Y Pwyllgor Cyllid - Y Bumed Senedd
Finance Committee - Fifth Senedd15/11/2018
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Jane Hutt AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Cyllid|
|Member of the Finance Committee|
|Jayne Bryant AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau|
|Member of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee|
|John Griffiths AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau|
|Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee|
|Julie Morgan AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg|
|Member of the Children, Young People and Education Committee|
|Leanne Wood AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau|
|Member of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee|
|Lynne Neagle AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg|
|Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee|
|Llyr Gruffydd AC||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor Cyllid|
|Chair of the Finance Committee|
|Nick Ramsay AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Cyllid|
|Member of the Finance Committee|
|Sian Gwenllian AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg|
|Member of the Children, Young People and Education Committee|
|Suzy Davies AC||Aelod o'r Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg|
|Member of the Children, Young People and Education Committee|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Andrew Jeffreys||Cyfarwyddwr, Trysorlys Cymru, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Director, Welsh Treasury, Welsh Government|
|Anthony Jordan||Pennaeth Gweithredu Rhaglen Deddfwriaethol, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Programme and Legislative Implementation, Welsh Government|
|Julie James AC||Arweinydd y Tŷ a’r Prif Chwip|
|Leader of the House and Chief Whip|
|Mark Drakeford AC||Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Gyllid|
|Cabinet Secretary for Finance|
|Matt Wellington||Pennaeth Cyfnodi a Dadansoddi y Rhaglen Lywodraethu, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Programme for Government Reporting and Analysis, Welsh Government|
|Paul Dear||Pennaeth Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Cymru|
|Head of Equality, Welsh Government|
|Yr Athro Sally Holland||Comisiynydd Plant Cymru|
|Children’s Commissioner for Wales|
|Rachel Thomas||Pennaeth Polisi a Materion Cyhoeddusm, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Plant Cymru|
|Head ofPolicy and Public Affairs, Office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales|
|Ruth Coombs||Pennaeth y Comisiwn Cydraddoldeb a Hawliau Dynol yng Nghymru|
|Head of Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Georgina Owen||Dirprwy Glerc|
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.
Roedd hwn yn gyfarfod o’r Pwyllgor Cyllid, y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg, a'r Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau ar yr un pryd.
The meeting was a concurrent meeting of the Finance Committee, the Children, Young People and Education Committee, and the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:35.
The meeting began at 13:35.
Prynhawn da, bawb, a chroeso i bob un ohonoch chi i gyfarfod cydamserol o'r Pwyllgor Cyllid, y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg a'r Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau, er mwyn ystyried asesiadau effaith sy'n cyd-fynd â chyllidebau drafft Llywodraeth Cymru. Nawr, er bod yr asesiad effaith yn cwmpasu amrywiaeth eang o feysydd, bydd ffocws y sesiwn yma heddiw yn benodol ar faterion sy'n ymwneud â phlant, cydraddoldeb a chenedlaethau'r dyfodol. Mi fydd dull gweithredu heddiw, wrth gwrs, yn newydd, a gobeithio bydd e'n fodd i ni weld a ydy hwn yn opsiwn i ni wella'r modd rydym yn craffu yn drawsbynciol ar gyllideb ddrafft Llywodraeth Cymru.
Felly, ar y cychwyn fan hyn, a gaf i eich atgoffa chi fod clustffonau ar gael ar gyfer yr offer cyfieithu neu ar gyfer addasu lefel y sain? A gaf i ofyn yn garedig i bawb i sicrhau hefyd fod unrhyw declynnau electronig wedi'u tawelu? A hefyd, a gaf i ofyn os oes gan unrhyw Aelodau fuddiannau i'w datgan? Na, dyna ni.
Good afternoon, all, and welcome each and every one of you to this concurrent meeting of the Finance Committee, the Children, Young People and Education Committee and the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, to consider the impact assessments accompanying draft budgets of the Welsh Government. Now, although the impact assessment covers a broad range of areas, the focus of today's session will specifically be on matters relating to children, equalities and future generations. Our approach today, of course, is new, and I hope it will be a means to see whether this is a way of improving our cross-cutting scrutiny of the Welsh Government's draft budget.
