Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb a Chyfiawnder Cymdeithasol

Equality and Social Justice Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Carolyn Thomas
Jane Dodds
Jenny Rathbone Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Joel James
Julie Morgan
Sioned Williams

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Derek Walker Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Heledd Morgan Cyfarwyddwr Gweithredu ac Effaith, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Director for Implementation and Impact, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Jacob Ellis Cyfarwyddwr Cysylltiadau Allanol a Diwylliant, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Director for External Relations and Culture, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Angharad Roche Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Chloe Corbyn Ymchwilydd
Gemma Gifford 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 11:00.

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

The meeting began at 11:00.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da, pawb. Welcome to the Equality and Social Justice Committee. I have no apologies; all Members are present. Are there any declarations of interest? I see none. We are a bilingual institution and instantaneous translation from Welsh to English is available, and also this is being broadcast on Senedd.tv, were you to need to leave the meeting earlier, before it finishes. 

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

I'm very pleased that today we are conducting our annual scrutiny of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Derek Walker, who is now—you're just over a year in post. I wonder if you could just introduce your officials.

Thank you. Bore da. Thank you for inviting us here today. So, first of all, Heledd.

Yes. Diolch. Bore da. I'm Heledd Morgan, I'm director of implementation and impact. 

Bore da. Good morning. Jacob Ellis, the director for external relations and culture.

Thank you very much. I'm going to start off the questions. We now have 44 public bodies that come under the Act, with another eight joining at the end of this month, and, in addition to that, we've now got a split of Cabinet Secretary responsibilities for the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. I just wondered how on earth you're going to prioritise your work with this set of responsibilities.

Yes. Well, thank you for that. First of all, in response to that, I wanted to reference the letter you sent me as part of my appointment process. You made some recommendations and suggestions that I might consider in starting the role and one of those was around prioritisation and putting in place my vision, my strategy, for the role, and you suggested as a committee that it should be done within six months of starting. We managed it in eight or nine months, so we didn't quite do it in six months, but the strategy document was 'Cymru Can', which was setting out the five missions that I'm focusing on for my time in the role. As you were saying, Chair, there is a need to prioritise, because everything is in the scope of the well-being of future generations Act and we did a very significant involvement exercise modelling the five ways of working to put in place the 'Cymru Can' strategy, and that will be the focus for my work. 

I won't go into too much detail, because I put that, I think, in the letter that went to you prior to the evidence session, but the five missions are around implementation and impact, which Heledd is leading; culture and the Welsh language, which Jac is leading; nature and climate change, which our colleague Helen is leading; the well-being economy, which another colleague is leading; and health being the fifth area. So, we're putting our priorities in—. They're in no particular order, but those are the five missions that we're taking forward.

The other suggestion that you made, which was a very helpful one, was to put in place key performance indicators, so that we were able to measure our success and adjust accordingly if we weren't making an impact, but others, like yourselves, could hold us to account for what we're doing and whether we're making an impact. And again, I think, in the letter that went to you prior to this committee meeting, I set out how that framework is going to work, which we've published. It will be a work in progress—I'm not sure we've got everything right in terms of that framework—but it's a four-tier framework, starting with the national indicators, which is what we're all here to achieve, and working down to outcomes and activities that measure our success in terms of perhaps more closely related to the direct impact that we can have in this role.

And then other points that you raised in the letter were around transparency. So, I'm being transparent, I think, about the meetings we were having with Welsh Government and public bodies and the balance of those meetings. So, we will publish, as you suggested, information about the number of meetings we've been having with Welsh Government in our annual report each year so that people can see the extent of those meetings and who we've been meeting with and the subject of those meetings.

And finally, you were encouraging me to undertake good engagement with the committee and the membership of the committee. So, thank you very much for the opportunity to meet informally with the committee last year—I think it was during the summer time—but I've also been able to meet individually with committee—you as Chair, Jenny, and with others—during the course of the year. From our perspective, that's working well, but obviously I'm interested in hearing your perspective as well.

So, I guess the main challenges in terms of my experience of this role in the first 12 months or so—. Perhaps if I start by thinking about the challenges for the public bodies, the public bodies, my sense is, are very much on board with this agenda. The good amount of work done by my predecessor and colleagues to raise awareness—. Why we are doing this, why we've got this important legislation, is very much understood and supported by public body leaders. I met with all of them when I came into the role, and I've met with many of them since. But the challenge is around implementation—how do you deliver on this agenda. And so that is why, in my 'Cymru Can' document, we're putting more focus on the 'how', being alongside public bodies to implement and understand how they deliver on sustainable development within their organisations.

I think the second thing I would say would be around the budget challenges that they all face. Of course, these are challenges across the public sector, and many of them will say to me that this makes it harder for them perhaps to focus on the long term, when they have got extremely challenging short-term issues to deal with. We're addressing that too through working alongside them on the 'how', but, in particular, we are doing a programme of work with finance directors on the budget setting and decision making around budgets, and doing that in line with the well-being of future generations Act.

We responded to the Welsh Government budget earlier in the year—and, hopefully, you've had sight of our response—and we will continue to work with them. Because I was slightly disappointed with how—. It was difficult to see, in some cases, how the well-being of future generations Act had been applied to their decision making. It didn't mean it hadn't been done, but the evidence for doing so was difficult for me to see, and I don't want to be in that position next year of not being able to have a clear view on how the well-being Act is being applied. So, we're working closely with the Welsh Government budget team, but not just with the Welsh Government's budget team, with public bodies and finance directors themselves, and that's a new audience for us. We've worked with officers and we've worked with chief executives, but, in terms of the people overseeing budgets, we've done less work with them, so that is going to be a focus for us over the next year and beyond. 

And then in terms of—. The challenge for me is around prioritisation, and we have our own budget pressures—so, the prioritisation I've talked about through 'Cymru Can'. But my office, along with the other commissioners, had a 5 per cent cut, which we weren't expecting, and we've had to adjust accordingly to make sure that we can deliver on our strategy within that budget scenario, and I'm very happy to talk about how we did that, and the impact on that, perhaps later on.


Can you be a bit more specific on how you're going to address things differently, given that you have had a budget cut, along with all the other public bodies that you are scrutinising?

Yes, absolutely. It's meant a significant change in how we do our work. So, we're going the change the organisational structure. I was going to change the organisational structure based on the strategy, because you have to align resources to the strategy, but, then, through that process, we were sighted on a cut for our office. The main change that we've made is we are having to provide more of a one-to-many service to the public bodies, rather than a 1:1 service. Each of our staff members—. Staff members across the—. Each public body will have a direct link to a staff member, but, previously, they were able to attend, perhaps, more meetings with public bodies, hear what was going on and do more bespoke work. We'll be able to do less bespoke work and we'll have to do more one-to-many training programmes and advice sessions, or, when we do those bespoke sessions, we need to make sure that they have wider relevance, so that we hear the learning of working with that particular public body and share it more widely. So, it's not that we won't any of that stuff. One of our colleagues this morning, Pep, is working with Powys County Council on putting in place using our ways of working journey checker, which is a self-evaluation tool for public bodies to guide them in terms of how they’re delivering against the Act. But that’s a new tool, and so our learning of how they’re using it can be shared more widely with the other public bodies. But the main implication, how we’ve managed this primarily, is that adjustment around the one-to-many. I think we’ll be able to achieve just as much impact, if not more, but we’ve had to make those changes as a result of the budget situation.


Reducing budgets is always difficult, but it's also a time when you can actually implement the change that's necessary. So, what appetite do public bodies have for doing things differently, given that they have fewer resources?

I think the work that we're doing is very much picking up on that sense. So, we worked with Vale of Glamorgan Council, for example, recently, and it was very much around the opportunity or the need to think about this in terms of transformation, about how services are delivered, rather than perhaps salami-slicing. I think the framework of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is the framework that enables public bodies, facilitates public bodies, to think in that way, because it’s all about the connections between different agendas, not thinking in silos, looking at root causes, looking at prevention and so forth. So, we’re encouraging public bodies to use the well-being Act as the way in which they frame their decisions and take decisions when they’re facing difficult budget situations, and we are working alongside them to make that happen and implement that.

