Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb a Chyfiawnder Cymdeithasol

Equality and Social Justice Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Altaf Hussain
Jack Sargeant Yn dirprwyo ar ran Ken Skates yn ystod eitemau 1 i 4
Substitute for Ken Skates during items 1 to 4
Jane Dodds
Jayne Bryant Yn dirprwyo ar ran Ken Skates yn ystod eitemau 5 i 9
Substitute for Ken Skates during items 5 to 9
Jenny Rathbone Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Sarah Murphy
Sioned Williams

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Heledd Morgan Arweinydd Ysgogi Newid, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Lead Change Maker, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Jacob Ellis Arweinydd Ysgogi Newid: Materion Cyhoeddus a Rhyngwladol, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Lead Change Maker: Public Affairs and International, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
James Searle Pennaeth y Tîm Troseddu a Chyfiawnder, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Crime and Justice Team, Welsh Government
Jane Hutt Y Gweinidog Cyfiawnder Cymdeithasol
Minister for Social Justice
Karin Phillips Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr Diogelwch Cymunedol, Llywodraeth Cymru
Deputy Director for Community Safety, Welsh Government
Sophie Howe Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Angharad Roche Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Rachael Davies Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Rhys Morgan Clerc
Sam Mason Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

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.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 11:30.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 11:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau a dirprwyon
1. Introductions, apologies and substitutions

Prynhawn da. Welcome to the meeting of the Equality and Social Justice Committee, which is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv. We are a bilingual committee, so instant translation is available from Welsh to English. First of all, I'd just like to offer apologies from Ken Skates, but welcome Jack Sargeant, who has replaced him. Are there any declarations of interest from Members? Thank you.

2. Profiadau menywod yn y system cyfiawnder troseddol—sesiwn dystiolaeth 4
2. Women's experiences in the criminal justice system—evidence session 4

We'll move straight into our fourth session, then, on women's experiences in the criminal justice system. I very much welcome Jane Hutt, the Minister for Social Justice, and Karin Phillips and James Searle, from the Minister's office, on this issue. Thank you very much indeed for your presence, and thank you for your very comprehensive written evidence, Minister. We only have an hour, and we've got six areas we want to cover. We've all read your report, so no need to repeat what's in it, and if Members could be brief in their questions and, similarly, witnesses brief in their answers.

So, just starting off on this, it's 15 years since the Corston report recommended not sending women to prison in most instances. What progress do you think we're making in Wales on carrying that out?

Thank you very much indeed, Chair, and I really welcome the opportunity to come and give evidence. Of course, as well as my written evidence, which was substantive, I also gave an oral statement back on 22 November, so there is quite a lot of evidence—I hope you will agree—to show that we are making progress through the blueprint, through the women's justice blueprint, the female offending blueprint.

I think, basically, the thrust of what we're trying to do is to implement the recommendations of Jean Corston's seminal report—wasn't it? I remember when it was published and what an impact it had at that time. I think one of the key points of her report and her recommendation was that we should find ways in which we can keep women out of the justice system, particularly in terms of custodial sentences, that we should move into a holistic, preventative, gender-informed approach, recognising, as she said, and I recall it so well—and it's why we've argued against having a women's prison, actually, also in Wales—that we need to recognise the circumstances that women find themselves in, often, in the criminal justice system, and of course the evidence is very clear. So, then, we have to now show that the blueprint is being implemented. It is making a difference to women's lives.

Well, you know, of course, we have this partnership approach—the women's justice blueprint. It's a partnership with the Welsh Government, His Majesty's Prison and Probation Service—you've heard evidence—and policing in Wales. It's this blueprint approach, as we call it, which is bringing devolved and non-devolved—. The jagged edge, I'm sure we'll be discussing that as well. But it is showing, as a result of the implementation reports, which are published regularly, and in my written evidence and my oral statement earlier this week, that it is making an impact, particularly, I'll say, and I'm sure there will be a chance to say more about this, about the diversionary schemes that are now developing. I visited one on Thursday with Safer Wales, and you'll be aware of this, of course, in Cardiff, at their women's centre. And showing, in fact, in terms of the numbers of women who've had contact over a two-year period, over 2,000 women actually being able to access one-to-one support, diversionary early intervention and prevention, of course, which is so crucial.

I mean, we're not responsible, of course, as Welsh Government, for sentencing in the courts, but we are influencing, and they told us on Thursday very clearly that they're influencing the culture at every level in terms of sentencing and seeing that, actually, we can divert women away from the criminal justice system. That obviously is a key aim of the blueprint. But at every level, it needs to be not just early intervention but how we support women to ensure that they don't have to certainly have a custodial sentence: use our day services, use our one-to-one services, but also work on all of the issues that we are responsible for in the Welsh Government, which, of course, is violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, mental health, substance misuse. It's very much a cross-Government response. 


Very good. We're having difficulty, though, actually being able to see what impact all these different initiatives are having. The Cordis Bright evaluation isn't available at the moment. How do we know that the blueprint is working, particularly around these individual initiatives that have taken place slightly differently across Wales? Are there any figures available to show that the last 12 months for which figures are available are better than the previous 12 months that you could send us? 

I think in my written evidence I did give some evidence about the numbers of women in terms of diversion schemes who have been supported—on page 8, I gave those. So, you can see 2,239 are actually being supported, particularly through the diversionary schemes.

I would like to say something about this evaluation, because I'm frustrated that we haven't been able to share with you the public—. There is a summary document. I've asked officials and I've asked this of HMPPS today—I think that's right—can we please have this summary of the evaluation. I'd like you to have it before this is concluded, because I understand—I'm told—that it does actually show how effectively the women's pathfinder system, the diversionary system particularly, the whole-system approach, is having a positive impact on people's lives—that people are engaging, improving women's personal outcomes, how they engage with the criminal justice system, mental health and housing. You will have seen the evaluability assessment, which was published in October. So, hopefully that is in the public domain. 

We also are aware, in terms of numbers of women in custody, in terms of recent data, that the number of Welsh women in prison has decreased since the blueprint was approved and implemented last in 2019. Again, I have asked can we actually clarify that data—and I don't know, Karin, whether you want to say something, or James—because we know that a lot of data has been shared with you, but I want to make sure that you've got the latest. 

We can see how many people have been referred, but we don't know how many people have not been referred and are going straight to prison. 

These are some of the key questions, aren't they? I think the thing that I would want to emphasise in this space particularly is that, when we're talking about some of the challenges and some of the outcomes that we want to work towards, we're looking at a system, as the Minister said, where the causes of what's happening are incredibly complicated. And again, this goes back to the report in many ways, doesn't it? And when I think about female offending in particular, or offending more broadly, it's a multigenerational problem. It's so led by trauma, it's so led by adverse childhood experiences, and so many of the levers for change sit with so many different partners and there is so much collaboration and co-operation required to drive the systems level and cultural level changes that we want to see. Actually, it's not something where we want to go, 'Ah, fantastic, it's been four years and the blueprints have succeeded', especially considering everything else that has happened in that time period as well, especially COVID and the impact that that's had on both the driving of offending behaviours and those sorts of issues. For me, when we look at offending and crime and trying to make diversionary schemes work, it's about taking that multigenerational approach not just to our work but to success. And when you look at what we're doing with the blueprint, some of the diversionary schemes that we're funding, what's really clear is that they're really firmly based in that evidence of what works, and the local signs that we're seeing are really, really positive. So, I would never—  

But I do think we need to provide the updated data as well. 

Absolutely. Yes. 

Okay. That's very useful. Just finally from me, there's obviously increasing pressure for magistrates to send people to prison for longer. That's not, obviously, your responsibility, but it does rather go against everything that you're trying to achieve with the women's blueprint. How are we going to evaluate the success of the blueprint against the trends in the other direction?


Keeping women out of prison is the key goal, isn't it? In terms of sentencing, women have got shorter sentences, because, obviously, it's a very low level of crime that they're being sentenced to prison for. We know that with a short sentence, actually, there is—. From your visits to Eastwood Park and Styal, you'll know that actually, it can be quite difficult to do all the trauma-informed work and support that James has talked about.

But clearly, our drive is to keep women out of prison, and to ensure that we look—. The focus, of course, is on our pilot for a women's residential centre as an alternative to prison, where women will be able to have all of that range of multi-agency support when they're actually in the women's residential centre. So, our focus is very much on that—keeping women out of prison, a diversionary approach, because we don't want to have to have those sentences. And certainly, longer sentencing, you'll be picking that up with magistrates—

Can I bring in Altaf Hussain, because I know he's got some specific questions on prevention? We'll come back to residential centres. Altaf Hussain.

Thank you, Chair. Good morning, Minister. I will be asking about early intervention and prevention. HMP Eastwood Park said they're seeing acutely mentally unwell individuals being sent to prison, and this is more of an issue with women coming from Wales than England. What actions are being taken to ensure this does not happen?

[Inaudible.]—something, obviously, where this is such a cross-Government inquiry, isn't it? My colleague the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle, and I've addressed it in my written evidence—. This is where our Welsh Government mental health strategy is so important, isn't it, Altaf, in the delivery plan, to focus on vulnerable groups.

Every health board, of course, also has to have a mental health and criminal justice liaison service working, and looking at those who are vulnerable, who are in the criminal justice system already, and also to try and again be part of the partnership to divert women away from the criminal justice system. It needs lots of very good collaboration between criminal justice partners and health and social care. I'm sure you will recognise that mental health has been given a greater priority in our programme for government as part of the £50 million that's gone in for mental health and well-being.

Of course, we do have this situation where if women are in Eastwood Park, the health services there are responsible, the health bodies in England, but after the transfer back, they’re our health bodies' responsibilities. So, I think this this feedback from Eastwood Park is really important, because it just shows that women in that situation, with that vulnerability with mental health needs, shouldn't be there. We want to divert them away.

When I went to the women's centre on Thursday with the Counsel General at Safer Wales, I met women there who obviously had experienced a lot of trauma in their lives, but they felt so supported in this women's centre. They were actually also very much in charge of what was happening to them on a day-to-day basis. We met the teams, one-to-one support. We need to look at this as a real opportunity to keep women out of prison, and say, ‘Our services divert away’. We've given you the statistics of how many women are in touch with that diversionary service, but then, they should benefit from all the work and the priority that we as a Welsh Government, and Lynne Neagle, are placing on women with mental health needs. It's very much likely to be linked to women who have also had trauma in terms of domestic violence as well. Housing, substance misuse needs; it all comes together, doesn't it?

Thanks, Minister. Coming to substance misuse, evidence suggests women have a complex range of issues, as you pointed out, including substance misuse. What consideration has the Welsh Government given to developing residential rehabilitation, as we have, for example, in Plymouth or Neath?


Fortunately, I co-chair, and I'm chairing on Thursday, the policing partnership board, where we bring together chief constables, police and crime commissioners, HMPPS, local government, the health service and we discuss issues, particularly like substance misuse, mental health needs. I think housing is on the agenda, homelessness is on the agenda, winter and preparing for the winter health needs. These are all issues that policing are concerned about. In fact, Lynne Neagle has been to the last two meetings of the policing partnership board talking about strategies in terms of substance misuse and how we can, again, see this as part of the trauma that so many women face.

I'm not aware of those services that you mentioned; it's not in my portfolio. You may wish to get evidence from Lynne Neagle herself. But I will say that Lynne and I visited a women's centre in Richmond Road in Cardiff, the Nelson Trust centre. It's not a residential centre, it's got money from HMPPS, but it had some money from our community facilities programme for capital funding. We met women who have seen the benefit of that intensive access to support, not just for substance misuse—mental health services, lots of diversionary activity. There was a crèche there, because it was a day centre. It's a great place, which you may have visited. This is where we see a real opportunity in terms of substance misuse policies working at the forefront, but recognising this is all part of a public health, trauma-informed approach to supporting women. I'm sure you've learned a lot from the evidence given about these other services as well.

Thank you very much, Minister. I think Jane wants to ask you something—

Thank you. A really quick question. You mentioned the Nelson centre, and we have heard a lot of information and evidence around both the Nelson centre and the centre in north Wales, which are non-residential centres. One of the major issues raised by both, though, is around sustainable funding, so could you just give us a little bit of insight, if that's okay, Chair, into what the commitment is from the Welsh Government around sustainable funding for those non-residential community centres, please? Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much, Jane. I've mentioned with the Nelson Trust centre in Cardiff that we've given some capital funding. Their main bulk of funding comes from the Ministry of Justice and HMPPS. The north Wales women's centre, where I've visited on more than one occasion, also get funding from HMPPS. We've given one-off funding to the north Wales women's centre in times past. They've had a budget. I think, also, the police and crime commissioner provides support to the north Wales women's centre.