So, at the outset here, may I remind you that headsets are available for interpretation or amplification? May I remind everyone to ensure that any electronic devices are on silent? And, may I ask if any Members have any declarations of interest? There are none.
Ymlaen a ni, felly, at yr ail eitem. A gaf i estyn croeso cynnes i'n tystion ni'r prynhawn yma ar gyfer y sesiwn gyntaf yma sef, Ruth Coombs, wrth gwrs, pennaeth y Comisiwn Cydraddoldeb a Hawliau Dynol yng Nghymru; yr Athro Sally Holland, Comisiynydd Plant Cymru; a Rachel Thomas, pennaeth polisi a materion cyhoeddus Comisiynydd Plant Cymru? Mi awn ni'n syth i gwestiynau, os ydy hynny'n iawn gyda chi. Mi wnaf i gychwyn efallai drwy ofyn os ŷch chi'n teimlo bod yr asesiad effaith integredig strategol yn welliant ar yr hyn rydym wedi ei gael yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf.
We'll move on, therefore, to the second item. May I extend a warm welcome to our witnesses this afternoon for this first evidence session: Ruth Coombs, head of Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission; Professor Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales; and Rachel Thomas, head of policy and public affairs for the Children's Commissioner for Wales? We'll move immediately to questions, if that's okay with you. I will start perhaps by asking whether you feel that the strategic integrated impact assessment is an improvement on what we've had in previous years.
Do you want me to go first?
Yes, lovely. Thank you.
Is it an improvement on previous years? Well, for me, comparing the narrative around the budget this year to previous years, there have been some improvements. The narrative is fuller, there are far more mentions of children this year and of the UNCRC itself: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has 13 mentions. I also welcome many lines of funding within the budget. I know we're not going to talk about the actual allocations today, but it's been pleasing to see some reinstatement of cuts that we had previously been concerned about the year before. But I'm sure we'll come back to the reasoning behind those as well.
But when we go on to the actual strategic integrated impact assessment, I do have a number of concerns about how it's presented, which is obviously all I've seen. I haven't seen any of the work behind it. I suppose a summary of my view of it would be that the narrative around children's rights in particular appears to be used to confirm why decisions have been made, rather than to have informed the decision-making process. It may have been used to inform the decision-making process, but that's not transparent or clear to me or to the general public.
There's also no clear narrative overall for me as to what the budget means for children overall. I have to piece that together throughout the budget and, of course, many of the lines are for all ages and not for specific vulnerable groups or specific groups with different needs amongst children. So, there's a bit more there this year on children, but my overall assessment, and I've got lots more detail I can give you on that—. But that's my overall summary.
And we'll be interrogating those further as we go along in our session. Ruth, what about your take on this?
Yes, I would echo, I think, what Sally would say. I think that it can be helpful to look at things in a cross-cutting way and across the piece, but it still has to be clear about how decisions are made. For us, there's a lack of clarity about what actually has been assessed. What impacts have actually informed that decision making? And also, we feel that it's a bit too broad. For example, it talks about vulnerable groups. It doesn't drill down to different protected characteristics, what the impacts of those might be, what the socioeconomic impacts might be and also what decisions have been changed as a result of actually doing it. So, it appears to be more of a narrative about, 'This is what we've done.' I'd certainly echo Sally's point that children are much more elevated in the impact assessment, which is a good thing, particularly in light of our 'Is Wales Fairer?' report that talks about levels of poverty, particularly children in poverty. So, that's a step in the right direction, but it does fall short of looking at the different protected characteristics. It's too high level just saying 'vulnerable people'. People are not so much vulnerable—people can be in vulnerable situations, but people with protected characteristics are not necessarily considered vulnerable, but we can't see the impact on those.
Okay. Fine. Thank you for that. Lynne.
Thank you, Chair. So, the impact assessments cover a wide range of areas: human rights, children's rights, equality, Welsh language, economic development. So, what do you think the impact is of having such a wide range of considerations included in the impact assessment?
If I start on the impact for children perhaps you can give that broad overview, as is your role—that would be great. I've talked to officials and Ministers a number of times over the last two years about how we can get greater efficiency into the process of impact assessments, and I completely support that drive to cut down bureaucracy and to increase efficiency, but it can't come at a cost to effectiveness. I'm afraid that I don't see any move forward in terms of effectiveness, and in fact can see some really poor examples, actually, over the last two years when this method has been used.