Yes, thank you, Chair. You said that now you're talking to finance officers, which is welcome, as well as chief execs. How do you also get political buy-in as well? I know that you say they are concerned about budgets now, and I know, talking to leaders, they are concerned. Setting the budget this year, and even next year, is going to be an issue, so they are thinking short term, dealing with homelessness and emergency situations all the time, so it is quite difficult to think long term for the future generations. Looking at closure of leisure centres, swimming baths, organisations are saying, Well, what about applying the future generations and well-being Act?' and, you know, libraries, they can cite an Act going back to the 1950s, but it's—. What I'm hearing from politicians is it's very difficult to think long term. So, how do you get that buy-in as well from the politicians?

I think it's a really important point. There are two parts to my answer. I have spent a good amount of time engaging with politicians and speaking with local councillors and leaders of councils and other politicians to make the case, making the case for why we need to be doing this and emphasising that this is not something we can delay. When you think about climate change, when you think of the state of our nature, when you look at health trends, these aren’t things that can be delayed, because they’re urgent and they’re getting worse, and the longer we leave them the more expensive they will be. So, making that case is part of what I do when I’m speaking with politicians; also, as part of making that case, explaining how it’s going to help them deal with the problems that they’re facing—politicians are trying to deal with the very real issues that their constituencies are facing—so, showing the relevance to the issues that they’re facing today.

One of the important aspects of the well-being of future generations Act, and not an approach always understood, I think, in other parts of the world, is it’s about acting today and tomorrow. It’s not about one or the other. It’s trying to do both at the same time. And if you don’t think in those terms then you’re certainly not going to achieve them, but you can if you have that perspective.

And then the second part of the answer, as well as making the case, it goes back to this practical support in terms of the ‘how’. So, that is using techniques to think about long-term trends when you are setting strategy, understanding the data and how you apply that information when you’re putting strategy and programmes in place. It’s finding those win-wins that we identify in other public bodies that they might be able to apply in their own public body. It’s finding the practical ways in which, in these really challenging financial circumstances, they can do the implementation, and that's the kind of work that Heledd and the team are leading.


Can I just ask how you monitor that, though, that they are having due regard, because it is a legal Act? When councillors have reports presented to them, usually at the end of the report, there are lines about the equality impact and the impact on finance. Is there a line now that says what impact there will be in terms of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015? How do you know that it is actually being discussed now by councillors and by other public bodies? Do the Welsh Government have that line as well, in any decisions they take, that they are giving due regard to this legal Act?

Yes. I was going to bring Heledd in, because Heledd leads on this area, and then I'll come back. Is that okay?

Yes. No problem at all. I was going to come in, partly—I think it answers both of Carolyn's questions, really—to say that I'm encouraged that we've had quite a lot of requests recently to provide training sessions, to provide workshops for elected members. So, recently, my team and I have been in Rhondda Cynon Taf, in Wrexham and Flintshire, and those sessions are helping elected members to use the well-being of future generations Act to scrutinise decisions that are happening locally. We've got a future generations framework for scrutiny that I developed some years ago with boards and with elected members themselves, who co-designed that, and it gives people questions to ask how the ways of working and the goals are being applied in real life. And, obviously, as Derek has said, that's even more important now that we're facing such significant budgetary pressures.

In terms of how we monitor that that's happening, I'm not going to lie to you as a committee, it is really difficult for us, as such a small team, with a reduced budget to do that. Just last year, we had 807 requests for advice and support. Those are the ones that we caught and recorded; I'm sure there are far more, actually. That's up 30 per cent on the year before. So, it's encouraging, on the one hand, that the appetite is growing for our help and advice, but it's difficult on the other.

You talked about integrated impact assessments. Derek wrote to the public bodies after his Finance Committee appearance in January, asking how they were applying the Act to their budgetary processes, and we've had really interesting responses from quite a number of public bodies now, and they keep coming in, which is informing our work with finance officers this year. A number of them use integrated impact assessments. Some of them are better than others, I'm not going to lie, at how they are looking at applying the well-being of future generations Act, but that's part of the work that I want to lead this year and over the following years, with finance officers and others.

We've been approached by one local authority to set up a community of practice, and there's real appetite out there, with WLGA and Audit Wales and other partners in this space, to do that—and Academi Wales, I should say—in order to bring together the learning that these officers are looking at and to make those integrated impact assessments as good as they can be, so that they are considering all of the duties under the Act and that elected members can also look at that, scrutinise, hold them to account. Jac, I know we're talking a lot, but I don't know if you want to say anything about the Welsh Government side of things, and our plans in that area around the integrated impact assessments.

If I may, Chair, I think there's a recognition in Government that they can improve the way that integrated impact assessments are produced and the evidence that is supported, at what time in the process do IIAs get developed. So, we are working work with Government to improve that—it's one of the findings from the section 20 review that we conducted last year. So, it's giving us the opportunity to improve those areas that Carolyn references, in the hope that they can be strengthened, moving forward. So, I'm assured that those areas are being picked up by Government, and we can offer some advice in supporting as well.

I want us to move on, if that's all right. Jane Dodds, if you'd like to come in on the areas of focus that you want to tease out.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Yn gyntaf, gaf i ofyn am y trawsnewid o'r comisiynydd cynt i beth rydych chi'n canolbwyntio arno fo? Roedd y comisiynydd cynt yn canolbwyntio ar bethau fel incwm sylfaenol ac inswleiddio tai. Beth sydd am ddigwydd yn y meysydd gwaith yna? Ydyn nhw am gario ymlaen?

Thank you very much. First of all, may I ask about the transition from the previous commissioner to what you're focusing on? The previous commissioner focused on areas such as basic income and insulating housing. What's going to happen to those fields of endeavour? Are they going to continue?


We can't continue the whole work programme that the previous commissioner was delivering on. This is a new work programme based on looking at the long-term trends, the analysis that we've done of well-being plans and objectives, and the involvement work that we did, speaking to public bodies and stakeholders. So, things have moved on in terms of where our focus is going to be, but that doesn't mean we won't do work in the areas where the previous commissioner worked, because we'll be able to continue to push things in those spaces, reference work that was being done. We won't drop pieces of work that we're already engaged in. So, for example, one of the areas that Sophie worked on was the area of housing, in terms of net zero in housing and retrofit and so forth. Housing, although it's not one of the five missions that I referenced, is referenced in 'Cymru Can' and it cuts across, I think, all of the missions. When you think about housing, it's important to our economy; it's important to where we have housing and the flourishing of our Welsh language communities; it's important, of course, to climate change and how we use our energies and so forth.

So, those things aren't dropped completely, but the new focus is based on the strategy. Inevitably, we've moved from where we were to what the strategy document says. Within the document, there are two areas that we haven't talked about. They are areas of focus. One is on artificial intelligence and one is on food. They are not sneaky ways of trying to get in two extra missions, I promise, but they're recognising that there are cross-cutting issues that apply across those missions, which are wicked and systematic, that we want to give attention to. We've started work, and you'll know, Jane, in terms of food, and focusing on the food system—. I know I'm speaking to the choir in terms of this issue in some senses, in that we cannot achieve our well-being goals if we don't sort out the food system, in terms of health, in terms of impact on our environment, in terms of culture and the Welsh language. That is why food has become one of the two areas of focus that I've started working on, and where we've done more work. The work in AI, which I can talk a little bit about, is less far progressed.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Dwi eisiau trio cael darlun, os yw hynny'n iawn, o beth sy'n digwydd pan mae comisiynydd yn gorffen ac un yn dechrau, achos mae yna sefyllfa, onid oes, lle mae amser ac arian yn cael eu gwario ar rywbeth, ac wedyn mae hynny'n gorffen, a does neb yn cario ymlaen. Beth ydy eich ymateb i hynny? Mae gwaith da wedi cael ei ddechrau a ddim wedi cario ymlaen, fel dwi'n deall, o beth rŷch chi'n ei ddweud.

Thank you very much. I want to try to get an overall picture, if that's okay, of what happens when a previous commissioner ends their time in post and a new commissioner begins, because there is a situation, isn't there, where time and money are spent on a particular field of endeavour and then that ends, and then nobody continues that work. How would you respond to that? Excellent work has been done, and work has been started, but hasn't been progressed, as I understand it, from what you say.

