Agenda item

Regional Collaboration: Gwent Public Services Board

Purpose: To provide the Select Committee with an update on the proposals that have been developed to move to a Gwent-wide Public Service Board and an update on the process for developing the next Well-being Assessment and Well-being Plan.


Authors: Richard Jones, Sharran Lloyd


Richard Jones and Sharran Lloyd presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


Will the workload for officers increase? How will the work be distributed?

The current programme board has been in place for a long time. It was structured at the same time as the Public Services board, mirroring our local Monmouthshire Public Services board. Representatives at a senior level who have direct control over their service areas can direct and steer the delivery that needs to happen, and how they can best resource delivery against our Wellbeing Plan priorities. We don’t anticipate that workload changing dramatically because the Wellbeing Plan will stay current in Monmouthshire for the remaining two years of that plan. The programme board will retain strategic oversight of that delivery.

Regionalisation, and 5 boards potentially duplicating work, is a fair point to raise, but the programme board for us will retain ‘localism’ as part of this delivery and be the voice to the regional PSB where we have common priorities across the region. Where we have, for example, mental health or climate change that we know are common priorities across Gwent, under a regional PSB we anticipate that they will have more ability to direct the work regionally. Our programme board will then make sense of how that feeds down locally, especially as it pertains to Monmouthshire’s particular circumstances.

Until it starts, will we have an answer to the question of regionalism vs. localism?

We already see some of the tensions, in terms of local and regional delivery, which is partly why the remit of this Select committee was changed – because we wanted to know how effective regionalised agendas were in delivering on behalf of Monmouthshire. The learning from that will help to inform how we need to structure the Regional Public Services Board, regarding its performance management and accountability, and governance framework. We are looking at where public service boards have absolute responsibility for delivery, and where/why things should sit with the PSB going forward. We will have the correct performance management framework, governance and accountability structures in place to ensure that we are delivering effectively at a local level through the regional arrangements; the partnership landscape in appendix 4 illustrates how we will deliver outcomes for citizens in Monmouthshire. It could be argued that there is currently no governance structure overseeing the effectiveness of local delivery. The report also mentions scrutiny arrangements, which are being developed; we feel there is still the need to retain local and regional scrutiny to strengthen this approach.

Will we get additional benefits to ensure that we get good value from this kind of system?

This hasn’t required additional resources so far: we are servicing it through current structures and through cooperation with Gwent partners. At this time, we don’t believe that additional resources will be required. At the moment, officers are working collaboratively across Gwent. It lends itself to having officers who understand the local picture developing the regional approach.

The report says that each local authority will take a 2-year stint of overseeing the whole board – will that entail a single annual report for the regional body? Who takes the lead on the regional annual wellbeing report, or will it be a collaboration?

While the local wellbeing plan remains in place, we anticipate that Monmouthshire scrutiny will continue to receive an annual report from a local perspective. For the performance and governance arrangements just described, the regional PSB might have a role in formally signing off that report. But, as will be shown in the next agenda item, the content and updates for that are driven by a range of step leads from different partners sitting on the public services board. For the regional public service board, there is detail still to iron out in the discussions about governance arrangements, but we would perhaps expect that whoever takes that administrative oversight will have a key role to play in the annual report, though everyone who is a partner of the public service board has a responsibility to contribute to and update the performance of the areas on which they lead. This is unlikely to change.

The kind of relationships between organisations is different from those within an organisation. How are the relationships across the different counties?

We have been fortunate in Gwent to have been working with our partners through the GSWAG arrangement (Gwent Strategic Wellbeing Assessment Group) for the last 5 years – that is local authority partners and public service board partners, with the addition of Data Cymru, Future Generations Commissioner’s office, and Welsh Government. We have therefore developed relationships over a long period, working well in this area with our colleagues. There is trust and collaboration, so we can have awkward conversations, and sometimes compromise is required. There is commonality and shared purpose. As part of the regional approach to developing the PSB we have divided the work strands amongst us – so the workload is being shared across the region.

Has there been adequate training in this area, or do you require any?

Through the process we are learning from other colleagues, with the collaborative arrangement allowing the five areas to share knowledge.

Chair’s summary:

We've had a helpful discussion on the regionalisation of the Public Services Boards of Gwent. Key advantages highlighted this morning are a strengthened strategic board whilst retaining a strong local voice to enable us to respond to our communities. It should offer us a stronger oversight of some of the regional work such as domestic abuse and should enable us to have greater focus on common regional issues such as climate change and obesity. We've also talked about how plans should be more cohesive across the region and governance should be strengthened. The Select Committee gave its support to the original proposal to merge the PSB's, so we are content that regional arrangements are now being put in place. We are pleased that there is recognition of the need to ensure that we can scrutinise local delivery to ensure outcomes are provided for Monmouthshire citizens. Thank you to officers for all the work that must be involved in merging the boards and we will see what transpires in terms of the future scrutiny arrangements.


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