Overall, in terms of efficiency, I would be supportive of an overall impact assessment being published with the budget. However, each line relating to different groups needs to link back to really effective impact assessments that have been done at the policy-development level, and then that can be linked back to or summarised to explain why this spending decision has been made, whether it's an increase in funding or a cut in funding, what impact it has on children and on different groups of children. Really, it's often too late to do it at the budget level. We would want that decision to be made much earlier.
Without concentrating, for me, on children as a group and groups within that, it does leave me, as commissioner, having to piece everything together. So, for example, twice in the paperwork the pupil development grant access fund, which we know is what replaced the previously cut school uniform grant—it's been brought back; I welcome that, I welcome the fact it's proposed to be doubled as well—it's said that it's part of a package of support on child poverty, so I eagerly looked for this package of support but couldn't find it anywhere. I think it says that twice, but I couldn't find this package of support.
So, I would have liked to have seen a much more coherent narrative about what the strategy is for tackling child poverty, which of course is such a high priority—must be such a high priority for the Government. That would have been really good to see, and then that linking back to the impact assessments on those individual lines as to why the decisions were made to put it in to support child poverty there and there. I think there probably are some good reasons to put it in the PDG access fund but I'd like to know more about why. Who will gain from it? Who might miss out from it? Who won't be eligible for it?
Certainly, in terms of broader protected characteristics, again there's a lack of clarity anywhere within the report about the impacts on particular protected characteristic groups. It also doesn't—there's no evidence that it looks at intersectionality. People are complex and we don't just have one—. We all have at least one protected characteristic—actually, we probably have at least two because we're all an age, whatever that age is, and we also have a protected characteristic around our gender or our sex. So, everybody's got more than one protected characteristic, and what we don't see is the intersectionalities. And what we do know, from our work, is that where you have intersectionalities, people who are disadvantaged because of one protected characteristic have multiple layers of disadvantage. So, for example, if you happen to be a disabled woman who is also black, you're going to have multiple layers of that. And you can't see how the impact assessments or the budgets have been constructed to take account of those different intersectionalities across the protected characteristics. So, we do feel that there's something missing there and we do know that those who are the most disadvantaged are more likely to be missed out the more you aggregate and uplift and add together. So, if you're looking at a range of different things: economic environment, and then you start layering other things in, you're likely to have to people slip through the gaps. It's usually the people who are furthest away from being able to actively participate in society that are there—those with the least voice. So, that's a big risk.
Thank you. John.
I want to ask about the new integrated assessment tool, your views on it and what involvement you've had in its development.
We had some work with it early on in development, so we had sight of it fairly early on. We haven't had ongoing involvement in its development. Our view would be that assessing equality impacts has got to be integral at the part—. And regardless of whether of you have an equality impact assessment, you have an integrated tool, whether it covers one strand or whether it covers everything, what sits underneath it has to address the statutory requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and the public sector equality duty for Wales across the protected characteristics. The concern that we would have is that it seems quite complicated, but what sits underneath it, again, seems to be in strands and what equality doesn't do is cut across, which is what we were hoping that it would do. And if equality's not cutting across, and within equality you're not getting through to intersectionality, again you've got that concern that people are going to be falling through the gaps and things are going to get missed. And it becomes something that isn't as meaningful as it's intended to be.
I thought I had had some involvement in the development of the integrated assessment tool, but it turns out it was a different one. There are two at the moment, as far as I'm aware, in Welsh Government. I'll bring Rachel in in a minute because she's been particularly involved in this. But we have been consulted on and inputed into the children's rights aspects of the general new integrated assessment tool across Welsh Government. But this turns out to be a different one that's being used in a different way, and I haven't actually seen the details of this tool. I hadn't realised it was a different tool and it explains, really, why I had slightly confusing discussions with some officials over the summer when I was told this was now being implemented from July. I said, 'But it was used last year in the budget. Why is it being implemented now?' I don't know if you want to expand on that, Rachel.