One of things I would say at this point is that I'm in quite a different position than the previous commissioner in terms of funding. The financial circumstances around this office have changed significantly in the last few years. One of the changes has been the inability to carry forward money underspends from year to year, which meant the previous commissioner, in certain years, would have more money. From a team of 28, I lost five people at the end of March, so I'm much more constrained in terms of financial resources and staff resources than the previous commissioner had been. In terms of the work that the previous commissioner was undertaking, I'm not sure what more to add other than that those are not being dropped completely but they're not becoming our focus. So, for example, the commissioner produced the future generations report back in 2000—

Yes, it wasn't that long ago. It was a really important piece of work with some important recommendations in the areas that she was prioritising, and we continue to bring those recommendations to the attention of public bodies and others, to seek their implementation and seek their adoption. In terms of the research that was undertaken—I mentioned the research in terms of housing that was undertaken by my colleagues and Sophie in her time—we continue to promote that research and talk about that research and seek the implementation of the recommendations from that research. So, it's not that it's dropped; it is adopted and brought into my work programme. But it is a slightly different approach in that we didn't have a mission-based approach previously, under the previous commissioner, and there were different priorities and they were taken forward in a different way. We didn't have measures of success in the past in the same way that we have now. So, it's a different approach.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Gwnaf i jest ofyn un cwestiwn arall, os ydy hynny'n iawn. Rydych chi wedi sôn am y meysydd ychwanegol, hynny yw bwyd a'r maes digital. Beth oedd y rhesymau dros ddewis rheina, yn enwedig oherwydd eu bod nhw'n ychwanegu, onid ydyn, at y pum gweledigaeth rydych chi wedi eu dewis?

Thank you very much. I'll just ask one further question, if I may. You've mentioned the additional areas of work, namely food and digital. What were the reasons behind the selection of those fields of endeavour, because they're in addition to the five missions that you've selected?

I've perhaps covered this a little bit, but I'll go into a bit more depth. The reason we chose those issues is slightly different for each of the issues, but partly it was because they came out very strongly in the 'Our future focus' exercise, which was the involvement and consultation exercise that we'd undertaken. And the reasons that they came out very strongly were slightly different for each one. In terms of food, I've talked about that a bit in a previous answer, but recognising that the food system is connected and we will not achieve our well-being goals if we don't address the problems in our food system, and a sense from the people who we spoke to that, actually, things are being dealt with in silos, and while we might be doing the right thing by the economy over here, that's having a negative effect on the environment over here and might be having a negative consequence for our health. So, we need to look at these things in a connected way. 

In terms of AI, the reason why that has become one of our areas of focus is partly for the same reason, that it's connected across in all different policy areas, all different public bodies, but also a sense that, in order to realise our goals, AI has an important role in helping us to improve the lives of the people of Wales for the long term, but also recognising that we need to mitigate for the challenges of it in order to go forward. And there was a sense, I think, from our engagement work that some public bodies were doing a good job in this space already and others weren't giving it the attention it needed to be given. So, there is a sense that there's a Wales-wide public sector perspective on this and there's value in our convening power and our ability to have an overview of what's going on across the public sector to have a Wales approach to AI. But in terms of AI, we are certainly scoping that work in a bit more detail. We haven't yet done a huge amount in that space. And organisations like the Centre for Digital Public Services are already in that space and we don't want to duplicate what they're doing. We're about adding value. So, that's how we got to those, and I can talk a little bit more about what we're planning to do, but that's the rationale for choosing those areas. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn, Cadeirydd. Yn ôl i chi. 

Thank you very much, Chair. Back to you.

Thank you, Chair. I think a lot of the questions were covered earlier regarding support for public bodies and concern regarding you having enough resources as well. Have you thought about maybe public bodies having a champion themselves who could maybe understand the Act better and what it covers? I remember being a new councillor, and there are new councillors all the time, every election. So, just to understand it better and what it actually means. Is that something that you might consider?

Yes, I have thought about that, and I think that that would be something we should consider taking forward. That happens at an officer level but not at a politician level, and I think that probably is a gap. Wouldn't it be great to see cabinet members with responsibility for the well-being of future generations Act? They're few and far between; I'm not sure if they even exist. So, I think that would be a good way, because one of the ways that we can use our limited resources more effectively, of course, is by a sort of 'train the trainer'—. It's not 'train the trainer', but if we support people to be experts within their public bodies, then they don't have to come to us directly; they go internally. So, we do do that at the officer level. The sustainable—SDCC—you explain what that means.


Sustainable Development Coordinators Cymru Plus network. It's rather a mouthful.

Yes. It is one of the officer networks we work with to support them to become the real advocates and experts within their own public bodies, so that people within those public bodies can go to them directly. But to do that at the political level I think is a good idea and something I’ll take away, Carolyn, because we haven’t taken that forward and it’s a good suggestion.

I think what success looks like in some senses, in terms of our advice and support, is that we’re weaning public bodies off the need to come to us, because if we are going to make the change that we need to make in Wales to deliver on the well-being goals—and we’ve made good progress, but there’s a way to go, I think we would all agree—this requires expertise within all the public bodies and capacity within the public bodies around this agenda. If we expect them all to come via my office and the brilliant team that I have, then we’re not going to go as far as we want to as quickly as we want to. So, that support to create these centres of expertise within the public bodies is key, and I think that’s a really welcome suggestion. Thank you.

And my feedback is that it’s complicated. It took a while just to even learn the name 'future generations well-being Act' and the aims and goals, so I think, if we had that, that would be helpful. You’ve got, looking at this, I think it's 44 public bodies, and eight more as well who will be part of the Act, who need to consider the Act, so that is a lot. But are there any more that you think also need to be included in there?

Yes, it’s a huge number, isn’t it, of public bodies. Our figure is 56, so there’s maybe a disconnect with the information that we’ve got. But that’s a lot of public bodies that come under the Act. My feedback—. There are Welsh Government criteria around why a public body might come under the Act, and I don’t have any issue with those criteria. The issue I have had is why are we waiting for the public bodies to all come under—. You know, eight in one go. Transport for Wales has been set up for a number of years. We’ve been working them to embed the Act, and to some extent they’ve done a good job, but this should be happening when these public bodies are being set up, not waiting to do them in one batch, because, if you can embed the approach that we advocate for in the well-being of future generations Act from day one, it’s much more easy to do it that way than it is to retrofit organisations and ask for a different approach and a different culture once they’ve already set up. So, we have understood that and our team have been working with the new eight public bodies, but that should be done straight away.

The other point I’d make—just because I’ve got an opportunity to do that—is I pushed really hard for these eight to come under, and for that not to be delayed. There was a prospect that this could have been delayed because of the difficult financial situation that we’re facing within public bodies, but this is not an agenda that can wait. What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for the financial situation to suddenly get much better? Well, we could be waiting a number of years for that happen, and this agenda is urgent, and we need to be bold. So, this should be happening as soon these new bodies are being set up.

Okay. So, I've got Julie Morgan and then Sioned Williams. If you can all have shorter questions and shorter answers, then we'll cover the facts.

Yes. Bore da. I just wanted to come in on the political point that Carolyn made, and I'm sure that you're aware, Derek, that, in order to create an age-friendly Wales, there is a champion in each cabinet throughout Wales, and, obviously, it depends on the impetus of the person taking that post, but, in some areas, that's been very successful, and it has created a network that the commissioner works with, moving towards an age-friendly Wales. So, I don't know if you were aware of that as a sort of example.

I was aware of it—I've not very detailed knowledge of it, but I was aware of it. We will go away and look at that model to see what the learning is from that model and how we might apply it to this work too. So, thank you. Diolch.


In a context, if I may, where the Act is applicable to all cabinet members, be that local authority or at Government level, to avoid a scenario where one person around the table is responsible, I think there are a range of models out there that we can look at.

Jest eisiau dod nôl yn gyflym ar y cyrff ychwanegol yma, ac rwy'n gwerthfawrogi beth ŷch chi'n ei ddweud o ran yr angen a gwerthfawrogi eich bod chi wedi eisiau cael y cyfrifoldeb ar gyfer y cyrff cyhoeddus hynny. Dwi jest eisiau cael hyn yn hollol glir, achos mae yna gyhoeddiadau pellach wedi bod ynglŷn â chyllid i gefnogi hynny. Ydy eich swyddfa chi nawr yn fodlon eich bod chi yn medru cefnogi'r cyrff ychwanegol yma yn llawn yn sgil y setliad ariannol rŷch chi wedi ei gael ac, wrth gwrs, yr heriau ariannol rŷch chi wedi sôn amdanyn nhw'n barod?