This is absolutely right, Jane; we need to have a more sustainable model of funding where it is principally—. It should be the Ministry of Justice, HMPPS, UK Government. But Welsh Government is committed and has, indeed, funded through our budget for the blueprints. We've also sought to fund the whole blueprint. But this is a key point for the future, I think, revenue and capital. I'm looking forward to going to visit the women's centre at Eastwood Park, which opened in December. I don't know if there's anything more on funding, Karin, that you want to say in terms of the way forward.

Just to mention that Emma Wools, who has given evidence but is also the project manager for the women's justice blueprint, has confirmed that they will be looking at funding and at the funding model as part of the blueprint moving forward, as part of the roll-out of the diversionary system across Wales.


Oh, right, yes. You mentioned domestic violence and abuse there as well, and I just wanted to raise that, in the 'Women in Prison' report from October 2022, it said that the figures show that, in England and Wales, black women are over two times more likely to be arrested than white women, and are more likely to receive a custodial sentence at the Crown Court. As well as that, when disclosing domestic abuse to the police, black women are 14 per cent less likely to be referred for specialist services than white women, denying them swift support that can often be a lifeline. So, just to ask: what discussions have you had with the UK Government and the Ministry of Justice about these stark figures?

Well, these are stark figures. In my written evidence, again, I said that we'd commission research to better understand the needs of women from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds, but also said that there's going to be part-time specialist worker employed—that was in my written evidence—to provide that front-line specialist support and a much more tailored intervention service. Now, my understanding is that we have that specialist worker in place—

That's right.

—and responding directly from that kind of evidence. We haven't—. The research, as well, I think that's been commissioned.

Not yet commissioned, but it is certainly planned.

It's planned. So, I think the fact that we need to—. This links, to me, very much to the 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan', and the fact that justice forms one of the stands of the 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan', I think, does show that we are, as a Welsh Government, even though justice isn't devolved—. We can see the jagged edge operating between what's devolved and non-devolved in all these questions and in your evidence. But the 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan' does demonstrate that we want to take responsibility, because it is the experience of black, ethnic minority women who, every day, perhaps face those extra barriers, and it's proof in the statistics. So, you need dedicated specialist workers and you need to undertake that research and identify what those barriers are, and, hopefully, again, that will take us forward.

Okay. One last question, Altaf, and then I'm going to come to Sarah.

Thank you very much, Chair. Minister, you talked about having training to all these staff who are involved in looking after ethnic minorities. My last question is: what actions are being taken to ensure survivors of gender-based violence can access support to prevent them entering the criminal justice system? And does the Minister feel that enough is being done to help those in prison access support for specialist violence against women services?

The issues around training and access to training and trauma-informed training, which, I think, is part of your question, is part of the blueprint, and it's the professionals who need that training. And, of course, that includes—. They need to have that training about women's life experiences, and also the experiences of women with protected characteristics in relation to black and ethnic minority women's circumstances, and disabled women. We need to ensure that all of those are recognised. The training package that's been developed as part of the blueprint is a trauma-informed training package, and it's been spread across many networks of professionals who are engaged, and the all-Wales women in justice board and the safer communities network are responsible for that. But I think that training needs and looking at the training needs analysis is important. We're looking at an evaluation of the training itself, aren't we?

Okay. So, this is going to involve all the agencies who are involved in the criminal justice system in Wales, regardless of who their employer is?

That is the intention, and there's a roll-out. And already, from some of the feedback and looking at where there's perhaps a propensity of short-term sentences, a more focused approach will be adopted in those areas as well.


Thank you very much. Can I ask some questions about the women’s residential centre? Because we’re looking at community-based options, so, obviously in May 2020 this is announced by the UK Government. It would be a first pilot in Wales. Subject to planning permission, it’s going to be in Swansea. It’ll be a 12-bed centre, will open in 2024 and cost £10 million. It will accommodate 50 offenders a year who would otherwise have been given a prison sentence of 12 months or less. Through our evidence we’ve also managed to find out that it will only be an option to women in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot area—that’s what the probation service told us. They will be able to leave during the day and come back, so they aren’t technically incarcerated. It will be for stays of up to three months, and we have had questions about whether or not that’s enough time to get into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme and start to see a meaningful difference. Also, it’s very vague on whether there have been discussions with the local authority, who will obviously be the people who are providing the holistic, the health, the housing services, which is very concerning.

Okay, I think lots of questions there. Shall we ask—?

No, no. So, my question is: what is the update as to your understanding? And also, what you think could be the key benefits and shortfalls of it.

Well, thank you very much, and this is crucial to the blueprint, and actually crucial to what Jean Corston was asking of us. One of her recommendations—and I was just checking up what Jean Corston said, in terms of her recommendations, recently—is she said:

'The government should announce...a clear strategy to replace existing women’s prisons with suitable, geographically dispersed, small, multi-functional custodial centres within 10 years.'

So, in a sense, I have to say that we’ve worked hard to get this women’s residential centre in Wales, and it is the pilot. If you look back to when this was agreed, it was announced back in May of this year, and it was regarded as a groundbreaking residential women’s centre. I hope very much that we can demonstrate that this will be the case. We are being piloted for England and Wales as an alternative to women’s prison, so it is vital that we get this right, and I do really appreciate the committee looking into this so carefully, because this is a pioneering new centre. As the press statement said at that time, it is

'designed to tackle the root causes of low-level female offending.

'The 12-bed Residential Women’s Centre...for around 50 offenders a year who would have otherwise been handed a prison sentence'.

So, I have to say that that’s joining up with the Ministry of Justice. It was the prisons Minister who announced that pilot for the women’s residential centre. I think we’ve got great faith that this is going to be the centre that we need to take forward, and it will be in Swansea. We understand—in fact, I think Lord Bellamy announced last week at another committee, the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee—that they will be appealing against a decision by the local authority against the particular site that’s been allocated to it.

Our view is that this is going to be a centre where women will get all of that multi-agency trauma-informed support. There will be non-residential as well as residential. The women who will go there will go as a result of having sentences to go to this women’s residential centre. If they didn’t go there, they’d be going to Eastwood Park. It will meet the needs of local women, so that they can keep in contact with their families, and it will be run by the national probation service, which is now, after privatisation, a national probation service for Wales.

We've been meeting the workers and indeed the unions. There was a Unison meeting that I went to, a meeting with probation workers, and they want to play their part in this women’s residential centre, which I believe will be transformational for women, and also for their families, because it's the children, and the distance is 100 miles to Eastwood Park. This is where the courts have seen the needs in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, so I, obviously, have got great faith that this women's centre will work. It's a key component, obviously, of the justice blueprint.


Yes. Thank you very much. I just want to do a quick follow-up question on what Jane Dodds had said earlier on as well about the funding, because we did hear evidence from the Prison Reform Trust, Clinks and the Howard League for Penal Reform that the women's centres would do more good than this pilot. They said if they were funded better, they could do more good. So, I just wanted to say—. You mentioned the Nelson Trust in the prison at Eastwood Park, and we visited it, it is wonderful, and it's making a real difference. Like you said, it empowers the women, it's a safe space for them, it can deal with—. They don't always have just one issue; it's many issues, and it's built up over a long period of trauma. But the only problem is that the funding has been wonderful, the centre is ready, but it runs out at the end of April, and it's taken quite some time to get it up and off the ground. And so, they've only really just been able to start making a difference, and they really—. The problem is as well that the women who work there are very specialist, and with the cost-of-living crisis now, they will have to start looking for other jobs. So, they're afraid that they've just got it all together, it's all up and running, and then people are going to end up leaving because there's that uncertainty around sustainable funding.

Yes. I'm visiting the Eastwood Park women's centre on 19 January with Mick Antoniw, the Counsel General. We're doing a range of joint visits. In fact, he came with me to the women's centre on Thursday, run by Safer Wales, and we're going up to Berwyn and looking at other opportunities to see where we're devolving justice and making sure that our responsibilities that we are delivering in terms of, particularly, the blueprints. Actually, that women's centre at Eastwood Park was opened by a UK Government Minister. There's no way they're not going to continue funding that centre.

Thank you very much. Sioned Williams, would you like to ask your questions?

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Bore da, Gweinidog. Un o'r pethau rydym ni wedi clywed y mwyaf o sôn amdano fe yw effaith ddinistriol y dedfrydau byrion ar fywydau menywod, a sut mae hynny yn hollol ddiystyr o ran ceisio eu hadfer nhw a'u hailsefydlu nhw yn y gymdeithas, o gael unrhyw fath o effaith bositif arnyn nhw. Rydych chi wedi cyfeirio at y ffaith i chi deimlo, er bod ni ddim wedi gweld y data, fod y dedfrydau byrion yn dod lawr. Pam felly ydych chi'n meddwl bod menywod yn dal yn cael dedfrydau byr o garchar? Ac ydych chi'n cytuno â dadansoddiad Dr Rob Jones fod polisïau Llywodraeth y Deyrnas Gyfunol yn tanseilio amcanion y glasbrint yn hyn o beth? Ai datganoli cyfiawnder yw eich nod chi fel Llywodraeth?

Thank you, Chair. Good morning, Minister. One of the things we've heard mentioned most is the destructive impact of short prison sentences on women's lives, and how they are meaningless in terms of trying to rehabilitate them in society, and having any kind of positive impact on them. You have referred to the fact that you feel, even though we haven't seen the data, that these short sentences are coming down. Why then do you think that women are still receiving short custodial prison sentences? And do you agree with the analysis of Dr Rob Jones that Government policies at the UK level undermine the objectives of the blueprint in that regard? Is the devolution of justice your aim as a Government?

Sioned, those are all really important questions, some of which—. I'm not a sentencer, and we're not responsible for all those issues, and I'm sure you will have taken evidence. I know you took evidence from magistrates and HMPPS in terms of the impacts of those short custodial prison sentences. We know that this is about minor offences, isn't it? This is why they're getting these short-term sentences for minor offences, and that goes back to why I think it's so important that we are pursuing the residential women's centre for a holistic supportive approach as an alternative to being in a custodial setting like Eastwood Park or Styal. But also, it is part of the work stream of the women's blueprint, and it's a devolved and non-devolved blueprint, to ensure that sentencers do fully understand the impact of unnecessary custodial sentences for those short-term sentences.

I have laid this out in my written evidence that there's been engagement with sentencers. I think the latest figures—I don't know if you've got them, James—. I think I said 270 in the written evidence, but it's more than that now.


That's right. And just this year alone, in 2022 so far, five events have been delivered, which over 200 probation clerks have attended, and those events were sent out through His Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service to all magistrates and clerks in Wales. So, again, that work is going out there to ensure that that awareness is there. Thinking about Sioned's questions, as well, about Rob Jones's book and where that sits, there's a really important balance here, and, as a Government, we're very clearly committed to the devolution of justice, and we have a specific programme for government commitment around this. However, that long-term systems change in our overall goal that we want to work towards has to be balanced with the need to support women who are vulnerable in the system now, and that's our responsibility here on this side of the table, to look at the resources that we have across partners and to find the best way to work together to support women in the system now, even though the system is not as we would like it to be, in the longer term scheme of things.

Well, I mean, James has given a very good ministerial response to your questions, Sioned. Obviously, I can understand Dr Robert Jones's concerns about the impact of what's happening now for women in the criminal justice system, and I very much welcome the book and the research that they've undertaken. And I'm very much concerned about it, because I think, absolutely, what it identifies is 'the jagged edge', as it's called, that book. But, you know, we are committed to follow through the Thomas commission recommendations for the devolution of justice to Wales and, actually, I'm very pleased that, although we want more, last week, the Gordon Brown report, his convention report, was recommending that probation and youth justice should be devolved to Wales, and that's a lot for us to prepare for.

My view about what we're doing now, and what Robert is saying about where our time should be spent, is that we have an absolute responsibility to women now in the criminal justice system. In 2019 we developed the female offending blueprint. It's very much following up the Jean Corston report, as you queried earlier on today, in terms of the impact of her report and recommendations from her report. It's following it through with good will and purpose, with a multi-agency approach. You've met those who are leading it—Emma Wools, Nicola Davies, from the probation service and from HMPPS, and a whole range of voluntary organisations: Safer Wales, Llamau, Include—and we're linking it to our 'Anti-racist Wales Action Plan' and our violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence strategy. So, we have an absolute responsibility to deliver on that blueprint. We're investing in it; it's in our budget. We've put money into it—Welsh Government—even though there are areas that could and should be Ministry of Justice, and, of course, everything that affects women—mental health, housing, all of that—is our responsibility in terms of diversion and then rehabilitation when people come out of prison. So, I want to just say again, we have to now support women in this situation. But, actually, in supporting women in this situation, we are preparing for the devolution of justice, in my view. We're showing how it should be done, we're preparing for it, and the pilot of a women's residential centre is key to that, as well as all the work we're doing through our diversionary projects.