Yes, sure. So, because of our concerns about the budget process last year, we'd expressly asked to be involved and to make sure that children and children's rights were more prominent within the process. And we did meet with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance on this. But then, we were led down another avenue where we had involvement in the children's rights aspects of the same name—the SIIA—that's been used by policy officials in Welsh Government since July of this year. So, we haven't had any input at all into the budget version.
For me, it's baffling that there could be two documents called the same thing to do the same thing. But they don't do the same thing. And that might perhaps explain why some of the queries in our written paper of evidence talked about what we were expecting to see in the SIIA this year not appearing. It's because we were looking at a different version. So, in terms of the budget, whilst Sally's mentioned that we're pleased to see more references to children and the UNCRC in this year's budget, we haven't been able to shape that any further and have any involvement in that.
Okay. Thank you. That's rather concerning, I have to say.
Yes, it is rather worrying.
So, you haven't been involved. Have you seen evidence that children and other groups of people have been involved in the development of these?
The involvement we did have was I had a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance to discuss my concerns, earlier this year, and to discuss why and what I would like to see. So, I was involved in that way, but not with the actual tool, and, as I say, it's only really today it's clicked for us that there were two different versions.
In terms of children's engagement, well, my understanding is that there's been some participatory involvement by citizens, both last year and this year, and I was told by the Cabinet Secretary that that involved children as well, last year—not to a great extent, and he said that they hope to do more of that. But there's no detail, as you'll be aware, in the paperwork, as to how that happened for this year's budget, and I have no further awareness of how that was done. In my written evidence, I refer to the great strides that the children's committee made over eight years ago now, on this issue; it published a paper on children's budgeting, which included, of course, a request for participative budgeting by children, and that was accepted as a recommendation by Government, but I'm not aware—. That was 2010. I'm not aware of that having ever been put into place in any meaningful way, and, of course, it does have to be meaningful. None of us want to see one tokenistic focus group, for example—that wouldn't be meaningful for anyone—but we have got some examples of where that's been done at a local authority level. Swansea is a particular example of that. Cardiff's also involved children in commissioning. And I'm sure there are other examples in other parts of Wales where children have been much more meaningfully involved, through holding events, perhaps, where they've been educated about the budget, and taking part in helping to advise on some of the very difficult decisions that have to be made around budgets, whether at a local level or a national level, because we all have to acknowledge, I think, that whoever's making decisions about budgets are making them within a very tight financial environment. I think that we should be involving citizens of all ages, including children, in helping to inform that.
Just to give one example, perhaps, from last year, of where I think that might have made a difference would be the cut we saw last year to the school police liaison officers; the children's committee were concerned about it, as was I. That was cut. It was understood to be something that has been put in place many years ago to help with substance misuse prevention. I think if anyone had gone out and done some participatory discussions with teachers, with children, they would have understood that, actually, that role has expanded enormously and is now involved hugely in things like cyber bullying, sexting, getting involved to divert children from the criminal process. Schools enormously value that, and it was maybe seen as just a bit of a lobby from the police, rather than actually going out and finding out what value it has, and what the impact might be if that was cut. That's an example of where you might get a different perspective by going out and asking children their views. So, I'm all in favour of the Government really having a go at doing that properly. I realise it takes resource, but I also think it will lead to better decisions.
Thank you for that. Briefly—. I'm sorry to be—. We're halfway through the session and we have a lot of ground to cover still, and it's a large committee as well, so, yes. Thanks.
Yes, certainly. We don't have a lot of evidence that there has been engagement and involvement, wide scale. That, obviously, is a principle of the public sector equality duty, under the Equality Act, and it's also a requirement under the UN conventions, for example, the United Nations convention on the rights of disabled people; the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is the convention that's going to be looked at in February next year, which is around the elimination of discrimination against women. So, there isn't a lot of evidence around there. The other thing that we would note is that, as I say, we haven't been fully sighted on it. We've had some limited impact, particularly through the budget advisory group on equality, but is that sufficient? I don't think that counts as sufficient engagement across the piece, because there are only limited people sitting around that table. And also, to say that it's a tool, and if it's a tool, the key thing is that people need to be trained, and people need to be trained in equality and human rights, as well as technically how to use the tool, they need to be trained in the equality and human rights implications of the use of the tool, and we would like to see some clarity around that.