I just wanted to come back quickly to these additional bodies, and I appreciate what you're saying in terms of the need and that you were saying that you wanted responsibility for these public bodies. I just wanted to be absolutely clear, because there are further announcements that have been made in terms of funding to support that. Is your office now happy that you can support these additional bodies fully as a result the settlement that you've received and the budgetary challenges that you've already mentioned?

We haven't received any additional funding to support the additional public bodies. When we were having these discussions with Welsh Government, we were estimating, if we were to carry on the previous model of delivery, it would have been about—. This is not a perfect way of doing it, but, roughly, £15,000 per public body would have been the cost to us; additional costs for the Auditor General for Wales. We have, as I've mentioned, put in a new delivery model to do the best we can to support these public bodies with the resources that we've got. I think there is a strong case for additional resources, because of the breadth of this agenda, but I do recognise public bodies across Wales are in a very difficult situation, and the money might not be available. So, I guess the jury is out. We've put this new model in place, it's begun from the beginning of April. The new public bodies come online at the end of June, and so we will keep an eye on this to make sure that we are able to give them the service that they expect and they deserve. We're optimistic that we can, but we will monitor this very closely to make sure that that is happening.

Achos jest ein bod ni wedi cael llythyr gan y Gweinidog cyfiawnder cymdeithasol yn dweud ei bod hi'n adrodd eich bod chi'n dweud eich bod chi'n fodlon bod modd cwrdd â'r gofyn newydd yma mas o gyllidebau presennol. Felly, ydy hynny'n adlewyrchu eich bod chi'n fodlon, achos mae fe'n swnio i fi fel eich bod chi'n teimlo gallech chi wneud â mwy o adnodd i gefnogi hyn?

Because it's just that we have received a letter from the Minister for social justice saying that she reports that you say that you're content that it's possible to meet the demands within the budget that you currently have. So, do you think that's a correct statement, because it seems to me that you feel you could do with more resource to support this?

I've seen the letter, yes. The first place I came from was that we need additional resources, so I don't know if 'content' would be the word I would have used. But we're cutting our cloth accordingly. I do think there's a strong case—my predecessor said the same—for additional resources. The breadth of the agenda and the importance of this agenda are significant, as it is substantial, and the demands on our office are pretty big. We're making it work, but we will be monitoring this very closely.

Okay. I've never come across a public body who says, 'We need less money.' [Laughter.] There's no mention in your paper about sharing resources with other commissioners, or co-location of your offices or sharing of back-office functions, like payroll or anything like that. It's difficult for you to be challenging other organisations if you're not also implementing different ways of working yourselves. So, is there anything you want to tell us about that?

Yes, absolutely. We look at this very, very carefully. This often gets raised with me, and I know, when I did my pre-appointment hearing, it came up, and I promised to look at it. There are two parts to this answer as well, and I'll try and be brief, but we do look at this. Where we can, we do share resources—so, for example, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales does our payroll, so that is one way in which we share resources. We don't share offices, because we're in a co-working space and all of our team work at home most of the time. They are tiny, the costs of our offices, and we've moved from bigger—. Sophie moved the offices to much smaller offices; I've reduced them again.

But the approach we've taken is to, you know—. You could share a finance officer, or you could ask your finance officer to do more. So, what we've done is the second. So, our finance officer, our lead for finance, is now doing the IT work, so we don't have an IT person. Our HR person is having a much wider role as well, and reducing their hours. So, we've done that approach, rather than share—. You know, you can save money either way, and we've really gone down as much as we possibly can. But we will continue to keep it under review to make sure that we use our resources wisely. But we do work together with them where we can and we've taken an approach of reducing costs internally, rather than the shared office functions.

But having said that, Chair, I would say that this should be something that also Welsh Government keeps an eye on when new public bodies are being set up. So, the new nature positive body, the environmental governance institution that's being set up as a result of Brexit—we need a body to look at the law and compliance with the law around the environment—one of the points that we made in our response to that was that, when these bodies are being set up, is there a possibility to look at how hosting can work, or back office functions could be shared at that point? It is easier to do it when bodies are being set up and it may be, with that body, that we would make a good host or another organisation would make a good host. That's a good time to look at it. It doesn't mean that you don't look at it at other times, but that is a good time to look at it too.


Chair, you may also—. We didn't mention, potentially, in the written evidence that we supplied—. Because the Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee themselves looked at the review of commissioners, looking to seek to address that particular question, we can re-share the evidence that we provided to that committee on that question too.

Diolch. I'm going to ask about the support for Welsh Government, and I think you already referred to, at the beginning, that you are going to be publishing all the meetings with Welsh Government. So, has it gone up or gone down in your time as commissioner?

I'm just looking at the figures now. We've got a very good record of how much support we provided to Welsh Government and to public bodies. I can't answer specifically whether it's gone up or down in terms of Welsh Government, but what we have done with the new strategy—and this is partly through the feedback from this committee—is put more focus on the wider public sector. So, we might still be doing as much with the Welsh Government, but we're certainly doing more with the other 55 public bodies, or what the number is. Because, whilst recognising the leadership role of Welsh Government and the way that, if they're doing the right thing, other public bodies will follow, one of the things that came through the consultation on the development of our new strategy was the need to give more attention to the wider public sector, and that's what we've been doing. So, that will have gone up. I can provide you with a written response to whether, year on year—unless we've got it in our notes—it's gone down with Welsh Government or gone up, but we will have a record of that.

—we're interested in knowing how much time you spend directly with Welsh Government.

And could you tell us some examples of the types of issues that the Welsh Government raises with you?

I guess it's a two-way street. Sometimes, it's me raising things with them, rather than them coming to us, and I raise things primarily in line with the strategy. So, Jac, perhaps, can talk a little bit more, but we've done a lot of work around the new culture strategy for Welsh Government, for example. One of the reasons that culture and the Welsh language is given a focus, is a mission, in my strategy, is because culture and the Welsh language, the goal around a thriving Welsh language and culture, is not given the priority that it deserves by the public bodies. So, we've given that attention and we've really tried to work with Welsh Government before they publish their strategy to make sure that they're developing it in line with the well-being Act, rather than responding to a draft and then having to retrofit it. So, that would be one example.

So, did they ask you to do that, or did you ask—you know, come into it, sort of thing?

It's a good question. I don't know. Jac, do you want to—?

I think it's, dare I say, a combination of both. Both parties can see the opportunity that the culture strategy offers. It's been a long time in the making; I think that the Government have attempted a new culture strategy for several years, with the pandemic impacting on the implementation of that strategy. In the role of advising the public body in the areas around the strategy, I think it was important for us to be involved in understanding that many of the local authorities are waiting for this strategy to be implemented before setting their own local strategies. We know how important setting a national vision is for culture, particularly in the period that the culture sector is facing in terms of budgetary challenges at the moment. I think we identified this as something quite urgent and a priority for us to provide advice on in light of the challenges facing the sector. So, we've delivered a workshop, we've sat down with officials, we've provided written feedback on drafts, and we will continue to do that until it's fully implemented because of the value we think it can place on setting the vision and the direction for other public bodies too.


I would argue that we have. Certainly, in the first iterations of the draft, the emphasis of the Act was weak, possibly, and we wanted to strengthen that. We can now see that in the document that's out for consultation at the moment. We might encourage the Government to look a bit deeper at the role of involvement and working with communities, and the emphasis on future trends is absent at the moment in the strategy. But, I would hope that the Government have also valued the input and the advice that we've given over the last couple of months as well.

Just to give you some other examples, we proactively engaged with the Welsh Government around the economic mission—I think that was back in November. We've done work around the budget, which we've been talking about previously. I think we'd had an existing relationship when I came into the role, but, following the Welsh Government budget this year, we've asked to be more directly included in the review of the strategic integrated impact assessment and the work around prevention, and how you account for prevention budgets within Welsh Government budgets and other budgets. We've been pushing hard to talk to them about food—the food strategy and so forth. There are many other areas where we proactively engage with the Welsh Government on issues where we think it's important to the delivery of the Act. 

Have the Welsh Government ever asked you for help and support, and you've said, 'No', you can't do it?

I can jump quickly in there with some of the statistics that I do have to hand in relation to that particular question. We had around 113 recorded requests from the Welsh Government in the last year, and we had to decline 28 of those, being quite specific, and we can add more detail after the committee appearance today on the nature of some of those requests. But, it points back to the reality of the situation—the capacity—and, also, it might not always be appropriate. We've also pushed back to the Government, in light of the section 20 review and other opportunities, that, actually, the expertise is in the Government; they already have a sustainable futures division in the Government with the resources, the insight and the expertise to be able to deliver on those. So, there do have to be some of those challenging conversations as well.