Diolch, Gweinidog. O ran yr hyn sy'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd—ac roedd yn ddiddorol clywed fanna am yr ymdrech i godi ymwybyddiaeth ymhlith dedfrydwyr—wrth gwrs, rŷn ni wedi clywed yn ystod yr ymchwiliad yma nad oedd 50 y cant o ynadon a wnaeth ymateb i arolwg gan Gymdeithas yr Ynadon yn ymwybodol o'r glasbrint a ddim yn ymwybodol o nodau'r glasbrint. Felly, allaf i ofyn ichi sicrhau inni fod yna werthusiad yn cael ei wneud o'r ymdrechion yna i godi ymwybyddiaeth? A dwi jest eisiau gofyn i chi pam rŷch chi'n meddwl wnaethon nhw ddweud hynny pan wnaethom ni gasglu tystiolaeth ganddyn nhw, achos mae'n amlwg o ran y dedfrydau sy'n cael eu rhoi efallai nad ydynt chwaith yn ymwybodol o'r opsiynau dedfrydu sydd ar gael iddynt.

Thank you, Minister. In terms of what's happening currently—and it was very interesting to hear there about the effort to raise awareness amongst sentencers—of course, we have heard during this inquiry that 50 per cent of magistrates who replied to the survey by the Magistrates' Association were not aware of the blueprint and weren't aware of the aims of the blueprint. So, could I ask you to give us an assurance that an evaluation of those efforts to raise awareness will be undertaken? I just wanted to ask you why you think they said that when we gathered the evidence from them, because it's clear from the sentences that are given that they're perhaps not aware of the sentencing options that are available to them either.


Thank you. I've given you the figures already of the contacts that have been made with sentencers—the 270 contacts and more—and it's a part of the blueprint, it's a work stream of the blueprint that they work with magistrates, and magistrates, of course, are an association. I think it's very important that this inquiry will help draw attention to magistrates, to what the opportunities are in terms of alternative sentencing—sentencing to diversionary and non-custodial sentencing. Magistrates have a whole range of options in terms of their support and sentencing for women in the criminal justice system, and I'm sure you will have had some indication of the response from magistrates. It is part of the work stream. We've not completed this work; the implementation will show us the impact of that. I hope very much that magistrates will respond to this inquiry and to the Welsh Government and that work stream.

Can I just quickly finally say that what was interesting to learn on Thursday when we went to the women's centre for Safer Wales is that because of these diversionary programmes that are operating in south Wales and Gwent, they say that there's a cultural change happening, and that's crucially important in the criminal justice system? They're saying that when women end up in a situation, perhaps, 24/7, then the police have a responsibility to know, 'What are we going to do in terms of, maybe, a woman who has experienced domestic violence, low-level offending, substance misuse?'. They're looking now—and they have people placed in the custodial suites from Safer Wales—at diversion, about, 'How can we support this woman?', not, 'How can we charge her and send her to prison?' There is a cultural change that's happening because of these blueprints, because we're implementing them together, and police are changing as a result of this. So, I want to see that rolled out across the whole of Wales; it's cultural change we need. And the magistrates have got a responsibility. We need to have more diverse representation in magistrates, don't we? We know it's a big commitment, but we need to also encourage more people to come forward to be magistrates, to recognise that this is going to result in major change, and keep women out of prison, support them in their needs, because when you're supporting them with their needs, it's prevention, and that's what Jean Corston always said—it's prevention, early intervention and diversion. 

I think, Sioned, we need to move on. We need to move on. We'll come back to you if there's time, but Jack Sargeant wanted to raise some questions about those in custody.

Diolch, Cadeirydd, and good afternoon, Minister. The children's commissioner highlighted to the committee the need for the small home pilot in north Wales, but also expressed concern to the committee that that pilot isn't in operation there. I wonder if the Minister could give the committee an indication of when we might see or when we're likely to see that being in operation in north Wales.

Well, this is something that is very much shared with my colleague Julie Morgan, the Deputy Minister for Social Services. In fact, last year we visited Hillside together. We've visited Hillside on more than one occasion. And I met with the UK Government Minister that year to say how we're moving forward on this justice and welfare support of young people. I think one of the important things that came out of that meeting with the Minister, and, indeed, our visit to Hillside, is that we should have small homes and we should have children in welfare justice systems co-located in the same building and site, and we have the small homes project. Now, this is a shared responsibility—I'm just turning to Karin because she's on the steering group that's been set up, but it's actually being led by Julie Morgan's official, Alistair Davey. It's a shadow project board, and we want to see this move forward. It will be expensive, we'll have to have capital allocated into it, but it will be small homes across Wales, and that's what we need.


Okay. We'll have to take a break in order to resolve this matter.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 12:15 a 12:16.

The meeting adjourned between 12:15 and 12:16.

Thank you, Chair. I wonder if I could make a suggestion, because I know we're pressed for time, that perhaps the committee can write to Julie Morgan to get some further detail on the small homes pilot.

Minister, just turning to substance misuse treatment in prisons, I believe the committee, in the visit to Eastwood Park in particular, were told by those women that they weren't getting the same treatment as English women. For example, I think it's Buvidal monthly injections, where actually Welsh women were receiving methadone instead, as a daily injection. I think the reason behind this, or certainly the reason expressed to the committee, was because they were Welsh, which is rather concerning. I just wonder if there's any further action you could take as the Welsh Government to press the importance of equality and fair treatment of women from all nations.

Well, again, I think this shows the difficulties about not being responsible for all the services that affect Welsh women. We would rather they weren't in an English prison and that they were here in Wales and that we were providing for their needs. So, as you know, as I said before, the health service in English prisons is run by their health boards, and we're aware, particularly—. I mean, Buvidal is not an option across the NHS in England. So, I'm going to, with your permission, Chair, raise this tomorrow. I'm meeting, actually, the prisons Minister tomorrow, Damian Hinds, and, as you've raised it with me today, I'll raise it with him, because there's no continuity of care either, is there, in terms of coming into a prison in England from Wales. Actually, I have to say, a former—we've had so many 'former'—Minister who came to our policing partnership board—a UK Government Minister; Kit Malthouse, I think it was—praised us for having Buvidal in Wales and thought it should be in England. So, I'm going to raise it tomorrow with the Minister.

Thank you. If you could write to us subsequently, if that's possible.

Just quickly, Chair, as we are pressed for time, but I wonder if—. This leads us on to a good point, and it's more of a comment from me and a request for the Minister: when you do meet with the prisons Minister of the UK Government, I wonder if you could also raise the treatment of healthcare needs in general, because we've heard from the RCN that women in Wales who are in prison in England find it difficult to access healthcare treatments in Wales, and I know NHS England and His Majesty's Prison Service are carrying out a review into this, but concerningly, I think, for the committee, the UK Health Security Agency, who is a partner in the review, said they were unable to say if they were actively considering the needs of Welsh women. So, I think, in your discussions, it might be worth reporting back to the committee as well, and I'll leave it there, Chair.

Can I just quickly say that I wanted to mention earlier on that I was meeting the prisons Minister tomorrow and that I'll also raise with him the issue about the funding that Sarah raised, about the funding of the women's centre? And I'll raise the issue about health, not just the access to Buvidal, in English prisons, but also we do have a responsibility in Wales, once women are resettled in Wales. And I just wanted to inform you that we've now got a new health and justice co-ordinator for our blueprints—a dedicated women's resource—because we've got to make sure that we get it right in Wales, not just through diversionary work, to keep women out of prison, but, when they actually are resettled, that they get the right—. So, there is a dedicated new work stream in the blueprint. 


Very good. Altaf, did you have a brief supplementary, before I move to Jane Dodds? You've muted yourself.

[Inaudible.]—about this Buvidal. It is true that they blamed it on the funding and said it was true about the offending of the people who are discharged from the rehab centre. Thank you, Chair. 

Jane Hutt—. Jane Dodds, I beg your pardon. Could you come in now?

Ie, diolch yn fawr iawn, Cadeirydd. Mae gen i ddau gwestiwn, os gwelwch yn dda, un yn canolbwyntio ar blant—hynny yw, plant sydd â rhieni sydd yn y carchar. A allwch chi roi ryw fath o gynllun ynglŷn â beth ydych chi'n ei ddeall ynglŷn â sut mae plant a rhieni yn gallu cadw mewn cysylltiad pan fo eu mam nhw yn y carchar, os gwelwch yn dda?

Yes, thank you very much, Chair. I have two questions, the first focusing on children—that is, children of parents who are in custody. Could you give us some kind of plan in terms of what you understand regarding how children and parents can keep in contact when the mothers are in custody? 

Diolch yn fawr, Jane. Well, I think in my written evidence I did give a section on support for women and their children, particularly focusing on the Visiting Mum service, which again the Welsh Government is funding—the Prison Advice and Care Trust Visiting Mum service that has gone live, obviously, as you know, in Eastwood Park and Styal. This is a fundamental recognition in the blueprint of the need to enable mothers in prison to be in contact with their children, and I think also recognising that there needs to be wraparound support. Visiting Mum is about positive relationships. I put it all in my written statement to you today, but I understand now that we've got up to 48 engagements that have taken place—in fact, more; that was the last date. Do you want to confirm, Karin, about that?

I believe it's 68, Minister. 

Sixty-eight. That's one example, anyway, of Visiting Mum making an impact. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Gweinidog. Un o'r pethau roedden ni'n clywed yn Styal, pan oeddem ni yna, oedd y ffaith dyw mamau ddim yn cael digon o amser efo'u plant nhw. Roedd PACT yna—dwi ddim yn sicr a ydych chi wedi clywed am PACT, ond roedden nhw'n gweithio'n effeithiol iawn. Oes yna rhywfath o gynllun i wneud yn siŵr bod PACT yn cael yr arian mae angen iddyn nhw ei gael i wneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw'n canolbwyntio ar y cysylltiad yna rhwng plant a'u mamau?

Thank you very much, Minister. One of the things that we heard in Styal, when we were there, was the fact that mothers don't have enough time with their children. PACT were there—I'm not sure whether you've heard about PACT, but they were working very effectively. Is there any kind of scheme to ensure that PACT receives the funding that they need to ensure that they were focusing on that connection between the children and their mothers?

Well, again, we are funding the Visiting Mum scheme, alongside the UK Government. We need to—. And this is going to be—. There are, again, huge budget pressures and priorities that we face. We want to take responsibility by providing this funding, but we certainly need to engage with the women in Styal and Eastwood Park to see how is it working, how PACT is working, do we need to make the call for more funding to ensure that they can have longer visits and also just to assess—those are 68, as Karin has said, good contacts that have already been made—what the quality of those contacts has been, because I think that's the key point you're making. 

Ie. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Y cwestiwn olaf gennyf i, a hynny ar y mynediad allan o garchar y mae menywod yn ei gael. Rydyn ni wedi clywed bod yna broblemau a sialens ynglŷn â menywod yn cael mynediad allan i dai sy'n effeithiol a hefyd ar gyfer iechyd ac iechyd meddwl. Hynny yw, y transition rhwng carchar a mynd yn ôl i'r gymuned. Pa fath o gynllun neu agwedd sydd gennych chi ynglŷn â sut mae hynny'n gweithio?

Yes, thank you very much. A final question from me now, and that is about the access out of custody that the women have. We've heard that there is a challenge and there are some problems in terms of women having access to housing that is effective and also for health and mental health. That is, the transition between custody and returning to the community. So, what kind of scheme or plan do you have, or what's your attitude towards how that should work?


Diolch yn fawr, Jane. I wanted to—. Can I make a correction to my written evidence? I wanted to refer to the important work that is being undertaken by Glyndŵr university and Llamau to look at accommodation needs, and, unfortunately, in the written evidence, it actually says 'Bangor University', and it should say 'Glyndŵr university'. I've been following this up, because I think this is crucially important, about accommodation needs, leaving prison, but also this work that's being undertaken by Llamau and Glyndŵr. I think it's due to be published early in the new year, and we'd want to get this to you as quickly as possible. And they're looking at all of the options; they're looking at all of the accommodation opportunities, including, obviously, some of the community accommodation schemes, and different levels of accommodation that is provided for people at risk of homelessness, on probation still; we're looking at all of those options, and the Llamau and Glyndŵr work, the results, are due imminently.