Thank you. John.
Ruth, I was going to ask, in terms of your paper and its highlighting of the 2012 recommendations to Welsh Government in terms of the equality impact assessment of the budget, to what extent have those recommendations been implemented?
They haven't been fully taken on board, and, certainly, we welcome that there's been mention of cumulative impact assessment, both in Welsh Government's written response and in the SIIA for the outline budget in paragraph 8, but we would actually want to see that taken up fully. We know that the cumulative impact assessment—which I'm going to call CIA because it's really hard to say—does make a difference, and it looks at the impact of tax and welfare reforms. It's not just looking at welfare reforms.
One thing I can share with you is that—. Nobody else has even seen this, I can't leave it with you, it's published next week, and it's the work that we've been doing with Landman and Aubergine Analysis around CIA. There is some interest in CIA from Welsh Government, and we are in a position to be able to support committees and Welsh Government in engaging with CIA in terms of technical guidance on how that works. We do know that it is seen as international best practice, the work that we're doing, and I think that that would be the major gap in recommendation because we felt that that was the most important of the recommendations, and it's good to see that there's a positive direction of travel, but we'd like a nudge on that, if possible, please.
Okay, thank you. Siân.
A oes yna unrhyw benderfyniad penodol yng nghyllideb eleni sydd yn peri pryder i chi, neu a ydych chi'n teimlo y buasai wedi elwa o gael asesiad effaith mwy manwl?
Were there any particular decisions in this year's budget that caused you any concern, or do you feel would have benefited from a more in-depth impact assessment?
I would say that in our role as a regulator, one area we look at is if allocations will allow Welsh Government departments to fulfil their statutory obligations. So, what we found in responding to our compliance work, for example, which is live at the moment—public bodies are flagging that their work to tackle inequalities is being constrained through the context of tightening budgets, and it's proving difficult. And, obviously, one example is in mental health provision, that's being constrained. We also know that there are constraints in health and social care, and there are efforts to bring these together, but there's much more—. It appears that, although there's a move to integration, looking at the SIIAs, the emphasis is still very much on health rather than health and social care. Obviously, local authorities, being the prime leaders in terms of social care, are talking about budget constraints leading to, for example, cuts in the staff who actually monitor and act as champions around equality decisions, and that's a concern about whether or not—. However local authorities use their money is, obviously, for them to decide, but what we wouldn't want to see is that those differences in provision lead to a reduction in their ability to meet their public sector equality duties, and we've got concerns around that and also concerns around what that also means at Welsh Government level if there are differences in the way that things are done.
Can I just ask Siân to come in with the next question as well, because we are running out of time, I'm afraid, and we really have to be sharp in our answers too?
Felly, yn ogystal ag unrhyw beth penodol, rydw i'n gwybod bod gennych chi gonsyrn ynglŷn â dyraniadau'r gyllideb ar y cynnig gofal plant a'r lleihad yn hwnna oherwydd bod yna lai wedi bod yn cymryd rhan ynddo fo. A fedrwch chi ymhelaethu ychydig ar hwnna, yn ogystal â sôn am unrhyw beth arall sydd yn peri pryder i chi?
So, as well as any specific issues, I know that you have concerns about the allocations to the childcare offer budget and the reduction in that because of low take-up. Could you expand a little on that as well as talking about any other concerns that you have?
Well, I think that would be—. That's a good example for me, really, of where a more in-depth children's rights impact assessment would have helped me understand the reasoning behind the decision there. I understand that there was, for the childcare offer—I think it was to do with levels of take-up—a reduction of £5 million, which has been moved to a prevention fund that is for all ages.
Members of the children committee will be familiar with the fact I was critical of the initial CRIA—the children's rights impact assessment—on the childcare offer because it only covered, in its analysis, which children were covered by the offer, not those who missed out from the offer, which, to me, felt like a huge omission. And, of course, because that's not, as far as I know, been remedied, I still don't understand what the decision making was around that £5 million, and whether it could have somehow been used to mitigate the circumstances of the children who have missed out from the offer, who are the children I'm probably most concerned about in their early years, who are the children of non-working parents.