I think it's the challenge back—'challenging' is probably the wrong word, but I think we're always trying to find the most effective way of giving advice. Sometimes that will come from us as an office or we point and signpost to other organisations in the Government or outside as well.

Right, thank you. To go on to the public services boards now, how well do you think they're working?

It's a mixed picture, I would say. I have attended meetings of the PSBs, we brought PSBs together for an event in Wrexham this year with the Minister responsible, I met with the chairs of the PSBs, we do a lot of analysis around their objectives and their delivery, and we provide support and training through the work that Heledd leads to the PSBs. What my learning is is that it's a mixed picture, as I say. So, some are working well and collaborating on those issues that can only be done collectively—you know, the big, strategic issues that need public bodies to work together on—and for others, by their own admission, from some of the members, there will be opportunities for individual organisations to come together and they will share what they're doing, and then they might do little more than just information sharing around each of them, which has a value it itself but it's not the purpose of the PSBs. I think that if these didn't exist, you'd want to create them. They are an important structure and we need to try and find ways to make them work.

One of the pushbacks that you will have heard as well is that they haven't got money to deliver on their agenda. So, they don't have resources in the way that the RPBs might have resources, and there is the issue of complexity sometimes in terms of the regional collaborative structures, or the collaborative structures that we have across Wales being complex, and them finding their role. But I'm firmly of the view—and I was of the view when I started this job—that the PSBs are an important part of our collaboration arrangements and we need to work harder collectively to make them work, and we're certainly putting more resources into our work with the PSBs. There's an important role for the Welsh Government, though, in terms of the PSBs and making them work, and we're encouraging them to do the same. We do enjoy a good relationship with the Welsh Government in terms of supporting PSBs, but I think we need to do more work to make more of them work more effectively. But there are great examples of some good practice too.


So, what specifically do you think can be done to support them, to improve the way they operate?

I would say it would be in a number of areas. I think, in some spaces, what we're not seeing is consistent attendance, and consistent attendance by senior people. So, if the people change each time, then you start the conversation again. Sometimes we're not seeing the most senior people. Sometimes, as I say, we're not focusing on those important issues that they can only deliver on together. Speaking frankly, I think there's an overemphasis on process sometimes and not on outcomes and on achieving the outcomes that they're set to achieve, and so some of the processes set up because of the well-being Act. But, in my view, if we could reduce some of the process and focus more on the outcomes, that would be a good step forward.

And what about the relationships with all the other bodies—the RPBs, for example, and corporate joint committees? How do they work out? Do you think we should have those three layers?

They serve different purposes. My view on this is there is a value in tidying some of this up, but some of the power and responsibility to do this is with local government, to be able to do this. I consistently raise Cardiff, but that's unfair to other public bodies who've done the same. But, in Cardiff, they have mapped the collaborative arrangements and looked at how they link to each other, and I believe they've removed some of the collaboration structures—that's right, Heledd—because they saw the duplication. So, it's not just a Welsh Government issue; I think it's a public body issue for themselves. And I think in particular, local government, if they have concerns about the complexity, can do something to tidy them up. But, yes, at the moment, they can be a bit complicated, I think, and can be a bit confusing for those that sit on the collaborative structures. 

One of the bits of feedback that I've had from speaking to public body members and chairs is you'll sometimes get someone put onto the PSB and they have no idea, when they come on to the PSB, what they're there to do and why they're there. So, the induction around the background to the PSB and what it's there to do is sometimes missing. These are not beyond our wit to address, and that's why we're working with the Welsh Government to improve in some of these areas.

Can I add something, just briefly? I think, in response to your earlier question, something we've called for in the past—we've called for consistently, haven't we—is around funding public services boards. Because they're not legal entities in the same way as a local authority or a health board, the way they hold funds is a bit more complicated than, say, the regional partnership boards, but it's a significant barrier to their working, because you can imagine the to-do lists and the desks of senior leaders are very busy, as all of yours are, I'm sure, and it means that they don't prioritise always the public services boards' work as much as they should do, and you get different appearances. So, something we suggested to the Minister, and to officials, and to the Cabinet Secretary, hopefully, now is that the funding that’s provided to local authorities and to health boards, be that grants or regional funds or their usual funding from the Government, should stipulate that collaboration, as it’s one of the ways of working in the Act—it’s a legal requirement—should be considered within spending those funds, because I think that would help in terms of local authorities, health boards, other national bodies that sit on public services boards, to take those funding proposals through the PSBs, and would open up more opportunity for projects, collaboration, so the funding is being spent regionally, collaboratively, in a way that meets the duties of the Act more. How popular that might be with individual public bodies might be another matter, but that’s one thing we’ve call for consistently to help.


Diolch, Gadeirydd. Dwi eisiau sôn yn benodol am yr adolygiadau adran 20, a mynd nôl, i ddechrau, at ddarn o waith a gafodd ei wneud gan eich rhagflaenydd chi, yr adolygiad i gaffael. Pa newidiadau ydych chi wedi gweld yn sgil yr adolygiad yna?

Thank you, Chair. I want to speak specifically about section 20 reviews. If we go back to a piece of work that was done by your predecessor, the review into procurement, what changes have you seen as a result of that review?

Yes, can I just say something about the section 20 reviews more generally? I think the section 20 review power is really the only stick that this role has. I do think far more is achieved by using the carrot, the advice and support, but the stick element of the role is important, too. I think, on both occasions where my predecessor has used the section 20 review, they’ve been successful. Public bodies have engaged with them constructively, and it has led to results. So, in terms of the procurement review in particular, I think one of the key successes from the procurement review was the setting up of the procurement centre of excellence, which was one of the recommendations of the report, and which is now established and supporting public bodies around procurement. So, I think that was a big win, but I think also the section 20 review that Jacob led around with the Welsh Government is also seeing significant benefits. So, I think it is a useful tool, and is something, because of resources, I won't be able to use very frequently, but it can have a significant impact, I think. 

Diolch. O ran y gwaith yna gyda Llywodraeth Cymru, oedd yna unrhyw feysydd, fyddech chi'n teimlo, lle nad oedd cynnydd digonol?

Thank you. And in terms of that work with the Welsh Government, were there any areas where you felt there was not significant progress?

Diolch am y cwestiwn, Sioned. Rydyn ni, yr wythnos diwethaf, o bosibl, wedi cael diweddariad gan y Llywodraeth yn sgil dogfen y gwnaethon nhw greu, sef CLIP, y continuous learning and improvement plan. Ac mae'r cynllun yna yn—. Fe wnaf i droi i'r Saesneg. Mae'n ddrwg gen i.

Thank you for the question, Sioned. Last week, we had an update from the Government as a result of a document that they put together, namely CLIP, the continuous learning and improvement plan. And that plan—. I'll turn to English if I may.

I think we're getting assurances from the Government that we're seeing the progress being implemented. There's a new approach to how they see the future generations champion on the executive board, a renewed energy on long-term thinking, and we’re working quite closely with the Government in how they use and promote the 'Future Trends Report'. There have been tailored sessions around energising and refreshing the Act’s purpose across different levels of Government, and looking to increase the way that the Act is used in inductions, for example, and how the Act is promoted, and the learning around the Act is promoted, internationally.

It does take me to some of the learning that still needs to be done, possibly, in the Government. I think we’d like to see, as to the sustainable futures division in the Government, the resourcing being available for them to deliver on the actions set out in CLIP. We meet with that team on a monthly basis to monitor the progress made, but also how this learning goes beyond the Government. The other public bodies are grappling with some of the same issues, but it’s not quite clear yet how that learning is making its way into public bodies. This committee will have heard us talk, when we did publish the section 20 review, on, actually, that good practice might sit outside of the Government and what’s being done to proactively bring that learning into the Government. One of the things that we still need to see progress on is how the 'Wellbeing of Wales' report, this statutory report that's published annually on the progress of the indicators and the milestones, is actually used and promoted across the public sector. That'll come out in September, and we're hoping that we're going to see a far more proactive approach by the Government in promoting that across the public sector. And we've already talked about the need, as we identified in the section 20 review, for the Act to be at the centre of the budget process as well. But I am pleased. The product that we produced in co-design with the Welsh Government was the ways of working journey checker that Derek mentioned earlier. I'm pleased that that's been used in developing the continuous learning improvement plans. So, it's a good demonstration of the action that Government have taken. I think it's on the right track, but some of those areas that I've identified need some focus.