Diolch, a jest yn canolbwyntio ar iechyd meddwl, er enghraifft, a detoxification, roedden i'n clywed wrth y menywod eu bod nhw'n poeni ynglŷn â beth oedd yn mynd i ddigwydd. A hefyd, y cwestiwn olaf olaf: approved accommodation—does yna ddim yng Nghymru. Beth ydy'r cynllun ynglŷn â hynny, os gwelwch yn dda? Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much, and focusing on mental health, for example, and detoxification, we heard from these women about their concerns about what was going to happen. And also the final final question: approved accommodation—there's none of that in Wales. What's the plan for that? Thank you very much.

Diolch yn fawr. I think another work stream of that's going on—. I've mentioned the Llamau and Glyndŵr work is looking at those issues, because it's looking at all of the needs that will come: health needs, including access to substance misuse services, strengthening any access to that kind of care, integration between Welsh and English services, which will be crucial to the women you met in Styal, and I did mention the fact that we've got this dedicated women's resource now, health resource, in terms of a health and justice co-ordinator team.

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Cadeirydd.

Thank you very much, Chair.

Okay. Finally from me, Lord Bellamy said that all women leaving prison are offered accommodation, yet the women we saw in both Eastwood Park and Styal said they were looking forward to just being given a rail ticket and told to get back to Wales. And also, in some instances, having been discharged, just went back to the town that they came from, because of family connections, but then found themselves on the street, and rapidly went back to the prison. So, there seems to be a disconnect here between what should be happening and what is actually happening, and what role, Minister, can you play in trying to ensure that what should be happening is happening?

Well, that is shocking feedback that you had from that visit, from that evidence you took in Styal. When I heard about it, and it came, obviously, in response to my oral statement, I asked for it to looked at. This should not be happening. It is the responsibility of the local authorities as well, liaising with—. And when I went to Eastwood Park, I was actually there when they were contacting local authorities where people were being resettled back home. I went to Styal as well, of course, and the same situation—. So, I do believe that particular feedback is being followed up, Karin.

And I want to just say that I do welcome the fact that this committee has undertaken this inquiry with such diligence, that you've met with women, you've visited, you've taken on board, and, clearly, you've got evidence from this jagged edge of devolved and non-devolved. There's a huge amount of goodwill and dedication to make this work, and we need to expose the inadequacies, and I think that's what you're doing.

But let's see this as a positive opportunity to make the blueprints work, and it is going to lead to proof that we need to devolve justice to Wales and devolve the criminal justice system, not just probation and youth justice—devolve criminal justice to Wales, which is what we would like to do—and we're learning and we're delivering as we go through the blueprint implementation.

Okay. Thank you very much indeed for your evidence. We'll obviously send you a transcript for you to check for accuracy, and also, with your permission, Minister, we'll write to you about various ends that we need to tie up for factual accuracy. Obviously, we would very much like to hear the outcome of your meeting with the prisons Minister later this week and any other up-to-date data that may enable us to see how the initiatives that have taken place are actually having an impact on the numbers of women being sent to prison.


Thank you very much, and I also undertake to get to you a summary of the Cordis Bright evaluation, hopefully in time for your concluding work on this inquiry.

3. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 (vi) a (ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitemau 4, 8 a 9 y cyfarfod
3. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 (vi) and (ix) to exclude the public from items 4, 8 and 9 of the meeting


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitemau 4, 8 a 9 y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) a (ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from items 4, 8 and 9 of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi) and (ix). 

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

We'll now take a short break and we will be returning in public session at 13:45, where we'll be hearing from the well-being of future generations commissioner. But, under Standing Order 17.42, can I get the committee's agreement to exclude the public from items 4, 8 and 9? Thank you.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:31.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 12:31.


Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 13:45.

The committee reconvened in public at 13:45.

5. Gwaith craffu blynyddol ar waith Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol Cymru
5. Annual scrutiny of the work of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Welcome back to the Equality and Social Justice Committee and, this afternoon, we're going to be scrutinising the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales. Before we start, I'd just like to say that we've had apologies from Ken Skates; I'm very pleased to welcome Jayne Bryant to join us instead. Are there any declarations of interest that anybody needs to make? Fine. In that case, I'll move straight on to welcoming Sophie Howe, the future generations commissioner; Heledd Morgan, the lead change maker; and Jacob Ellis, the lead change maker for public affairs and international. So, thanks very much, Sophie, for joining us. I just wondered if you can give us a quick overview of your latest annual report and the work since you last came to committee.

Thank you, Chair. It's lovely to be with you. I'll give some headlines from this year's annual report. Most of the work that we do stems from 'The Future Generations Report 2020', which was published in 2020, and following up on those recommendations, adapting and flexing them in line with current circumstances, for example, the cost of living. So, we've been tracking progress on those recommendations in 'The Future Generations Report', and we've identified that, in terms of the Welsh Government's response to that, 51 per cent of the commitments in the programme for government were aligned to the recommendations in 'The Future Generations Report', which we're quite pleased out.

We've been involved in shaping national policy in respect of the roads review, which has gone to Government but is yet to be fully announced; on housing retrofit, particularly financing the retrofit challenge; and been involved in helping the Government on net zero. And on the skills review and reviews of qualifications, again we're pleased to see that there is that shift from purely a focus on examinations towards a more assessment based, with only seven of the 28 subjects for examination focusing more on exams than other forms of assessment.

We've secured a number of changes in how public bodies are implementing the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and have been running a relationship management set-up, if you like, from my office, in response to the Public Accounts Committee inquiry, to try to provide better support to public bodies beyond Welsh Government. We've also reviewed the well-being assessments and provided advice on well-being plans to all of the public services boards across Wales.

We've launched the second phase of our future generations leadership academy. This is now up to 60—. Well, sorry, 50 young leaders across Wales have been through that programme and are championing the Act in their sectors, including the establishment from that of a future leaders academy based on that model within the south Wales industrial cluster, which has plans to decarbonise industry in south Wales.

We've been a proud ambassador to Wales in the world, representing Wales at COP, and we are seeing the development of legislation in Scotland, an appetite in Ireland and, of course, the UN commitment for a future generations declaration. We've raised awareness of the Act, had around 200 pieces of media coverage, appeared before six Senedd committee, supported young people around COP, and partnered with something called The Democracy Box, where we're working with young co-creators to create content on what the future generations Act means for young people. And then we've revised some of own internal approaches, so we're increasing the black, Asian and minority ethnic profile of my staff in particular, and introducing a domestic abuse policy.

Thank you. That's a whirlwind tour of all the things you've been doing. Thank you very much. Before I hand over to other Members, I just wanted to look at one specific that you highlighted in your annual report, and that's the 'Skills through Crisis: Upskilling and (Re)Training for a Green Recovery in Wales' report, which was an excellent report with the New Economics Foundation. Nevertheless, the level of progress on that was highlighted in the Warm Homes inquiry that this committee did earlier, and, in particular, we're very concerned that the net-zero skills plan still hasn't been published, even though, in the response to the report, it was promised for December, and it's now been kicked to some future date in the new year. I just wondered what input you might have had in joining up the dots between different Government departments.


My team, specifically Heledd—and perhaps I'll ask her to pick up on this—have been very involved from the position of there not being a net-zero skills plan in progress at all to pushing for the development of one, and then intervening and advising on what that should look like and joining up across Government. We've done a huge amount of work there, but perhaps I could bring Heledd in to give a more detailed answer to you, Chair, on what that looks like.

Thank you, Sophie. Thank you, Chair. As the commissioner started to outline, really, we've been advising this part of Government for quite a few years now on developments around this, trying to match up and highlight, as the 'Skills through Crisis' report did, really, some of the stark gaps and the persistent inequalities, unfortunately, in some of these industries for the future. So, most recently, I sat on an expert panel that had been commissioned, I understand, by the Cabinet member Jane Hutt, to look at how one might mainstream equality and look at a just transition to net zero, all with the aim of feeding into the new net-zero skills plan. I understand that that report and those findings from that panel are with Welsh Government officials, and perhaps that's contributed to some of the delay in publishing the net-zero skills plan. But what I would say, Chair, is that we have been quite encouraged by some of the other things that have been published by Welsh Government in this space, this year. The economic resilience and reconstruction mission was last year, but the new employability strategy, the five priorities—I also advised officials on that—are things that we'd really want to see. So, they are: future generations, tackling economic inequality, fair work for all, healthy work and learning for life. So, things are moving in the right direction, but I'm looking forward to seeing the published net-zero skills strategy plan as well.

Okay. Because we're not going to be able to decarbonise people's homes, if we haven't got the skills to do it, so that is something that is definitely a piece of work that needs to be done in the future. Can I pass over to Sioned Williams now?

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Hoffwn i hefyd ffocysu yn benodol ar un agwedd o'ch gwaith, sef eich papur diweddar chi ar yr argyfwng costau byw. Gallwch chi rannu gyda ni y negeseuon allweddol o'r papur yna?

Thank you, Chair. I would also like to focus specifically on one aspect of your work, namely your latest paper on the cost-of-living crisis. Could you share with us the key messages from that paper, please?

Yes, of course. The piece of work that—. I suppose it's important to say that the piece of work that we started doing on this was a number of months back, and we were working with a range of different stakeholders, really building on some of the things we had in 'The Future Generations Report', and looking at which ones you would prioritise and target in respect of the cost-of-living crisis. As those policies were developing—. This was pre some of the really challenging issues that came from the UK Government, and obviously the changing economic outlook as a result of some of those challenges. Nevertheless, the approach that we've taken is to try to look at, yes, we are in a cost-of-living crisis and things are really urgent for very many people, but what are the things that governments could do that would both ease some of that cost-of-living crisis in the short term and have longer term benefits across the range of well-being goals.

So, the areas that we've focused on have been public transport, and in particular free public transport for young people. I have to say, since publishing this, there's barely a week that goes by that I'm not in some forum somewhere. Last week, I was in a forum on creative skills, where stakeholders were saying that this is one of the main barriers to young people, in particular, being able to access work and training. We would like to see free public transport rolled out for everyone, but obviously recognising the cost implications of that, we think starting with the under-25s—. The reason behind that is, under-25s, the cost-of-living crisis, obviously we need to make sure that they're able to access skills, and embedding a mindset around use of public transport in those younger age groups tends to have that ongoing behavioural change implication.

Secondly, we reiterated what we said previously about a well-managed housing retrofit programme. We do think that there were missed opportunities with the levelling-up fund and the shared prosperity fund in that, had the UK Government and the Welsh Government come together with local authority partners to really focus those resources on delivering a well-managed housing retrofit programme across the social landlord sector, or the social housing sector, but also beyond, then we think we could have made a much bigger dent in the need for retrofit. We’re pleased to see the money that has gone in to social housing there, but it’s not enough across the board.

We really welcome what the Welsh Government have done in terms of announcing the publicly owned renewable energy company. Obviously that has really long term and potentially very exciting implications for the people of Wales in terms of clean energy at a low cost. With the benefit of hindsight, it is something that perhaps we would all have liked to have happened 10 years ago, so that we could be reaping the benefits of that now, but nevertheless it’s good that the Welsh Government are taking that on.

A long-term commitment to roll out food partnerships in every Welsh local authority. So, this is a multistakeholder collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sectors to improve food availability and affordability and promote healthy diets. And in some of the areas where they’re doing this, they’re also wrapping other support around—so, health advice, advice on debt, advice on access to benefits and a range of other things—and we think that, if we invest in that sort of model rather than just the crisis end of foodbanks, as it were, that is a much more sustainable model in the longer term.

Then again, recognising of course the cost implications of the basic income and the devolution challenges around a basic income, we still believe that there are—. We are excited by the pilots with care leavers. We think that there is scope for looking at that further in terms of could there be a basic income for people who are transitioning from jobs that are likely to not exist in the future into a kind of green economy, for example. So, we really want the Government to be thinking about how they can plan for the long term in terms of what a roll-out of that might look like subject to the success of the current pilot.


Diolch yn fawr. O ran yr hyn sydd wedi’i gyhoeddi gan Lywodraeth Cymru, rydych chi wedi rhestru nifer o bethau fanna, er enghraifft, trafnidiaeth—dŷn ni ddim wedi gweld unrhyw fesurau costau byw yn ymwneud â lleddfu cost trafnidiaeth. Ond, o ran yr hyn maen nhw wedi’i wneud, i ba raddau y mae'r ymatebion yna, yn eich barn chi, yn alinio â’r Ddeddf, ac yn enwedig o feddwl am yr effaith anghymesur y mae’r argyfwng costau byw wedi'i gael ar rai grwpiau penodol, fel menywod, fel pobl ifanc, fel pobl anabl, ac yn y blaen?