Thanks, Chair. Can you tell us whether you support the SIIA's approach to local government funding in that it's up to local authorities to assess impact, not the Welsh Government? I ask that question notwithstanding that you've just said that there are two SIIAs, and I'm not sure which one we're referring to. Apologies.
Okay. That's probably the budget one, then, I think; it seems the most relevant one here. I suppose, in terms of children's rights impact assessments, the legal duty lies with the Welsh Ministers, not local authorities. Until we have a further incorporation of the UNCRC into our law, then local authorities aren't required to pay due regard to children's rights. Many of them do, many of them are very committed to it, but they're not required to do so. So, obviously, at Government level, the big debate often is, what goes into grant funding to local authorities? What's ring-fenced, and what goes into the revenue support grant? And, if, at a Government level, at a national level, we see some really good assessing of impact, then that will really help that decision making of what's protected, in my case, for children, and for particular groups of children, through grant funding and what goes into the RSG that would be better supported. And everyone would understand better what the reasoning was behind that, if that impact assessment was done really well at a national level. So, we can't expect, on a legal basis, local authorities to be doing that assessment, although they often do. Or they sometimes do.
Can you tell us whether or not the impact assessment acknowledges and adequately addresses the key inequalities that were set out in the 'Is Wales Fairer?' report?
We see that some of them particularly chime with Government-stated priorities such as mental health, disabled people's employment, but it's important that that's translated into budget allocation. We know that, for example, disabled people are falling further behind; we know that race inequality still persists in Wales. For example, 74 per cent of all hate crime is either racially or religiously motivated, and so, because we can't see the intersectionality in the budget, it's really difficult to see that those people who are particularly falling behind—. So, for example, Gypsy, Roma, Traveller educational attainment, looking at higher educational attainment gaps for black students who come out with degrees that are lower than their white peers' and then they get into lower paid employment. None of that can really be unpicked because there isn't enough detail that we can see around the different protected characteristics. So, there is a real opportunity for future budget allocations to actually look much more closely at the recommendations in that report and align more closely.
Can I just ask one short supplementary?
I'm really sorry, we're not going to get to the end of the list, I don't think, but we'll do our best. We'll come back at the end if we do have time, if that's okay. Suzy.
I think I can keep mine fairly short. You mentioned, Sally, in your opening remarks, that the narrative to the integrated impact assessment was an improvement, but can you tell us to what extent you think that impact assessment fulfils—and visibly demonstrates fulfilment—of the Welsh Government's legal obligations under the children's rights Measure? The same question to Ruth about public sector equality measures. And do either of you think that some legal duties are being highlighted more than others in the assessment?
Okay. It's not clear to me, because there's not enough detail as to whether Ministers have fulfilled the due-regard duty. I can, second-hand, interpret some of that. There are some welcome new funds, like £10 million to prevent youth homelessness, for example, which could be seen as—. But the reasoning behind that is not set out in terms of the UNCRC, except to link it to one of the articles—article 19. I wouldn't expect, as I've already said, hundreds of pages on this under each line, but I would expect each line to be underpinned by that work having been done at the policy development stage under each of the relevant Ministers, and I can't see that link. I can't see how the due regard to children's rights has informed the different budget lines, except on rare occasions.
Okay, thank you.
I would just like to add that we understand that each department or Minister will be able to go into further detail about the equality impacts of their particular budget lines, but that kind of seems a little bit late. It needs to be front ended. It's not something that you then run through a lens at the end of the process; it needs to be built right the way through the process. The key points in the public sector equality duty are engagement and the use of relevant information, and there's not a lot of evidence in the document about either engagement or which relevant information has been used. So, it's a bit unclear as it stands.
So, it could be implicit but isn't explicit.
It's not explicit, no.
Thank you. Jayne.
Do you agree with the conclusions from the recent rapid review of gender equality that there's a risk that new duties, such as those in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, are supplanting existing duties rather than integrating with them?