Would you mind if I just came back on the procurement question, because this might be of interest to the committee and something perhaps you could give us some support with? Part of one of the recommendations was around complexity of terminology, different approaches by different local authorities and different public bodies, which is really difficult for SMEs and third sector organisations to understand. This is my background—we did a lot of work when I was chief executive at Cwmpas in this space. It's one of the areas that we're still making progress on, but we've got some way to go. And I guess this goes back to Jane's point, actually, about continuing the work of the previous commissioner—we haven't dropped this work, so we're still working in terms of procurement. It's using the well-being of future generations Act as the way in which we measure social value and community benefits. Rather than having community benefits approaches in one public body, social value over here, why aren't we all using the well-being of future generations Act as the way in which we ask our private sector, third sector organisations to demonstrate the additional value they bring to any contract they win? That gives consistency to them and it also supports them to align their work to the well-being of future generations Act. My colleague Alice has been working with Welsh Government, talking about social value impacts that they would use consistently. So, there's a job still to do in that space, other than setting up the centre of excellence. Thank you. 

Diolch. Un cwestiwn olaf: yn 'Cymru Can', ŷch chi'n dweud eich bod chi am gynyddu nifer yr adolygiadau sydd wedi'u targedu o ran asesu gweithrediad y Ddeddf. Ai adolygiadau adran 20 fydd y rhain, ac os felly, beth fydd eu ffocws penodol nhw?

Thank you. One final question: 'Cymru Can' states that you will increase the number of targeted reviews to assess implementation of the Act. Will these be section 20 reviews, and if so, what will their specific focus be?

Yes, that is what we were talking about in terms of reviews, increasing the number of section 20 reviews. Sophie did two; I haven't done one yet. But that was two over seven years. We haven't chosen the subject of those reviews yet, because we've got some criteria in place about how we might decide on where a review would take place, and we've got some lessons learnt from how the reviews took place last time, and how we can improve on it for future times, so we'll be applying those. But in terms of the specific subjects, they haven't been identified. I think my perspective on it is they don't always need to be perhaps as big as they've been in the past. They can be much more targeted, particularly as resources are limited, in terms of who we involve and what we ask. But the impact can be just as great, if not bigger, so that might be more of the approach we take.

Ac allaf i jest ofyn un cwestiwn cyffredinol i gloi, ar ran y cyhoedd? Achos fel rhywun sy'n cynrychioli, yn amlwg, rŷn ni yn gweld bod yna ymwybyddiaeth gynyddol o'r Ddeddf, yn enwedig wrth edrych ar yr hinsawdd ac ar gyfnod o gyni economaidd, pa mor bwysig yw meddwl yn ataliol, meddwl yn hirdymor. Ond oes yna unrhyw beth ŷch chi'n ei deimlo nawr, ar ôl blwyddyn yn y swydd, y gellid ei wneud er mwyn cael gwared ar y sinigiaeth sydd yna o gwmpas y ffaith bod yna ganfyddiad bod yna ddim dannedd gan y Ddeddf? A dwi'n meddwl, yn enwedig o ystyried toriadau nawr ym maes diwylliant, er enghraifft, bod pobl yn gweld eich bod chi yn ffocysu yn 'Cymru Can' ar hyn, ond yn teimlo bod realiti yn wahanol. Felly, ydych chi'n gwneud unrhyw waith o gwmpas hynny?

And can I just ask one general question to end, in terms of the public? Because as someone who represents the public, we know that there's an increasing awareness of the Act, and specifically as we look at climate change and the period of austerity, we can see how important it is to look in a preventative way and look in the long term at things. But is there anything that you feel now, after one year in the role, that you think could've been done to get rid of the cynicism surrounding the perception that this Act has no teeth? And especially considering the cuts in culture, for example, we see that you're focusing on this in 'Cymru Can', but people perhaps feel that reality is different. So, have you done any work around that?

I guess not in those terms. I do think there's a lot of frustration amongst particular community groups when they don't see things going as fast as they would like them to be doing. This is legislation that we put together because of 'The Wales We Want'. This is people's legislation, perhaps different from any other piece of legislation that the Welsh Government has passed, that many people in Wales feel an affinity to, that they've been involved with, that this is really their legislation, and they want to see it delivered. So, I think part of the reason for some of the frustrations is because of that buy-in that we've got from the people of Wales for this legislation. I think there's an opportunity potentially to review the legislation. If we undertake a post-legislative review, which I think the Welsh Government are scoping at the moment, let's learn the lessons about what we might do differently and what we might change, not just in terms of the role that I have but in terms of the implementation of the Act and how we can further improve it. 

One of the ways I think that we can do better at implementation is this point about empowering others to do it, not expecting it just to come through our office. We have got some great advice on our website about how individuals and community groups can understand the legislation and then use it themselves to advocate for decisions to be taken on the basis of the legislation in their communities. If we're able to do that much more, reaching out to the population more effectively to empower them to be advocates for it, I think that is when we're going to see even more significant change, and so I think that is something we need to do better at. We've got great advice, we point people to it when people come to us, but actually going out there and telling them how they might do that would be a really interesting area of work for us, because that would be very important. Heledd.


A gaf i jest ychwanegu rhywbeth yn glou? Rhywbeth dwi'n meddwl eithaf cyffrous sydd wedi digwydd yn ddiweddar yw ein bod ni wedi bod yn gweithio gyda WJEC o ran cymwysterau newydd o ran sustainable development a'r Ddeddf. Ac mae'r cwricwlwm hefyd, fel rŷch chi'n gwybod, efo llawer ynddo fe o ran y Ddeddf gydag addysgu plant a phobl ifanc o ran yr agenda yma. Hefyd, dŷn ni'n gweithio efo'r Brifysgol Agored a Llywodraeth Cymru o ran package o e-learning, so gobeithio bydd mwy a mwy o gyfleoedd i'r cyhoedd ddeall mwy am y Ddeddf hefyd, fel mae Derek yn ei ddweud, er mwyn adeiladu'r profiad a'r wybodaeth yna ar draws Cymru—wel, ar draws y byd, gobeithio, ond ar draws Cymru. Diolch.

May I just add something swiftly? Something quite exciting that's happened recently is that we have been working with the WJEC in terms of new qualifications with regard to sustainable development and the legislation. And the curriculum too, as you will know, has a great deal in it in terms of the Act and educating children and young people about this particular agenda. Also, we are working with the Open University and the Welsh Government to develop a package of e-learning, so hopefully there will be more and more opportunities for the public to understand more about the Act, as Derek has mentioned, to build the experience and knowledge across Wales—and across the world, hopefully, but certainly across Wales. Thank you.

Thank you, Chair. I wanted to ask you about your relationship with Audit Wales and the auditor general. I was wondering first if I could just get a better idea—. You mentioned at the start that one of your missions is to look at artificial intelligence and digitalisation, and I just wanted to get some better idea on AI, because I know your predecessor did a lot of work with the four-day working week and universal basic income, and there's a big discussion on the role of AI in terms of that. I just wanted to get some idea from you on that, if I may.

I guess it goes back to some of the points that Jane and others have been raising about continuing the work of the previous commissioner. We continue to advocate for considering the shorter working week, universal basic income too, and do so publicly. But in terms of the AI work more specifically, that is, for the reason I mentioned earlier, a long-term issue that is not on the agenda of all of the public bodies in the way that it needs to be, so that is why we're giving it a spotlight. We've only just started to scope the specific work that we'll do in this area, but it will be along the lines of understanding the long-term implications in terms of the positive and the negative and how AI can be harnessed to deliver on our well-being goals and ensuring better collaboration across the public bodies. But CDPS, as I mentioned earlier, are already in this space and we do not want to be duplicating what they're doing. 'Cymru Can' was only launched in November, and I'm afraid the AI area of work is probably the least progressed area.

