Terms of reference for the Inquiry

1.   To gain an understanding of the structure and functions of the Public Services Boards.

2.   To explore the effectiveness of PSBs, resourcing and capacity.

3.   To gather evidence of issues or barriers that may impact on effective working, and examples of good practice and innovation.

Structure and functions of Public Services Board – background

Membership of PSBs is set out in SPSF 3- Cwm Taf is a Joint Public Service Board covering local authority areas of Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Councils, which form the Cwm Taf footprint, created in May 2016.  During the development of the Well-being Assessment and Plan, the Board put in place work streams and set out its aims, to 

1.   Improve the quality of life and outcomes for citizens of the Cwm Taf areas of Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil.

2.   Provide proactive, collective leadership in tackling the most challenging issues facing public services in the planning, commissioning and delivery of services to the citizens of Cwm Taf.

3.   Stimulate dialogue, co-ordination and co-operation between local, regional and national public sector organisations to improve and integrate service delivery for the citizen.

4.   Remove “blockages” or other obstacles by minimising bureaucracy and the preventative effectiveness of organisational boundaries.

5.   Celebrate success in the delivery of services for citizens of Cwm Taf.

6.   Consider ‘best value’ and prudency in the expenditure of public service resources and to explore areas where collaborations/ integration would provide greater efficiencies and improved outcomes; and involve citizens in influencing how we deliver public services.

7.   To demonstrate its commitment to developing a collaborative public service that puts the people in Cwm Taf at its centre, the PSB agreed a statement of intent in October 2016 about how its work would benefit the people who live and work in Cwm Taf now and in the future.

Since the implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the PSBs have been required to deliver a Well-being Assessment and more recently, a Well-being Plan setting out how the PSB will work together to improve the Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural Well-being of the area.  They must do this by working differently, through the 5 Ways of Working and meeting the 7 national Well-being goals.   44 public bodies have also published their own well-being objectives, and are also subject to the same duties in respect of Well-being, Ways of Working and national Well-being Goals.

Following the sign off and publication of the Well-being Plans, the focus of the PSB is now shifting to delivery these objectives.

The Cwm Taf PSB is currently reconsidering its membership based on the need for focus and contribution at the PSB level and whether some non statutory partners could provide a greater and more valuable contribution at delivery level.

The effectiveness of PSBs, resourcing and capacity.

PSB’s focus has shifted to delivery, this is the opportunity to fully test the understanding and commitment of PSB partners, this is both a challenge and opportunity.

It is too early to be clear about the effectiveness of the PSB; the focus on delivery of the Well-being Plan will provide early evidence.  There is need for time and space to reflect the experience of the Board to date and how it can maximise its contribution.

Individual Bodies’ investment in PSB differs, this can relate to financial and staff resource.

The Welsh Government Support for PSBs, financial and guidance is a helpful contribution.  However, given the level of input at the most senior level of partner organisations, the true costs arising from the resource required to deliver the requirements of the Act are difficult to quantify. 

The capacity to undertake and support the work of the PSB is underestimated and Cwm Taf recognised that it needed to provide direct support to supplement partners’ early contributions.  Also, each of the Public Bodies across Wales are also subject to the same WFG duties and will be seeking others partner input into their own Objectives outside the PSB arena.

Issues or barriers that may impact on effective working, and examples of good practice and innovation.

PSB relationships with other Boards is unclear.  Example, the Regional Planning Board, is currently unclear and the effect of the lack of clarify is likely to become an issue as the work of the Boards develops.

There is a need to ensure the work and Plans of all relevant Boards is fully aligned so that there is no overlap, duplication and ‘over governance’.  Example, the Social Services and Well-being Act and the resultant Area Plan priorities, some of which are similar but emerge from a different statutory basis have been identified and will need to be carefully managed.

Is there an opportunity to rationalise collaborative structures?

To what extent does the PSB have a strategic overview of Collaboration and does it need to look at areas and make them work?

Is there a need to consider the trade off between strategic oversight of Well-being Plan and other activities, e.g. ensuring the implementation of Commissioners’ requirements?

The work in respect of the Cardiff Capital Region Cit Deal and the Valley’s Task Force is helpful but requires alignment with PSB objectives, this would help ensure resources are best used and also to help ensure that residents and communities are not confused or overloaded by the initiatives that are all aiming to deliver benefits to them.

Cwm Taf is currently awaiting the outcome of the proposal to make changes to the Health Board Boundaries such that the Cwm Taf Health Board would be extended to cover the Bridgend locality which is likely to prompt discussions about the possibility of further extending the PSB from two to three County Boroughs.

Innovation/Good Practice 

The Joint nature of the PSB across the Cwm Taf footprint is enabling partners not based a Local Authority level, e.g. Health and Police, Fire and NRW to make best use of their resources.

The Cwm Taf PSB recently put in place a dedicated Partnership Support Team which is being jointly funded by partners.  Where some partners are unable to commit financially, they are committing resource to identified tasks.

This joint funding has also allowed the partnership to put in place a dedicated website.  Having established the initial site and agreed the funding, it is now being further developed to ensure the partnership makes best use of this resource http://www.ourcwmtaf.wales/