I think there are clear overlaps in the duties, and that should be a strength, not a weakness—look to see where we can combine in strength. But we also think that there's more work that needs to be done by Welsh Government to ensure that all the different duties are aligned and complementary, but it's essential that the specific aims of each don't become lost. So, we've called for the public sector equality duty to be reviewed and to be more outcome focused. And Welsh Government is supportive of that, and the gender equality review is one avenue for some of that. It doesn't address all of it. We need to understand more clearly—and people who are making policy decisions, people who are making budget decisions need to understand more clearly—the benefits of the duties.
The other challenge, of course, is that the public sector equality duty sits under the Equality Act 2010, which is reserved legislation. Other pieces of newer legislation in Wales are devolved legislation. The public sector equality duty and the Equality Act cover more public bodies than other new Welsh-specific legislation does. So, there are differences and they complement each other, but we've got to guard against the risk that, by having something that's integrated and full, you think that, by meeting the requirements of one piece of legislation, that automatically means that you're meeting the requirements of other pieces of legislation, because that's not necessarily true. But I think it's about alignment and complementarity—those are the two key points.
Yes. I think the future generations Act—the principles of it are compatible with children's human rights and with the public sector equality duty, but they don't and cannot replace them. It's not a human rights Act in any sense. It's not framed in human rights treaties language and methods. Sophie Howe and I have discussed this many times and we've completed work together on this and have created both a guide and a toolkit that could be used at a Government level as well as by other individual public bodies on how the two can be compatible, to make sure that people, whilst implementing the ways of working and the goals of the future generations Act, also pay due regard to children's rights. So, we have done work on this to make that easier for people because we realise that sometimes it feels like, 'Oh, there's another thing and another thing and another thing', especially at a local level. Public bodies can find that a burden, but, actually, they can work really well together.
Okay, thank you. Nick.
Diolch, Chair. What are the challenges to integrating the various legislative requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the public sector equality duties and the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011?
I suppose, just as a little bit of overlap with my last answer, they have got different legal requirements, but I think they can be seen as compatible with each other. But we can't say that, because we're doing the future generations Act, the ways of working or working towards the goals of it, we're therefore doing human rights and we're therefore doing children's rights specifically. Particular attention needs to be paid to those and there is a legal duty for the Government to do so. Is there anything to add to that?
I would just add that, as I said, fewer public bodies are subject to the well-being of future generations Act than are subject to the PSED that are listed in Schedule 19, Part 2 of the equality Act. Notable exceptions are around schools and further and higher education institutions. They are covered by the PSED; they're not covered by the well-being of future generations Act. The other thing is that the duties are different. In terms of the public sector equality duties, they're due-regard duties, whereas the duties under the well-being of future generations Act are reasonable steps, which is a bit more progressive. But we do know from work, from some research that we've undertaken in the context of UN conventions, that due-regard duties do have impact, do make a difference in Wales. So, there are differences in it, and as I say, for us, it's about where can we meet together, where can we make sure that people who are protected under different pieces of legislation do still enjoy the protections to which they are entitled? And we mustn't lose sight of that—that what we're here to do is to ensure the rights of children, of people with protected characteristics and of future generations in Wales.
Do you think the future generations Act is being mainstreamed enough? We took evidence this morning in the Finance Committee from the commissioner and she said that it's very much still in silos rather than each section of legislation effects being connected together.
It's definitely a work in progress, as is integrating children's rights, for which the legislation was passed much earlier. I think, in terms of it being an overarching piece of legislation, we have to remember that we have children's rights because children have less political, social and economic power than adults, and so therefore they have an extra layer of protection through the UNCRC. If we do too much that's on an all-age basis, then we find that those with less power tend to lose out, and that's why we need to maintain and keep a place for that specific protection for children.
I'm getting the Chair's eyes, so—
Yes, we have two questions left and we've got about two or three minutes, so, Lynne, first of all.
Are there any examples of good practice from other countries that you could share with us in terms of the way that the equality and children's rights impact assessments are conducted?
When the children's committee did that report on children's budgeting and it was accepted mostly by Government, Wales was held up internationally as being leading on this and it still does appear in reports as something that Wales is leading on or has led on. So, there actually aren't many good examples of it being done well in budgeting. There are certainly some where you can trace more easily the spend on children, but it is a difficult thing for governments to do well. I think it's just that we don't want to miss that opportunity. That work is done. I know it's eight years old, but we could look back at it and have a go, because Wales was really held up and I still see it in documents now—how well Wales does on this—but we haven't actually implemented it.
