Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business, was the keynote speaker at the launch of our latest report at a conference attended by public service leaders from across Wales.
Welcoming the report, the Finance Minister told the conference that the current budget round has been the toughest since devolution. This means, she said, that more than ever we need the best possible use of public spending by learning from best practice.
The report, A Shared Responsibility, written by local government expert Dr James Downe of Cardiff Business School, recommends a number of improvements to the ways in which councils, health boards and the Welsh Government work together to ensure that lessons from projects funded by the Invest to Save programme are adopted more widely to improve frontline services.
More than fifty participants – including chief executives and senior officers from health boards, councils, the police, further and higher education and Assembly Sponsored Bodies – came to the Millennium Stadium to hear the findings first hand. They strongly supported the report’s conclusions and endorsed the need for leaders to create space for innovation and experimentation, and they suggested that councils and health boards should appoint Invest to Save champions. Participants also spoke of the importance of learning across sectors and looking beyond Wales for new ways to deliver services more effectively.
Closing the conference, Vaughan Gething AM, Deputy Minister for Health, stressed the importance of public services to people’s lives. He warned that austerity was not a blip; it is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future. So it is vital that public services leaders have robust performance data which enables them to know what is and isn’t working.