I think it was Carolyn who mentioned earlier the political buy-in from councils and politicians, but then, I suppose, there are business leaders and public sector workers. I know one of the concerns expressed about the previous commissioner was that there may be an overstretch in the role. That was brought up with the UBI discussions and the four-day working week, in the sense that—. Hang on. I get feedback, so I'm listening to myself talking as I'm talking and I don't really like the sound of my voice, so it's a bit disconcerting. There was a concern there, then, that there's an overstretch, especially when the previous commissioner was saying about a lack of funding to do what they wanted to do. Do you think there's a concern there, especially with AI, that you might go down a certain route that might not be popular amongst some sections—maybe like the business community, for example?


In some ways, it doesn't matter to me whether it's popular or not. It matters to me whether it is important and relevant to this agenda, and the reason why it's been chosen is because we did a lot of research to understand what my strategy should concentrate on. This was looking at global risk registers, long-term trends in Wales and around the world, involvement of all different stakeholder groups in Wales, including the private sector, and they thought it was an important thing for me to be focusing on, because of this long-term agenda. I don't think it would be controversial, and I certainly don't think it's an overstretch, because this agenda is about looking at the long-term issues for Wales, and applying sustainable development approaches to our progress as a country. So, I certainly think it's in scope, and I haven't noticed any controversy.

But as you've mentioned the private sector, although the focus is on the public sector, one of the things I've found, Joel, since I've been in the role is incredible support from the private sector in a way that I didn't imagine would be the case. We can't work with all private sector organisations and we work with the CBI and FSB as intermediaries, but businesses come to us asking to be involved in this agenda in a very practical way. Organisations like Principality Building Society having a future generations fund, where they fund, through their own resources, activities in communities, in line with the well-being of future generations Act, is fantastic to see. The Football Association of Wales, Castell Howell—I could list a long list of private sector organisations who are really positive and supportive of this agenda and recognise it's a part of the Welsh narrative that's helpful to them as well in a business perspective. It helps Wales to stand out. To be fair, I didn't quite appreciate the positivity that I would receive from private businesses—not exclusively, of course, but largely—and that's been pleasing. We do engage with them where we can.

Thank you for that. Thank you, Chair. I'll go back to the original question. I'm keen to know a bit more about your relationship with the auditor general, about how closely you work together, and just to get a bit of an idea about that, if possible.

I enjoy a really positive and practical role, I guess, with the auditor general. We have different roles under the well-being of future generations Act. They undertake examinations of each of the public bodies every five years in terms of how they're delivering against their well-being objectives. My role is advice, monitoring, promoting, reviewing. We are careful to make sure we communicate regularly so that we are not stepping on each other's toes, we're not making things more complex for public bodies, and we're providing them with consistent messages about what good practice looks like. That works very well. I meet regularly with Adrian as the auditor general, at least twice a year. Heledd is our main contact for Audit Wales and meets with her colleague very regularly, every couple of months. We seek to achieve that close working together. We do things on issues of strategic importance, so we were in close dialogue around the new public bodies coming on board, the financial implications for us and them, and how we could make it work. That was a really constructive way of working. When we put together my strategy, we learnt a lot from the experience of the auditor general in terms of them carrying out their examinations, so that that guided the advice and the approach that we're taking through 'Cymru Can'. So, it's a strong relationship.

In practical terms, we are putting together an updated memorandum of understanding. So, we'll set this out. That's nearly ready to sign off. They run a good practice exchange for public bodies, and they ran one on the culture and Welsh language goal. I spoke at their events, and we were very involved in delivering those events. We've mentioned a few times this self-evaluation tool that we launched early in the year, called the ways of working journey checker. So, public bodies are being asked, by September, to complete this tool to see how they're doing in terms of the delivery. And the tool gives them recommendations about what more they can do to improve. That was done very closely with the auditor general, so we will learn from their examinations, and they're taking it out as they speak to public bodies. So, I don't have any negative things to say in terms of that. It's a very strong working relationship, which is not just warm words but is very practical, too.


Perfect. You mentioned there also Audit Wales. I know that, in the past, you've mentioned that you would be working closely with them in terms of creating effective monitoring, going forward. I was just wondering if you could give us an idea of what the latest is with that and what sort of progression has happened. 

Yes. So, I'll bring Heledd in in a second, because that is one of her areas. I think one of the ways in which we are able to monitor and assess progress is through this tool, this ways of working journey checker, because with this, for the first time, we'll get a picture from every public body in a consistent way about how they believe them to be delivering against the five ways of working, and it presents them with a plan about how they can improve. So, at the end of September, we will have the best-ever picture, I think, of progress across public bodies and where areas are not progressing as well and where we need to put more of a focus. And we will obviously be sharing that evidence with you, but also with the auditor general so that that can guide their work. Do you want to add anything else, Heledd?

Only just to give some examples, I suppose, on a very practical level, of some of the ways that we work together, as you've asked, Joel, around monitoring and assessing progress. So, we enjoy a really close working relationship with the well-being of future generations Act lead—my opposite, I suppose. We meet really regularly. What she does is that she gives us an overview regularly of what studies and examinations are being scoped. So, for example, in their forward programme of work, they're going to be looking at climate and nature and how public bodies are implementing the biodiversity duty. That's very relevant to our mission and very relevant to the work that we want to undertake. So, we're not going to duplicate that.

My colleagues who lead on that mission will work very closely with those auditors in order to share intelligence, build relationships with the public bodies that they're examining, and similarly, they're looking into a study into the cultural bodies. So, Jac has already been in touch with opposites there in terms of what that study will look at and how we complement each other. And it's been really useful in the past to have those discussions with Audit Wales, particularly when we put together our statutory five-year reports, which we've already started, both sides, for the 2025 reports. They have to bring together all of the examinations and evidence for the last five years, this round of the Act. It's similar, but they also provide recommendations so that we can act on the intelligence and evidence that they've gathered in order to form our recommendations and make sure, as Derek has covered, that we're being consistent with our messaging, that we're driving progress in the right areas, those sorts of things. 

Obviously, with Audit Wales and the auditor general, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they can't really make comment on the policy directions that you do. Is that something that you think would be beneficial in terms of helping to forge stronger collaboration, going forward, to get some idea from them about what they're thinking of what you've set out, if that makes sense?

If I understand your question correctly, I think that works well. They don't tell us what to do, but they do inform what we do by sharing their learning from undertaking their examinations. And they're very open, and we do that regularly with that learning. So, that is very useful and influential to us. I don't think it could be improved, really. I think it does work pretty well. They share information that's relevant and appropriate, and we use that to guide our work and vice versa. 

A couple of things from me. The latest Cabinet structure that's given three Cabinet Secretaries responsibility for the well-being of future generations Act: do you see that as an opportunity or a threat of dilution?


I don't see it as a problem, I guess. As Jac was saying, you made a really good point about the fact that this is all of our responsibility to deliver on the well-being of future generations Act, so I'm actually quite supportive. If parts of it have leadership by different parts of the Welsh Government Cabinet, that's something we've been used to, and something that is continuing in the current structure.

I didn't mention earlier, but I do engage with Welsh Government Ministers—Cabinet Secretaries, as we call them now—regularly, specifically where they relate to 'Cymru Can' and the delivery of the Act, and I don't think it will be an additional burden. So, the fact that Julie James is leading on PSBs—while I will be engaging with Julie James on her agenda in any case, Lesley Griffiths has overall responsibility; I've already met with her once and we've run a meeting with stakeholders on the Act already.

One thing I'm really keen to ensure is that we continue to have regular meetings with the First Minister. The previous First Minister was very engaged in this agenda and very supportive and I met with him regularly and I'm pleased to say I already have a meeting in the diary with the new First Minister. So, whilst recognising that the social justice Minister has lead responsibility within the Cabinet, I think it's vital that leadership also continues to be provided by the First Minister.

Thank you. And finally, I just wanted to come back to the food area of focus, because if we look at your five missions, all of them have food; you can't achieve any of them unless you deal with the issue of food. And perhaps to pick the health and well-being one, simply because that's where we spend half our budget: you talk in your 'Cymru Can' about escalating levels of diet-related illness. I think diabetes care has gone up from 10 per cent to 17 per cent and rising. So, what specifically are you hoping to do to have an impact? For example, have you asked the Welsh Government to stop procuring ultra-processed food in its school food and hospital food et cetera?