Thank you very much. As to what’s been announced by the Welsh Government, you have listed a fair number of things there, for example, transport—we haven’t seen any kind of cost-of-living measures regarding transport cost relief. But, in terms of what they have done, to what extent do you think those measures are aligned with the Act, especially thinking about the disproportionate impact that the cost-of-living crisis has had on some groups in particular, like women, like young people, disabled people, et cetera?

Yes, diolch. This cost-of-living plan, there are very many things that could be done in a policy context, but this was really designed to influence the budget, and of course the budget is being published tomorrow, so we don’t know as yet how much of this, if any, is being taken on board. What we do know, for example, on public transport, this is where we think the model that the Welsh Government is operating, I have to say, worked really successfully in COVID times—this model of social partnership—and there’s a real opportunity there for bringing that almost crisis partnership response that happened during COVID to this cost-of-living crisis.

We know that local authorities, for example, are already implementing some elements of free public transport. Cardiff have done some things over school holidays, Monmouthshire are doing free public transport on weekends in the run-up to Christmas. So, I think that the role for Government here might not be to say, 'Suddenly we found £100 million down the back of the sofa'—we know that that’s not going to happen—but actually bringing people together. When the Confederation of British Industry are raising with me, 'We’re talking to employers and this is one of the key barriers to young people accessing our skills and training'; when the creative sector are saying the same things; when those people working with young people in poverty are saying the same things, and local authorities are saying the same things, then actually I think there could be some bringing together to see what is possible in terms of the kind of incremental phasing towards free public transport.

In terms of the inequality impact, in everything that we do we apply all of the Wales seven well-being goals, and the intention is that these priorities in the cost-of-living plan are really addressing the issues for those who are most vulnerable in our communities. We know that disabled people and women, for example, rely more heavily on public transport than others. We know that the cost of food has a particular impact on women and children, and disabled people, of course, who are most vulnerable. Likewise in terms of the cost of energy bills, and so on; they are particularly profound for disabled people. So, in everything that we've considered here, we have looked at that equality dimension, and we're looking at that both in terms of how these measures can help in the short term and how these measures can help in the long term. 


Diolch. Diolch, Cadeirydd.

Thank you. Thank you, Chair. 

Thank you. Just following up on one point, it's the Department for Work and Pensions who should be paying for young people to be able to get to a job interview, isn't it? What conversations have you had, if any, with a non-devolved Government department on this? 

We haven't had any conversations with the DWP, but I think it's a point well made, Chair. I suppose the challenge is the very formal, 'Are you going for a particular job interview?', or what I seem to be picking up from all of these different stakeholders, which is just this sense of it being a barrier. I was talking about the Welsh Government bringing together through that social partnership model; perhaps the DWP should be part of those conversations. Because if it is an identified barrier across a range of different sectors, and there are all of these different players who have a part to play in perhaps addressing that, then, of course, they should be part of that conversation. 

Thank you. Thank you for sharing with the committee the section 20 review report, which was published today. I know Altaf Hussain has got some questions on that. 

Thank you very much, Chair. Good afternoon, commissioner. Will you give an overview of the section 20 review, including the process, key findings and recommendations? What challenges or barriers have you faced in engaging with senior officials as the review commenced? 

Thank you. I decided just over a year ago to commence a section 20 review into the machinery of Government. The reason why I launched that review was because I am of the view—and there's extensive evidence to suggest—that there are a number of progressive policies coming out from Welsh Government, and we've talked about a few them already this afternoon, but I wanted to be assured as I was coming towards the end of my term that, should there be a change in commitments, say, at a political level, for implementing the future generations Act, it would be sufficiently embedded in the machinery of Government to ensure that statutory duties were still met. 

I have undertaken this review in, I suppose, a different way to perhaps how the Wales Audit Office and other commissioners might undertake the review, in that we've applied the five ways of working in the legislation and we started this review off on a collaborative footing with Welsh Government—so, saying that we would work with them during the course of the review. What that has meant in practice is weekly meetings between my review team and Welsh Government officials and regular meetings between myself, the Permanent Secretary and senior officials in Welsh Government. We think—and I'll say a little bit more about that—at the moment that that collaborative approach has probably borne fruit, and has been a useful way of conducting these sorts of reviews. 

In terms of the findings of the review—so, some overarching findings—the Act and the extent to which it's being embedded in the DNA of Welsh public policy development and delivery continues to be world-leading. That is not to say that there aren't frustrations about how the Act is embedded in the machinery of Welsh Government, and, indeed, elsewhere. But every other Government, even the progressive ones—so, I would talk here about Canada, I would talk about New Zealand, I would talk about Finland, I would talk about Ireland—[Inaudible.]—developing their first well-being framework. Even those progressive Governments have not gone as far as Wales have done to really embed the approach in the DNA of Government and others.

The reach of the Act and enthusiasm for its commitments to what it aims to achieve have extended beyond those organisations covered by the Act. We are increasingly seeing third sector organisations—you know, we are pushing at an open door there, to be fair—but increasingly private sector organisations coming to us, wanting to use the framework of the Act to form a basis for the things that they do. A really good example of that recently is the Football Association of Wales launching their sustainability strategy, which we worked with them on, just before the Welsh team went off to the world cup. They don't have to do that, but with the way in which the Act is developed, they are really keen to do that.

The success to date of what has happened in terms of progress from the Act has resulted more from committed leadership, we think, than embedded processes. There are challenges in terms of some of those processes in Welsh Government. We found that there's a sense of pride and enthusiasm amongst the machinery of Government, amongst civil servants, but there's some discrepancy between the level of enthusiasm and commitment for the aspirations of the Act and then a detailed understanding of its application. We found that there's a plethora of learning materials around the Act; some of them are good, some of them could be improved. One of the biggest challenges there is that the Welsh Government do not yet have a clear sense of who needs to have what level of detailed understanding about implementation of the Act. We found that—and this might be obvious in some ways—policy officials had a much better understanding than those operating in the corporate areas of change. Yes, you can sort of understand that, you'd say that it's all about policy, except the corporate areas of change—so, procurement, spending, workforce planning, for example—are all specifically named in the statutory guidance of the Act as being the areas where we expect to see change. But there were lower levels of awareness and understanding in those areas.

We found that, although there are concerted efforts to embed long-term thinking across Government, there does need to be more action in this area, both in terms of the specific tools, training, support and development for the civil service to apply long-term thinking, future-trends scenarios, foresight techniques, but the fact that the civil service are repeatedly and constantly almost having to respond to crises is really inhibiting their ability to do that. There has to also be a recognition and a drive from Ministers to say, 'Actually, before we respond to this, we need to be thinking about the long-term implications. That's one of the reasons why I published this cost-of-living plan: what are you doing in the short term that also has long-term gain?

There are a few other areas. The future generations Act is driving changes in the way that policies are being developed, designed and implemented, but it's not yet consistently being applied in a way that embeds all aspects of the Act. Again, we found some really good practice in terms of collaboration, an increasing amount of good practice in terms of integration and involvement, and some really strong examples of long-term. But long-term thinking is not being consistently applied across every policy intervention and every bit of policy development. The approach to prevention is not yet well enough understood by officials in Welsh Government. Again, there are shifts towards the ethos of that, but on having a technical understanding of what is primary prevention, secondary prevention, tertiary prevention and acute spending, for example, further work is needed.

We found some gaps in accountability mechanisms—so, some challenges with the complexity of where the different levels of accountability and routes to accountability on the Act sit and how they work—and also some things that were listed on paper, if you like, as accountability for the future generations Act, but weren't actually operating in practice. So, there are gaps there. We found that there's this untapped potential for Welsh Government to work across the Welsh public sector and beyond to deliver the well-being of future generations Act—so, the sorts of things that I'm talking about that the FAW have done, how can the Welsh Government show some really renewed leadership in mobilising that?

Overall, we think that there's significant progress that's been made. We want the Welsh Government now to stretch themselves further. We've outlined a number of areas for improvement, and one recommendation, which is that the Welsh Government should work with us to develop a continuing learning and improving plan that covers the areas for improvement that we've identified.

Finally—and sorry that this is a long answer, but it was a very intensive piece of work—just going back to the collaborative approach, I commend the civil service and I pay tribute to the civil service who have worked with us on this. Actually, a number of the recommendations or a number of the findings that were coming out of the review have been addressed as we've been going along. For example, some of those gaps, accountability and governance mechanisms, have either been addressed or are well on their way to being addressed, and that's where I think that that approach and the spirit of collaboration has been really important here. Moving forward, however, it will be really important, I think, for the next commissioner to keep his eye on the ball on this, and, of course, for Senedd committees to be perhaps forensically scrutinising how this action plan is being rolled out. 


Thank you very much for that great answer. Many public bodies have taken to developing in line with the future generations Act, embedding the principles and mission. Is the Welsh Government an example, or are they lagging behind others?

Great question. If we start from the perspective that I hold, which is that I think almost the test for Welsh Government or the bar for Welsh Government is in some ways higher than for most other public bodies, because they produced and promoted the legislation, it's their role to show leadership to the rest of the public sector, in many ways they are showing that leadership, but in many ways there are still some challenges and frustrations between what they're doing at a very strategic level and then those day-to-day interactions with public bodies.

It's not a secret—I've said this perhaps to this committee before—that one of those areas that I've had increasing concerns about has been the health sector. Just prior to COVID, I was actually going to undertake a section 20 review with the exam question being, 'Does the Welsh Government's health department help or hinder the implementation of the future generations Act by health boards?' That was obviously not continued because of the COVID crisis. We hear often that, yes, we've progressed in terms of having a 10-year plan for health. There's been a big shift, actually, from Eluned Morgan more recently, or since she's taken over as health Minister, in terms of a bigger focus in health on prevention, on well-being, on social prescribing, on a shift to getting upfront of these issues. But come back then to the day-to-day interaction between Welsh Government and health service colleagues being, 'What are your waiting times?', 'How are you managing your budgets?' and so on, and that preventative discussion can get lost in that. These are big, big challenging issues, and I'm afraid there's every chance that they'll get worse during this cost-of-living crisis, during funding challenges and so on. It's impossible to tell, isn't it, would things be even worse if you didn't have a future generations Act and a Minister who was committed to it. Yes, I think they would be, but that's not to say that the challenges aren't there writ absolutely large.

Okay. We heard what you said. We can always come back to it. We're going to need to move on now, because we've still got quite a lot of questions in this first section. Jane Dodds.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Croeso mawr ichi, gomisiynydd—mae'n neis eich gweld chi. Dwi am ofyn, os mae hynny'n iawn, ichi edrych yn ôl i pan roeddech chi'n dechrau. Y cwestiwn yw: yn eich barn chi a'ch profiad chi, ydy'r rôl a chyfrifoldebau yn y rôl wedi newid ers ichi ddechrau, dros yr amser?

Thank you very much. Welcome, commissioner—it's nice to see you. I want to ask you, if that's okay, to look back at when you started in your role. The question is: in your opinion and in your experience, has the role and responsibilities of the role changed over time since you started? 

Yes. There are some very technical things, like the addition of new public bodies—so, corporate joint committees, proposals to add other new public bodies to come under the remit of the future generations Act and therefore the remit of the future generations commissioner. But in terms of them changing from how they were originally envisaged, I don't think there is hardly any comparison, really, between how they were originally envisaged and how they've panned out. I don't think that the Welsh Government, in setting the legislation, and particularly resourcing the office, imagined that there would be 350 well-being—. Well, they change regularly, but it's around about 350 well-being objectives that the commissioner had these duties to monitor and assess progress against. I don't think it was perhaps appreciated, the scale of the challenge in terms of working across all policy areas, and the scale of the challenge and resource needed to walk the talk of the Act when you're doing that. So, for example, just the number of stakeholders that are on our core list of stakeholders, if you like, is—. I suppose if you take a specific area, like the older people's commissioner, the list of stakeholders might be a bit more defined; likewise the children's commissioner and so on. Ours cut across every policy area, and involving and collaborating those stakeholders, for example, is hugely valuable, but also hugely resource intensive.

