red flags, potentially.

That is why we have the campaigns launching next year.

Also, that's part of the conversation I was having about the MASHes. One of the great things about—. I don't know if you've had the chance to visit the MASH—there's one very locally to here in Cardiff; it's well worth going if you can manage it. But one of the issues—. That is exactly what they're there to do. You've got all the agencies there in the safeguarding hub, and they are able to cross-feed each other with this information and make sure that they're sharing all of that data. That data is data that we can use. The whole point of that is that you've got all of the agencies around the table so you're overcoming some of the data-sharing issues that just crop up all the time about whose information is this, whose data is it, who can see it, and all the rest of it. Chair, if you haven't had a change to visit the MASH, I'm sure you'd all really get a great deal out of it.

Part of my frustration is I like things that are neat and tidy, so I quite like a thing that works to work elsewhere. I haven't had any decent conversations with people where I've been convinced that their reasons for not doing it are actually really valid. So, I'm having quite a difficult conversation at the moment about why we need different structures in different places and do they actually add any value or should we be a bit more directional about saying, 'Look, this works—just do it; stop making excuses for why you're not doing it.' If there are legitimate local reasons, that's different, but I'm not convinced—you can hear I'm not convinced—that there are good local reasons for not doing it. It does seem to me to work very well and it overcomes the issue that you just mentioned and that we struggle with.

Can I just mention one other thing on 'ask and act'? First of all, if the committee wanted to do this, there is a low level everybody-in-your-organisation piece of training that you could do if you wanted to, just so you could experience it and see what it does. It's very interesting. Some of the registered social landlords do it so that, when they have repair people who go into a house and they see something, they're equipped with the right information on what to ask and so on and they can come back out to their car and look it up on their iPad and go back in and ask some of the other questions so they're not uncomfortable. RSLs are very important part of the structure for that. Also, the fire service, because people trust firemen, and they let them into their homes in circumstances they wouldn't let others in. So, it's been good penetration for that kind of service. 

Okay. I'm afraid we have about 30 seconds left. Could I just—notwithstanding your voice difficulties, leader of the house—just ask one final question? On the Istanbul convention—the Council of Europe's Istanbul convention—and the First Minister's statement that it has been ratified by Welsh Government, could you tell us exactly what that means? Is it about working towards satisfying the requirements of the convention? Are we assessed to have already met the requirements of the convention?

Unfortunately, we're not the member state, so we can't ratify it. So, we've done everything in the context of the powers devolved to Wales. He wants us to be seen as complying with the convention, because we do comply with the convention in all of the obligations that are within our powers. The First Minister has also written to the Prime Minister, urging her to sign up to the Istanbul convention.

11:00

So, does that mean that, in effect, the Welsh Government will assess itself as to whether it meets the requirements of the convention?

No, thank you very much for coming along this morning in very trying circumstances. You will be sent a transcript of the evidence to check for factual accuracy. Thank you very much indeed.

I really apologise to everybody for the coughing fits. 

3. Papurau i'w Nodi
3. Papers to Note

Okay. We'll move then to our next item, which is papers to note. Is the committee content to note paper 3.1? Thank you very much.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) i Wahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

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.

Motion moved.

The next item then is item 4, and that is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Is committee content so to do? Okay, we will move into private session.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:01.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:01.

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