I discussed this with my advisory committee on Thursday, actually, and one of the challenges that I have in this space is it's so huge, the area of food, because everything is in scope, and it connects to so many big agendas where people are much more expert than we are as a team and have much more capacity. Where we're going to focus is on looking at the long term, thinking about food for the long term, and looking at the collaborations and connections between the different areas and the silos and the different bodies that are working in this space. So, I think that's where we can add some value. As a result of that, what I've called on Welsh Government to do is to put in place a food strategy, and it has to be owned by Welsh Government; there's no point in me doing that. The experience at UK Government is it has to be owned by the Government or it might not get taken forward. So, we want them to take that on, and that would be about looking at the interactions with different aspects of food and the food system and how we support it and what policy applies and whether things are working in an aligned way or whether they're working against each other, because there is a sense that that is happening.

But also, what public bodies are telling us is, increasingly, we're seeing more steps by public bodies on food as part of their delivery of the well-being Act. The well-being objectives and steps are increasingly having a focus on food and they want more direction about what that should look like—how they should approach activity on food that's aligned to the well-being Act. So, we will put in place advice and guidance for the public bodies in that area, but that should also be done alongside a food strategy.

It's already starting to make a difference. It's sometimes difficult in this job—perhaps I'll be careful how I say this—it's sometimes difficult in the job to see the impact that you're having, but we're getting great feedback on food, in that just because we're creating the space, things that we're not directly involved with are happening, because people are seeing the leadership from us as a team in terms of the issue of food, and that is fantastic to be seeing that kind of increased or new activity as a result of the spotlight.

One of the pleasing things, I think, that I was able to see at the food shocks event that we ran that you spoke at, Chair, and Jane Dodds spoke at as well, when we had a cross-party panel on food, we looked at the long-term issues of food for our country and, actually, by using the prism of looking 50, 75 years ahead at the food system, it was able to bring different groups together to understand areas of commonality and agreement that perhaps are more difficult to achieve when we're just looking at the here and now. So, environmental groups, retail groups, farming groups and others were all represented, and they were all finding common ground about what needed to happen to ensure we had a food system fit for the future. So, that's the space that we're occupying—again, a work in progress, but, already, I'm pleased with some of the progress that's happening.


Okay, but I think I'd like to hear a little bit more about how you're engaging with public bodies to really try and turn this round. We've got 2 million appointments for health in a population of 3 million. It's not 2 million people, it's people with multiple complaints. But, basically, we have a sickly population because people are being fed food that is killing them. So, what specifically are you able to do to start to change the dial on that?

I do think it's through the direction and advice we give to public bodies, and I do think, as we mature in our work on this, it may be making the request that you've just indicated around ultra-processed foods and calling out some of the policies and the funding that we use for things that are making us unwell. I would absolutely be in that space. We haven't got to that space yet—we're still at a food strategy kind of point. We have brought public bodies together. I'm just checking my notes, I wasn't at the meeting, but we have brought public bodies together already on the issue of food, not just at that event, but to support them to think about how they take action to learn from what other public bodies have been doing and how to integrate it within their well-being plans. But it is in exactly that territory, Chair, that I do see my role, because one of the beauties of this role, I guess, is that you can point to things that others are unwilling to point to because you're independent and you're not involved in the direct delivery of some of these programmes and policies, but you can call out things where, clearly, things are going in the wrong direction.

Thank you very much for your presence today and the information that you've promised to give us on some of the detail, but it would be very welcome—

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

We have 13 papers to note. Are Members content to note them? Thank you very much.

Under Standing Order 17.42—sorry, Joel, I beg your pardon. I didn't see you.

Sorry to interrupt, Chair. Is it possible to get another one of these? I think the battery is running out.

Roeddwn i jest eisiau codi, o dan lythyr 3.7, ynglŷn â'r ohebiaeth rŷn ni wedi ei gweld o ran carchar y Parc: a oes rhywbeth gallwn ni ei wneud fel pwyllgor o ran ysgrifennu at y Gweinidog cyfiawnder cymdeithasol, ac efallai'r Cwnsler Cyffredinol, i holi pa gamau pellach mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn eu gwneud er mwyn mynd i'r afael â'r sefyllfa sydd yna, o ystyried, wrth gwrs, fod gofal iechyd y carcharorion sy'n dioddef dan yr amodau fanna yn dod o dan gymhwysedd y Llywodraeth?

I just wanted to raise, under letter 3.7, with regard to the correspondence that we've received regarding Parc prison: is there anything that we can do as a committee in terms of writing to the Minister for social justice, and also the Counsel General perhaps, to ask what further steps the Welsh Government are taking to respond to that situation, bearing in mind, of course, that the health and well-being of the prisoners in these conditions comes under the auspices of the Welsh Government?

Yes, health services are delivered by the Welsh Government. I think, in the first instance, we probably need to go back to the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, because that letter was written a little while ago. In the meantime, obviously, a general election has been called; the Welsh Affairs Committee no longer exists. It is mainly the responsibility of the UK Government, how we manage our prisons, but, clearly, there are major issues around the management of addiction in our prisons, and particularly in Parc prison. So, I think it's difficult at the moment. There's a vacuum, obviously, in terms of the next UK Government, but these are very serious issues. But I think the best committee to pursue this is the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, because they've got that formal role with what legislation, what powers, we do and do not have and how we can interface on that. Because we do not have powers to completely overturn the administration of a prison.


Na. Jest eisiau gofyn, roeddwn i, a dwi wrth gwrs yn deall bod yna wagle ar hyn o bryd o ran yr hyn y gallwn ni ofyn i'r Llywodraeth ei wneud yn San Steffan, a'r adran yna, ond o ran beth mae ein Gweinidogion ni—. Dwi yn meddwl ei fod e'n fater o gyfiawnder cymdeithasol fan hyn o ran y sefyllfa sydd wedi codi gyda'r carcharorion yna. Felly, byddwn i'n meddwl y byddai'n werth i ni ofyn i'n Gweinidog ni yn ein Llywodraeth ni pa fesurau, pa gamau, y mae hi'n eu cymryd yn sgil y sefyllfa sydd yna, o feddwl am y ffordd maen nhw'n dioddef, nid o ran rheolaeth y carchar—dwi'n derbyn bod hwnna heb ei ddatganoli—ond o ran y gofal maen nhw'n gorfod ei dderbyn o ran, fel rŷch chi'n dweud, mynd yn gaeth i gyffuriau a hefyd, nawr rŷn ni wedi gweld sefyllfa o anrhefn yn digwydd, lle mae yna bobl yn dioddef anafiadau, ontefe?

No. I just wanted to ask, and of course I understand that there is a vacuum at present in terms of what we can ask the Government in Westminster to do, and the department there, but in terms of what our Ministers can do—. I think it is an issue of social justice here with regard to the situation that has arisen with those particular prisoners. So, I would think it would be worth us asking our Minister in our Government what measures, what steps, are being taken as a result of the situation arising in that prison, bearing in mind how they're suffering, not in terms of prison management—I accept that that is not devolved—but in terms of the care that they're having to receive, as you said, in terms of addiction and so on, and also we're seeing a situation now of disorder, where people are suffering injuries in that place.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Roeddwn i am godi hyn hefyd. Efallai fod yna amser i ni jest cael sgwrs ar ôl, efallai. Dwi eisiau gweld adolygiad byr ynglŷn â'r carchar. Dwi'n cytuno'n llwyr gyda beth mae Sioned wedi'i ddweud; mae o, fel dwi'n ei weld e, yn sefyllfa lle mae pobl o Gymru ac yng Nghymru yn dioddef, a dŷn ni fel pwyllgor yn gallu cydweithio efo pwyllgorau eraill i sicrhau ein bod ni'n gwybod beth ydy'r atebion i'r sefyllfa yng ngharchar y Parc. Felly, dwi eisiau rhoi hynny i lawr fel cynnig, efallai, i ni feddwl amdano yn y dyfodol. Diolch.

Thank you very much. I wanted to raise this also. Perhaps there could be time allocated for us to hold a discussion afterwards about this. I want to see a rapid review of this prison. I completely agree with what Sioned has said; as I see it, the situation is one where people from Wales and in Wales are suffering and we as a committee should work with other committees to ensure that we know what the solutions are to the issues that are coming up in Parc prison. So, I wanted to put that on the record as a proposal that we consider for the future. Thank you.

Okay. All right. Well, let's consider it further and then come back to it.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) i wahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting


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


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Under Standing Order 17.42, do I have the permission of the committee to now exclude the public and go into a private meeting for the remainder of today's meeting? I see no objections.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:33.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 12:33.