I think that the fact that the Act permeates everything that the public body does is both important but also in terms of how you provide that advice and challenge and support and so on to those public bodies, not just across all of those policy areas, where, for example, the commissioner is expected to have a view on issues to tackle the climate emergency and is equally expected to have a view on what the measures might be to tackle the quite disappointing figures that we saw in terms of Welsh language use declining, for example. You're expected to have a view across that broad range of areas, plus you're expected to be able to navigate technical things like the procurement landscape across Wales, like budget and financial planning, like how public authorities and public bodies are managing their assets. So, I don't know if I would say changed over time, because that was always written into the legislation. I think what has evolved, however, is the understanding of what that actually means in terms of the capacity of the commissioner to really get underneath the skin of those areas where public bodies are really crying out for support and where the public and politicians and others want the commissioner to intervene.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Ac wedyn, mae yna gwestiwn arall gen i ynglŷn ag arian a'r gyllideb. Roedden ni'n clywed gennyt ti bod yna sialens ynglŷn â'r gyllideb i'ch swyddfa chi. Roeddech chi'n cael trafod y pwnc efo'r Llywodraeth. Mae gennym ni ddiddordeb os oedd yna ymateb o'r Llywodraeth ynglŷn â hynny, a hefyd, os ydych chi wedi cael trafodion efo'r comisiynwyr eraill hefyd, i rannu backroom roles, er enghraifft. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much. And then, I have another question in terms of funding and budgets. We heard from you that there is a challenge in terms of the budget for your office. You discussed this subject with the Government. We have an interest in terms of whether the Government has responded to that, and also whether you have had discussions with the other commissioners to share back-office staff functions and so forth. Thank you very much.

Yes, diolch. The budget position continues to be bleak and potentially more bleak than last year. Last year, I was grateful for an uplift of £83,000 in the budget, which we understood to be a permanent uplift, bringing us in line with the older people's commissioner. We're now in discussion; it's not clear whether it was actually a permanent uplift, so there's every chance that we could lose that additional £83,000. I'm not sure—. I can't remember how much detail I went into with you last time around on what's known as the budget alignment exercise, but this is basically an exercise where previously, commissioners were able to carry over funding from year to year. I used that, and it was really significantly important to me, because my statutory duties fluctuate every year. For example, this year we've had to comment and provide intensive advice on 14 public services boards' well-being plans. That's not a duty next year. And then once every five years, there's a future generations report to write, which, again, is an intensive piece of work. So, a flatline budget does not account for those fluctuations in work. It also doesn't account for any statutory section 20 reviews that a commissioner might want to undertake. So, the inability—. That has changed now. So, the commissioner is not able to carry over those resources into, say, a five or a seven-year term period, which has significantly hindered my ability to manage those fluctuations. The Welsh Government also told us when we highlighted that the inability to hold cash in reserves was potentially compromising all of the commissioner's independence, because it meant that we would not have cash in reserve to be able to commission or to be able to undertake statutory reviews—the response from Welsh Government to that is that, if we wanted to undertake a statutory review, we should come and ask the Welsh Government for funding to undertake that statutory review. Now, in my mind, that cannot be allowed to continue, because that is a clear compromise to the commissioner's independence—that we have to go cap in hand to the Welsh Government to ask for resources potentially to undertake a review into Welsh Government. Nevertheless, that is the position as it sits at the moment. 

In terms of resourcing with other commissioners, we've done a huge amount on that. So, we have shared a HR function, we share a payroll function, we jointly commission internal audit services. The work that I do in terms of sharing posts goes beyond just the other commissioners. So, for example, payroll is shared with the ombudsman. We have looked at sharing office accommodation, but because of the leasing arrangements with other commissioners and the timing, that has not been possible. I have downscaled my office over the last year, which has made significant cost savings, but I have a break clause in the lease there, which I've tied in with one of the other commissioners, which would enable the next future generations commissioner to decide and to have an aligned break-clause period should there be opportunities there for sharing.

We also bring in a substantial amount of external income to our work. So, we brought in almost £2 million in additional income to the work of my office through a range of different—charging for services; partnership programmes of work; a joint memorandum of understanding, for example, with Cardiff University, so they fund up to £50,000 of academic research that I may want to undertake. I'm not sure that anyone else is doing that, but again budget alignment rules really inhibit my ability to do that, because I bring in that income, but sometimes it's not known when I set my programme of work that I'm going to be able to find a partner to co-fund that, and then, if I gain that money, it's of no benefit to my office at all because I'm not able to carry it over into the next year. 


Felly, yn eich barn chi, mae gennym ni ddiddordeb yn y dyfodol i edrych ar y budget alignment a'r rheolau ynglŷn â hynny. Ydy hynny'n bwysig? Ie. 

So, in your opinion, we have an interest in the future to look at budget alignment and seeing the roles around that. Is that important?

I think it's hugely important. I think there are some really innovative ways that commissioners could generate income if they were allowed to do that, if they were allowed to carry it over. And actually, there's another problem, which is within the law, which says that we cannot generate a profit for services, we can only charge the cost of services. I could probably set up a subsidiary business tomorrow getting the private sector to have advice provided on the future generations Act, which would benefit them, and if we were able to charge at a profit, we could funnel that into the resources for the public sector, but the legislation specifically prohibits me doing that. 

Diddorol iawn. Diolch yn fawr iawn am eich gwaith. Diolch yn fawr iawn. Diolch.

Very interesting. And thank you very much for your work. Thank you. Thank you, Chair. 

Diolch, Cadeirydd, and good afternoon, commissioner. You mentioned in your answer to the first question, I think, how you provide support to public bodies and how that's changed recently. Perhaps you could talk a little bit more about the changes made and explain the new model.

Yes, thank you. So, we're really pleased with the new model that we've established. This was done in response to public bodies saying, 'We really value the advice of the commissioner and her team when they're able to provide it, but we want more of her time.' Using the final carry-over, if you like—financial carry-over—we were able to establish what is called a 'point-of-contact team', so we have members of staff in my team who have been allocated a certain number of public bodies each, and they have built relationships over time with those public bodies. So, the sorts of things that they are covering are, I suppose, on a strategic level, so being a kind of critical friend, helping those organisations to embed the Act in the way they're developing well-being objectives, for example, and looking at their kind of corporate plans and their integrated impact assessments and helping them to think about the seven corporate areas of change. And then, on a more operational level, sharing that best practice amongst different public bodies; facilitating and signposting—so, a lot of what we do is making connections between different bodies, or beyond public bodies as well, but some who are doing brilliant things that others could learn from; and then practical support on our resources. So, we have a lot of resources out there—toolkits and frameworks for embedding the future generations Act that public bodies told us that they need a kind of hand-holding approach to doing that. So, that has been embedded.

Up until now, I think we've had 412 requests for support through that kind of mechanism, so that's up again on last year. The majority of those are on implementing the Act in specific areas and topics, a lot on decarbonisation and energy and a lot on procurement in particular. But they really kind of vary from helping Sport Wales on their corporate objectives and getting them to do an honest reflection of how well they're progressing on their well-being goals. Likewise with the arts council, helping them to set new well-being objectives; and Natural Resources Wales, helping them to consider how they might set up a citizens' assembly; Velindre Trust, particular advice on specific projects and how they would embed the future generations Act into those projects. I could go on and on, but that's the flavour of the sorts of things that are coming from public bodies, and we've had a really, really positive response to that sort of new level of support that we're able to provide. But I have to say, just following on from the answer that I just gave to Jane, that team is at risk if we're not able to secure this ongoing budget uplift.


Thank you for that, and it's helpful to have those examples as well. Just finally from me: what impact will extending the well-being duty to those eight additional public bodies have on your office?

It's very difficult to say in financial terms. We've done a calculation—we think that there is an estimated cost of between £36,000 and £48,000 per public body per year. That is obviously taking into account the whole—analysing the whole cost of my office and support that we provide.

We are particularly concerned that—. So, there's a real challenge at the moment, because those new public bodies won't come online until around a year's time. At the end of this financial year, if I don't get increased funding, I am going to lose the team who provide advice and support, or that more intensive advice and support, to public bodies. We'll then have new public bodies coming onstream, and if the Welsh Government finance those new public bodies, I will then have to re-recruit people and train them and do all of those things, whereas what we're saying that we need is, once there's a final decision taken on which public bodies are coming under the future generations Act, there should actually be a kind of pre-implementation period, and we learnt this from the first phase, where those organisations will need advice and support before they're officially covered by the Act to get them up to speed on the duty, so we see that kind of intensive period before they're even covered in terms of the input that'll be needed from my office, but it's going to be impossible for us to provide that without additional resources.

Thank you, Chair. I'm going to ask some questions about how, to outline, PSBs, CJCs and other regional bodies interact. So, do you still have concerns over this complex governance landscape?


Sadly, yes, I do still have concerns about that. It remains the case that we think that PSBs are often overlooked by the Government. There is still animosity over funding—for example, quite a bit of funding going into RPBs, the regional partnership boards, not into the public services boards. It's the nature, I suppose, of how public services work that people and prioritisation will follow where the money sits, and the money is sitting with regional partnership boards at the moment.

We outlined a number of areas in my future generations report, and I think these were reiterated, or there were very similar views from the auditor general around this, and we still think that there is this complex landscape and that PSBs are not being utilised or supported to get to reach their full effectiveness.

Thank you. Do you have any suggestions, then, on how that should be done? What would you ask, I suppose, Welsh Government and others to make happen so that public services boards—those issues are addressed?

I think that, indeed, in the section 20 review, we had a look at this as well. We think that there could be clearer guidelines and expectations on the role of the Welsh Government official who sits on each one of the public services boards in terms of them coming back into Welsh Government, being a kind of spokesperson or spokespeople for PSBs, making the connections between what PSBs and their well-being plans are aiming to do and how that interacts with Government, what the barriers might be and so on.

We think that, before any new governance arrangements are established, there should be a real sense check as to how they interact with the public services boards. Could they be done by public services boards? What are the reporting requirements and how do they link together? Sometimes, you have the same people sitting on each of the boards. Other times, you have different people, and then the dots are not necessarily joined up.

I think that there's a need for the Government to recognise that, particularly to get preventative work on primary prevention, the public services boards really do have around the table most of the key services and agencies that can take a primary preventative approach. So, if we look, for example, at regional partnership boards, the interface between health and social care, actually, if you want to reduce hospital admissions, loneliness and isolation and a range of other things that—[Interruption.]—sorry about the dog barking. And a range of other things that RPBs are then trying to deal with, actually, a lot of the interventions are around that PSB table. They're about housing, they're about transport, they're about community safety, they're about all of those things. That's where I don't think there's a clear enough recognition of the role of the PSB and how they should be linked back to delivering those longer term preventative interventions that benefit other services.

Thank you. That's really helpful. Thank you, Chair.

We have 22 local authorities, some of them half the size of the largest ones, and I always saw the public services boards as the vehicle for that long-term, joined-up working. They've been in existence now for six years. What work have you been doing to ensure that they were spearheading this collaborative approach, because it's very difficult to see how some of them are going to survive with the budget that we're going to be discussing tomorrow?

I agree with you, Chair, and we have seen some changes. So, we did a piece of work in 2017, looking at public services boards, and then, obviously, we've just looked at public services board plans and well-being assessments as well. In 2017, we said that they should consider whether the way in which they're chaired and resourced best supports the ethos of the future generations Act, particularly in respect of facilitating collaboration, integration and involvement. Now, in this most recent round, we've seen many PSBs challenging how they're operating and working on a regional scale, so five PSBs in Gwent have merged, Wrexham and Flintshire are working together to produce one plan, Cwm Taf and Bridgend are working together as Cwm Taf Morgannwg, west Wales—Carmarthen, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion—are all working together, and the north Wales regional insight partnership. So, there's better collaboration, certainly at a PSB level. 

We've seen better integration through their well-being plans—so, better attempts to explore the connections between topics and themes in detail—and much greater understanding of the climate and nature emergencies and of the wider determinants of health. I've got lots of examples that I could give you there, but I know we're short of time. We've seen much better work on involvement in terms of the work that PSBs have done to involve citizens in developing their plans, and we're seeing a better use of long-term trends, scenarios and foresight. So, we are definitely seeing improvements in the way that public services boards are operating. As to whether those public services boards then are driving, I suppose, dare we say, mergers between local authorities, I think that there is the foundational work there done in those better working arrangements in PSBs. So, if that were to happen, I suppose a bit like we saw in the COVID pandemic—. If we hadn't have had that partnership working through PSBs in the COVID pandemic, I think we would have been struggling with our public service response, perhaps in the way that they were struggling in England. The bringing together of those partnerships and those relationships having formed already, those relationships of trust and so on, were really critical, I think, in that response. I think we do have those embedded relationships in our public services boards at the moment, and I think, should there be a move towards any of those local authority mergers, then I think those public services boards will put us in a better place than perhaps we were seven, eight or nine years ago.


Okay. So, clearly, progress has been made. Are public services boards resilient enough now to weather the storm ahead in terms of the budgetary cuts that are, obviously, on the horizon? 

