The latest report from the independent think tank, the Public Policy Institute for Wales, concludes that councils, health boards and Welsh Government can work together more closely and need to do more to learn from each other about ways of improving frontline services.
The report, A Shared Responsibility, has been written by local government expert Dr James Downe, of Cardiff Business School. It finds that the Welsh Government’s Invest to Save Fund supports valuable learning which should be shared much more widely by public services in Wales. Dr Downe recommends that:
- The Wales Audit Office builds on their work to date to assesses how well councils and other public services are working together to share good practice
- The WLGA uses its networks to promote ways of improving services, and
- The Welsh Government takes the lead in giving more emphasis to the importance of learning from the schemes that it supports through the Invest to Save Fund.
The report notes that the foundations exist for organisational learning to take place, and more needs to be done to build on the work which has already been achieved so that learning about improvement becomes the norm. It suggests that public services liaise with each other when designing projects and take more responsibility for sharing good practice – in their own sectors and beyond.
Professor Steve Martin, Director of the Public Policy Institute for Wales, said:
“It is often said that good practice is a poor traveller in Wales. This report helps to address this by suggesting practical ways in which councils and health boards can use the Invest to Save Fund to learn from each other about how to save money and improve the services they provide.”
The Invest to Save Fund provides resources from the Welsh Government to help councils, health boards and other public service organisations transform the way that they work through flexible, no interest loans. The first round of the fund, which saw around £100 million of investment from Welsh Government, was used on 90 projects across all public service sectors.
Dr James Downe is Director of the Centre for Local and Regional Government Research at Cardiff University. He is an expert on public service improvement and has evaluated a range of good practice programmes including the Beacon Council and Excellence Wales schemes.