Well, in some ways, contradicting what I've just said about the lack of resources for public services boards, the fact that they don't have any resources in and of themselves, and that they are all together trying to work out how we are going to weather this storm of financial crisis on the one hand in terms of their own resources, and the increased demand because of the cost-of-living crisis, they are actually in a reasonable position to be able to do that without the worries of their own entities' resources. So, I don't think that you can expect complete transformation from a public services board in the near future in terms of how they're making progress towards our well-being goals. The territory that a lot of our public services are in at the moment is trying to ensure that things aren't getting worse for people, and that the interventions that are put in place are holistic and, wherever they can be, long term. And I think those are the areas where the use of future trends and foresight, the fact that services and policy development are more integrated and the fact that they are increasingly recognising some of the preventative interventions that are needed, that, I think, places them in as good a position as they could be in in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

So, to finish, really, what are the areas that you're deeply worried about, because you're described as saying that you're deeply worried about some areas, so, which are they?

Sorry, Chair, do you mean in policy terms, or at the mechanics of the—?

Well, I think in terms of the progress on the national indicators, the milestones.

Well, I'm very worried about inequality continuing to widen. I am worried about health in that this shift towards prevention, which is desperately needed to turn off the tap in the long term on demand, is very, very difficult to achieve when demand is increasing and the system is under considerable pressure. Interestingly, I'm less worried about climate and decarbonisation than perhaps I was. That's not to say that I'm not worried, because, globally, nobody is meeting their targets. But, actually, the focus from public services boards—the increased understanding and action that they're taking on the climate and nature emergencies and the connections that they're making—I think that there's reason to be optimistic there, albeit optimism and some good things happening isn't enough in terms of the scale of the challenge that we face. But, if I had to summarise, I would say, it's widening inequalities and a real step back in terms of health prevention. 


Okay. Thank you very much for that. Unless any other Members have got a burning issue they want to pick up on now, I suggest that we take a slightly earlier break, and possibly endeavour to come back five minutes earlier, if that's all right with you, Sophie? 

So, instead of coming back at—. If we can come back at 14:55, and then we can resume on the longer term perspective on your seven-year term. Thank you very much indeed. So, we'll see you at 14:55. Thank you very much. 

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 14:41 ac 14:55. 

The meeting adjourned between 14:41 and 14:55. 

6. Gwaith craffu blynyddol ar waith Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol Cymru
6. Annual scrutiny of the work of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

We continue our scrutiny session with the well-being of future generations commissioner, and this second part is, really, looking backwards at the achievements of Sophie Howe's seven-year term. So, while Sophie fetches something—[Laughter.] Sioned Williams is going to start off the questions. 

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Fe wnaethoch chi sôn y buasai nodi eich meysydd ffocws o ran gosod eich nodau llesiant eich hunain—. Sori, gwnaf i ddechrau hwnna eto. Dwi wedi sgriblo pethau lawr yn anghywir yn fan hyn. Gwnaethoch chi ddisgrifio nodi eich meysydd ffocws fel gosod eich nodau llesiant eich hunain. Felly, dwi eisiau ichi asesu eich cynnydd chi tuag at gyflawni hynny—nodi eich meysydd llesiant eich hunain. 

Thank you, Chair. You mentioned that looking at the focus areas in terms of setting out your own well-being aims—. Sorry, I'll start again. I've scribbled things down wrongly here. You described identifying your focus areas and setting your own well-being goals. So, I want you to assess your own progress towards achieving those—identifying your own well-being areas.

Sophie, you don't need to unmute yourself; the technical staff will do that for you. 

Sorry, Chair. My connection broke up there. I don't know if you can still hear me. I think the question was about well-being objectives, but I didn't catch it, I'm sorry. 

Sori, gwnaf i ei ddweud e eto. Roeddwn i'n aneglur hefyd. Sori, Sophie. Jest eisiau dweud, fe wnaethoch chi ddisgrifio nodi eich meysydd ffocws chi fel gosod eich nodau llesiant eich hunain, felly sut byddech chi'n asesu eich cynnydd tuag at hynny?

Sorry, I'll say it again. I was a bit unclear, Sophie. You described identifying your own focus areas as setting your own well-being objectives. So, how would you assess your progress towards that?

I'm sorry, Chair, I still can't hear that. Could you bear with me while I try to change to another network, which might get a smoother connection? I don't know if you can hear me. Sorry. 

Do we want to have a quick break? Yes, I think we'll take a quick break, Sophie, so that we can resolve this, and then we'll be straight back, for anybody who is listening or watching online.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 14:57 a 15:00.

The meeting adjourned between 14:57 and 15:00.


So, welcome back to our second session with the well-being of future generations commissioner, looking back on her seven years in office. Sioned Williams.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. O ystyried eich bod wedi disgrifio nodi'ch meysydd ffocws fel gosod eich nodau llesiant eich hun, sut fyddech chi'n asesu eich cynnydd tuag at eu cyflawni nhw?

Thank you, Chair. Considering that you have described identifying your focus areas as setting out your own well-being objectives, how would you assess your progress towards achieving them?

Yes, thank you, and apologies for that—now you’re also joined by my elf on the shelf, who is doing some sort of mission impossible in the background.

So, how I would categorise progress. So, we set six objectives, if you like, or six priority areas, at the beginning of my term: transport, planning and housing, and then jobs and skills for the future, adverse childhood experiences and better ways of keeping people well. I think the biggest transformation that we’ve seen is in transport, obviously starting with the decision not to proceed with the M4, but we’ve seen significant transformation beyond that. So, spending reducing from two thirds of what we were spending on our infrastructure being spent on roads to a third; active travel financing has gone from £5 million to £76 million from 2016 to 2021; we’ve got a new transport strategy; we’ve got 20 mph zones coming in; and increased investment in public transport. In terms of what’s happening on the ground, there have never before been more children cycling to school, for example, in Cardiff. Monmouthshire have seen an increase from 28 per cent to 69 per cent of pupils walking to school. There are active travel routes and Safe Routes to School has really been rolled out across Wales. So, I think there’ve been some really significant achievements in that area.

On housing, we’ve focused particularly, as we have with all of our interventions, on the areas that make the biggest contribution to each of the well-being goals. So, we’ve focused on the building of homes, and retrofitting and energy efficiency measures in homes. We have seen, in line with what we recommended to Government, an increase in the optimised retrofit programme, so an increase of £324 million in that. It’s not going to be enough to meet the broader challenges in the owner-occupier sector in particular, and we’ve already highlighted the ongoing challenges in terms of the skills connection to delivering that housing retrofit need.

However, in terms of skills, we have got a purpose-driven curriculum that is aligned with the future generations Act, and we’ve got GCSEs being reviewed with, as I said, 28 exams and only seven of them have the majority of their assessment through examinations. We’ve got a new post-16 commission for tertiary education, which is based around the future generations Act. We’ve got personal learning accounts, which are now aligned with a focus on green and future-fit industries. We’ve got a young person’s guarantee methodology that’s been designed using the Act, and of course we’ve got that upcoming net-zero skills strategy. We’ve seen significant reforms in procurement as a kind of cross-cutting issue to all of these things. So, the recommendations that I made on reform to the procurement system are currently being acted upon by Welsh Government.

In planning, we have a new ‘Planning Policy Wales’ in place, which embeds the well-being of future generations Act. To give an honest reflection of that, I still have concerns about how that is actually being implemented on the ground, and I think perhaps if you were to ask me my lessons learned or the things that I continue to be frustrated about, it would be the fact that there’s been a huge amount of transformational policy, but there’s still this challenge of how we get people on the ground to shift when they are resource strapped, when they’re burdened with a plethora of different things, when they really need to have that focus on changing the culture.

In terms of what we call 'better ways of keeping people well', I've already talked about some of the challenges that I think exist there, and I would have hoped that had we not had COVID and now the cost-of-living crisis, we would be in a better position in terms of health. There have been some gains. I think we're certainly seeing Eluned Morgan talk more about prevention and raising that up the agenda in a way that perhaps hasn't been done before. We are seeing some broader health interventions. You could argue very strongly that the transport strategy, for example, is a health intervention in itself. You could argue that the basic income pilot is a health intervention, but I still think that there are needs to shift the overall healthcare system towards better partnership working, and a focus on prevention.

And then, finally, in terms of ACEs—adverse childhood experiences—we've seen that being set as a priority across Wales by our public services boards. We've seen over 5,000 front-line officers being trained to be aware of ACEs, with 83 per cent now, through a recent survey, showing that they've got a good understanding. Over 600 schools have been trained to spot signs and symptoms of ACEs, and taking an ACE-aware approach. So, I would, overall, categorise, I suppose, the progress that there has been significant progress in both strategy and implementation in some areas, significant progress on strategy and less on implementation in others, and, in other areas—I suppose most notably health—some hugely challenging circumstances that make what we're aspiring to do incredibly difficult. So, still a lot more work to be done in those areas. 


A allaf i ofyn jest un cwestiwn bach dilynol, Cadeirydd? O ran hynny, a deall yr amgylchiadau arbennig, mewn ffordd, o ran iechyd, o ran y meysydd ffocws yna, lle fyddech chi'n dweud mae'r lleiaf o gynnydd? Pa un yw'r un mwyaf siomedig i chi? 

Could I just ask one follow-up question, Chair? In that regard, understanding the special issues around health, in terms of those areas of focus, where would you say the least progress has been made? What's the most disappointing one for you? 

Sorry, specifically on health, do you mean the least—? 

Na, ar wahân i iechyd, achos bod yna amgylchiadau arbennig fanna. Ar wahân i hynny, achos rŷm ni'n derbyn yr amgylchiadau hynny, ym mha faes ffocws mae'r lleiaf o gynnydd wedi bod, yn eich tyb chi? Beth sydd fwyaf siomedig i chi wrth edrych nôl?  

No, apart from health, because there are special conditions there. Apart from that, because we acknowledge those conditions, in which area of focus has there been least progress, in your view? What's the most disappointing for you, looking back? 

I'd probably go back to the planning system. There are a number of areas, because we can't get involved in absolutely everything, and there are lots of things that I would have liked to have been involved in that we just haven't been able to. I think, in terms of the planning system, there are still frustrations there. I think we've got a brilliant planning policy, but my frustration is the extent to which that is really being acted upon on the ground. And I think that goes to show, really, that when you cut so-called back-office functions—and planning is often seen as a back-office function that really was decimated during that period of austerity when front-line services were protected—actually, it's incredibly difficult for a service to respond to transforming the way that it does business with a real dire lack of resources. 

I would have liked to—. If I was doing another seven years—maybe the next commissioner will look at this—it's something that I would go back in to have a look at in terms of the specific implementation. There are probably a number of areas where that needs to be continually looked at. With the review that we've just done into Welsh Government and some, to be fair, strong commitments for them to take action on the areas that we've identified, I genuinely believe that those things only happen if someone, somewhere externally is continually on the case of it, and I think that has sadly been one of my—. I don't know if it's a regret because I don't think I could have done anything differently, but I suppose one of my regrets is in terms of the resources and the capacity of my office to really provide that ongoing support and challenge in those areas. I think it's resulted in some of those areas not making as much progress as we might like. 

Diolch. Diolch, Cadeirydd. 

Thank you. Thank you, Chair. 


Okay, thank you very much. Now, looking back, commissioner, what do you consider to be the biggest achievement and biggest challenge, and also what would you say is your biggest disappointment?

Okay. So, there are a number of policy changes and transformation in policy that I could point to, and I'm not going to re-rehearse those because I've pointed to a number of those already. But I suppose, underpinning all of that is that you have a piece of law that could become something that is done in the back-office of local authorities, in the context of corporate plans, and so on, and doesn't see the light of day anywhere else. But I genuinely believe that we've taken that piece of legislation and made it something that Wales is proud of, that people are voluntarily embracing, and that, in many cases, the eyes of the world are still very much looking to Wales in terms of being world leaders on this. So, I'm proud of the fact that there is this—. And one of the things we found, as I mentioned earlier, from the section 20 review into Welsh Government, is this passion, enthusiasm and commitment for what we're trying to achieve. Now, in any cultural change programme—and I've always said that this is the biggest cultural change programme that Wales will ever see—actually having people at a starting point where they're passionate about something, where they believe in the mission, and so on, is a massive bonus to driving any form of cultural change, and I think that that's what we've done with the well-being of future generations Act.

In terms of challenges, again, I suppose I've referenced a lot of these. We've been trying to unpick systems and ways of working: performance management systems; the way in which we allocate budgets; the way in which audit does its work; the way in which the complexity of our governance arrangements are set up. We've been trying to unpick those systems, many of which work against the aspirations of the future generations Act, and, in many cases, even since the future generations Act, more of those challenges and complexities have been added, and I've talked about those many times in this committee. And a lot of what my team has been doing is trying to get in on those issues before they become a problem, often successfully—so, what appear to be very minor things, like changing the criteria by which the transformation fund is allocating funding; advising on how you actually embed future generations thinking and the whole plethora of well-being goals on the waste strategy; reforms to procurement on how the Government interact and what the expectations are with external bodies on procurement. None of that seems particularly exciting stuff, but it's all stuff that my team are involved in every single day, to try and make sure that what is coming out from Government into public bodies is aligning with the future generations Act and isn't making it more difficult for them to implement the aspirations of it. So, sometimes, that is very challenging and, oftentimes, very frustrating.

I'm sorry, Altaf, I've forgotten the third part of your question, which was—

Biggest disappointment. Oh, gosh, that's a—. I suppose my biggest disappointment, really, is that we just haven't had the capacity to do more. I believe that I have one of the best teams operating in Wales—possibly anywhere in the world. And I know that, when our team go in and support public bodies, and act as a critical friend and challenge, then things do change, but I wish I could replicate them a million times over. I think that if we did that and there was more support for public bodies, then we could have achieved a lot more. That said, I'm incredibly proud of many of the transformational things that have been achieved as a result of this.

That's great. Now, looking to the future, can you predict a time when the future generations commissioner won't be required, and, if so, what would be the conditions?

Oh, what would be the conditions for no future generations commissioner? Well, it's having demonstrable embedding of every one of those principles in the future generations Act. And I would say it would be having achieved Wales's seven long-term well-being goals. The only problem with that is, obviously, things shift, and the goals that are relevant now, perhaps by 2045, when we've got vastly more older people, we've got new technological advances, we've got jobs that people are doing that don't even exist yet—we might all be living in the metaverse, for example—you know, goals will shift and will change.

So, I still think that there will be a need for someone or something to continually keep our institutions having that eye to the future, because there is an insatiable pull, isn't there, back to only reacting and dealing with the here and now, and some of that is for very valid reasons. Nobody is saying we shouldn't be dealing with the cost-of-leaving crisis now; people are literally in crisis, and it is the role of Government and other public services to help them. But creating that space to keep an eye on the long term and how your short-term interventions play out in the long term, that is something that I think will be a continual need. It might be, however, that that is so embedded in our systems that that's just happening and there's not a need for a future generations commissioner, but I think we're on a bit of a long-term mission with that.


Okay. Let's get back down to planet Earth. Sarah Murphy.

Thank you very much, and thank you, commissioner. Again, it's not too dissimilar to the questions you've had already, but it's to ask what you think is the most tangible progress made by public bodies since the Act came into force. And that's not to say that all of the things you've just mentioned, like the culture change, aren't as important, but I suppose it's the things that, after having seven years, in the future now, when you walk past and you walk through communities, things that you'll see and you'll be able to say, 'That came about because of this.'

Yes. I could probably describe some of those journeys that I have. In fact, I came out of the BBC studios last week, I think it was, having a similar conversation of what are the tangible things, to be met by a big-scale programme on sustainable urban drainage and active travel routes, which have come about, actually, because of some passionate champions for the Act and some regulations that have changed to require sustainable urban drainage, and the big increase that we've talked about in terms of active travel.

If I were to go to a hospital site in Swansea, I might be seeing some of the arts in health programme and I might be seeing some of the biophilic communities, which is where Swansea Bay University Health Board has partnered with the National Botanic Garden of Wales to make their sites for nature. If I were to go to a school in Carmarthenshire, I might be going to a zero-carbon school. And, in the future, I might even be going to a zero-carbon school that I've actually, as a young person, or my kids as young people, have had a hand in actually designing. If I am, I don't know, a bee, a bird, in the Gwent levels, then my existence is still guaranteed—at least for the foreseeable future, because I won't have been trampled by a motorway. If I'm going to school in the Vale of Glamorgan, then I might be learning through the Big Bocs Bwyd, and I might be connecting with communities and learning entrepreneurial skills whilst also helping to address food poverty. If I were in Bridgend, I might be benefiting from reduced fumes and carbon emissions from waste, through some of the work that they're doing on transforming vegetable oil into hydrogen vehicles, for example. If I were in Cardiff and I was suffering with long COVID, I might benefit from the partnership with the Welsh National Opera, who are using singing to help to restore vocal cords and air and lung capacity and so on.

I could go on and on, but I think, wherever you reach, it's very difficult to say, 'That is as a direct consequence of the future generations Act.' But what I can say is that partnerships are happening as a result of the future generations Act that simply weren't in existence before, partnerships between unusual suspects: who would have thought, as I said, that Cardiff health board would be partnering with the Welsh National Opera? Who would have thought that the Welsh National Opera would even bother thinking about what their role was in terms of health? So, I think that there's some fantastic things happening out there. Much of that is testament to those champions out there, and shortly I'll be announcing my own change-maker list—100 change-makers across Wales who have been really driving that change. But the Act gives them the framework, the permission and the legal duty to drive that change and to challenge the system.


Thank you very much, commissioner. Thank you, Chair.

Before I bring Altaf Hussain back in, I wonder if I could just ask you whether—. In light of the very significant budgetary challenges the public bodies are going to be facing in the next few years, how confident are you that they've imbibed the well-being goals and ways of working sufficiently to make the right choices on what they're going to stop doing in order to prioritise the things that are most important to their communities?

We are certainly seeing shifts in that regard. Some of the most—. I've talked quite a bit about health and some of the challenges there, but, actually, on the flip side of that, some of the most fruitful conversations that I've had with health institutions have been in this sort of period just after COVID in terms of that being a real wake-up call, and how they're now looking at really transforming their services, focusing on these wider determinants and so on.

As much as there are frustrations about the support and the prioritisation of public services boards, I don't think you can underestimate either the power of bringing those people together to develop those honest and trusting relationships, and that is a sort of starting point for any more sensible approach to a crisis. I think that way of working, that collaborative working, that increasing integration and recognition of where we need to be intervening, where potential solutions could be outside of our immediate remit, that is absolutely invaluable in terms of responding to a crisis.

That's not to say that you're not going to get short-term interventions, and, arguably, where public bodies are positioned now for that is playing out in what we're seeing in the public policy landscape here in Wales. So, on the one hand, we're seeing more quite traditional, 'Here's a £200 energy payment', or, 'Here's a certain amount off your council tax' and so on and so on, to deal with an immediate crisis, and, whilst that might be necessary and does have some preventative benefits, I'm sure, it's not necessarily taking that long-term approach. That, however, combines with some really aspirational things from Welsh Government, like setting up their own energy company, like the basic income for care leavers and so on.

So, I think you're always going to get that short-term response in a crisis; the challenge is getting our public bodies to continue to sense-check across the long term. I think they're certainly in a better position with the future generations Act; there's that framework that everyone in Wales can corral around than if it didn't exist at all.

Thank you, Chair. My last question, commissioner: if you are setting out some advice for the new commissioner, where would you have expected public bodies to make more progress, and what challenges need to be overcome if the new commissioner is to have an impact?

Yes. Where would I have liked them to have made more progress? I would have liked them to have made more progress on decarbonisation and addressing the climate emergency. As I mentioned earlier, I think that that is escalating now, the sense of scale and pace, but I would have liked to have seen that scale and pace happen a number of years ago. So, I think that there are—. I think, the next commissioner, I would advise to not take—. Well, it's a terrible analogy, isn't it, when we're talking about the climate emergency, 'taking your foot off the gas'? But to keep on focusing in that area. I think that, the section 20 review that I've done into Government, if the improvement plan is implemented as promised, then I think that we should see significant changes in the interactions between Welsh Government and other public bodies and that would make it easier for other public bodies to meet their own duties. I've talked a lot about health, about some of the challenges there, and I think I would just go back to those areas in terms of where I'd like them to see more change.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Gaf i fynd yn ôl, os gwelwch chi'n dda, a gofyn cwestiwn ynglŷn â—? Roeddech chi'n sôn am y sifft diwylliannol. Roeddech chi'n dweud sut rydyn ni'n gallu gwneud y sifft diwylliannol yna. Yn eich barn chi, sut ydym ni'n gallu gwneud hynny, yn enwedig os ydych chi'n rhoi rhywbeth i'r comisiynydd newydd? Beth fuaset ti'n ei ddweud? Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much. Could I return and ask a question about—? You talked about the cultural shift. You asked about how can we make that cultural shift. In your opinion, how could we do that, particularly if you are passing something on to the new commissioner? What would you say? Thank you.

I suppose a bit of advice that I would give to the next commissioner is that there are amazing and inspiring people out there who absolutely, 100 per cent, believe in what the future generations Act is trying to achieve and are trying to do it in their day-to-day work. So, my advice would be: find them, work with them, showcase them, go and have it out with any people who are causing barriers to them doing their work, because it's those people who are really using the framework of the Act to drive change.

I think that there's something incredibly powerful about the different types of conversations that people are having now across different organisations. For example, getting people from Natural Resources Wales talking about adverse childhood experiences. I mentioned earlier the Welsh National Opera engaging in health. There are those sorts of conversations, which are really, really important. I think that there's something quite strategic that could happen, and I've often said this—if there was one thing that could transform a culture, it would always be a mass job swap across the public sector so that we have, as we have in some areas, the social workers working in teams with our policing colleagues, recognising that vulnerability is a kind of key challenge for policing as well as it is for social services; having, as they do in Swansea health board, the roll-out of creatives in residence—there are six creatives in residence in the health board who are bringing different perspectives to how the health service is being delivered. I think the role of Natural Resources Wales, for example, on public services boards, has brought a different dimension of discussion in terms of prioritisation around the environment. So, I think that cultural change—you have to find the people who are doing good things and work with them and scale them up, but I also think encouraging more of that swapping of ideas and challenge from a different perspective is really, really important in terms of that cultural shift.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Cyffrous iawn clywed am yr enghreifftiau yna. Diolch yn fawr iawn ichi. Yn ôl i'r Cadeirydd.

Thank you very much. Very exciting to hear these examples. Thank you, and back to the Chair.

Very good. And finally from me, what's the one key piece of advice you would give to your successor?

Oh, wow. Well, I did think about this, actually, and I've got eight, so I'll try—[Laughter.]

I don't mind. You don't have to restrict yourself to one, but—.

So, I've just said about one—find the amazing, inspiring people and work with them. I think the first thing is you've got to get your head around a lot of things pretty quickly to be able to make the connections between them. I think that there is some real analysis for the next commissioner to do in terms of where he wants to position the balance between support, challenge and inspiration. I think it's very easy to go to the technical aspects of the Act, but sometimes a very technical implementation can kill off the inspiration, and I think there's something about continuing to build a level of excitement and the kind of movement around what we're trying to do here in Wales.

I think he's going to have some tough choices on priorities. I would, I suppose, counsel against trying to take on everything, as tempting as it is, and as many issues as there are to get his teeth into. I think he should remember that culture eats strategy for breakfast and that, actually, this is about cultural change, and, as I said, not necessarily about the technical application, as important as that is. 

The final two things that I would say is that I hope he refuses to dumb down the aspirations of the Act and keeps bringing people back to the aspirations that the Act sets out, which is a complete transformation in Wales. He will have lots of people who tell him that all of these various things that are being proposed, in line with that aspiration, are not possible. But this is all about the art of the possible. They'll all tell you that it's impossible to do many of these things until you get it done. They said it was impossible to have a basic income. They said it was impossible to stop building roads. They said it was impossible to reduce the number of exams in our school system. All of those things are happening now, so I think he's got to believe in the art of the possible, build a movement, an alliance of progressive people, many of whom actually sit on this committee, and beyond in the wider world. I think if he does that, then anything is possible. 


Thank you very much indeed. That's a wonderful completion. I suppose my only question is who first said 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast', because everybody around the table in the committee room is saying that's a great expression we've not heard before. 

I think it's from one of those management texts. I suppose it's something that I genuinely believe in. My last seven years has definitely confirmed my view that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and possibly lunch and dinner too. 

Very good. Thank you very much indeed. As you know, you'll be sent a transcript of your two sessions, and, obviously, you're very much encouraged to correct them if we've got anything wrong. Otherwise, I'd just like to thank you for your seven years in office, and the impact you have made on the well-being of Wales, and wish you all the very best for the future. 

Thank you. Diolch yn fawr. Diolch, bawb. 

Thank you. Thank you, everyone. 

7. Papurau i'w nodi
7. Papers to note

Can we move into private session now please? Oh, no, sorry, before we move into private session, can I just ask Members if we can agree to note the papers, the three papers that you've all been sent to go on the public record? Thank you very much. 

Daeth y cyfarfod i ben am 15:32.

The meeting ended at 15:32.