In terms of cumulative impact assessment, the work that Landman Economics have been doing with us is considered internationally as good practice and is groundbreaking, and, again, would be an opportunity for Wales to lead the way in improving how it integrates its assessments by looking at cumulative impact.
Thank you. Jane.
Yes, that leads to my question, which is: can you just say a key change that you'd like to see next year in terms of impact assessments?
I'd love to see a cumulative impact assessment on children and on different groups of children—something much more like a children's budget statement, and something that was also accountable to children themselves, as well.
And we would like to see the cumulative impact assessment methodology adopted, because it does look to work, and it looks at tax as well as welfare, so that it can be used for different purposes. Certainly, it would be a way of ensuring that, for those people whose voices are least heard, the impact on them could be seen much more clearly. And also, looking at things longer term, so that things like cumulative impact, things like looking at the impacts are not just looked at in terms of the budget next year, but looking at it now for the budget that's after that—not the next one, not the one after that, even, but the one after that, so that it really does start to look at it right from the beginning of planning and so it's not seen as a bit of a bolt-on towards the end of the process.
Can I thank you very much for your evidence? We're very much contributing, hopefully, to that process and that culture change, and I think it's reflected in the fact that three committees coming together shows how keen we are to promote this whole agenda, really. We value your evidence and contribution, and we'll certainly take a lot of that into our next session with the Cabinet Secretary. So, can I thank you again? Diolch yn fawr.
We'll break for two short minutes and we'll reconvene for a 14:20 start, if Members are content. Diolch.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 14:16 ac 14:21
The meeting adjourned between 14:16 and 14:21.
Croeso nôl i'r cyfarfod arbennig yma. A gaf i estyn croeso arbennig i Mark Drakeford, Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Gyllid, a Julie James, Arweinydd y Tŷ a'r Prif Chwip? A gaf i ofyn efallai i'ch swyddogion chi gyflwyno eu hunain? A gawn ni ddechrau ar y dde?
Welcome back to this special meeting. May I extend a particularly warm welcome to Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, and Julie James, Leader of the House and Chief Whip? May I ask your officials to introduce themselves? We'll start on the right.
Matt Wellington, Welsh Government Cabinet Office.
Andrew Jeffreys, Welsh Treasury.
Paul Dear, Welsh Government equalities team.
Anthony Jordan, social services and integration directorate.
Diolch yn fawr iawn. Croeso unwaith eto i bob un ohonoch chi. Fe wnaf i gychwyn, os caf i, gyda'r cwestiwn agoriadol a gofyn i chi sut mae'r asesiad effaith integredig strategol wedi cael ei wella ers y flwyddyn diwethaf.
Thank you very much. A warm welcome to each and every one of you. I will start with the opening question and ask you how the strategic integrated impact assessment has been improved since last year.
Cadeirydd, diolch yn fawr. Rwy'n mynd i ddechrau i ateb y cwestiwn cyntaf, te. A allaf i ddechrau drwy jest esbonio y broses rŷm ni'n ei defnyddio yn fewnol pan fyddem ni'n paratoi'r gyllideb? So, mae'r broses yn cychwyn cyn y Pasg bob blwyddyn. Rwy'n cael cyfarfodydd gyda bob aelod o'r Cabinet, ac mae hynny jest yn rhywbeth i ddechrau'r broses. Ac, wrth gwrs, y gyllideb sydd o'n blaenau ni am y flwyddyn ariannol nesaf yw yr un olaf yn y cyfnod presennol. Rŷm ni'n disgwyl y comprehensive spending review nesaf yn y flwyddyn nesaf. So, y gyllideb sydd o flaen y pwyllgor am y flwyddyn nesaf yw'r un olaf yn y cyfnod yna, a'r ail flwyddyn yn y gyllideb roeddem ni'n ei rhoi o flaen y Cynulliad flwyddyn yn ôl. So, nid oedd lot o newidiadau yn y gyllideb am y flwyddyn nesaf, ond rwy'n dechrau gyda pob aelod o'r Cabinet, trafod faint o arian sydd gyda ni, trafod blaenoriaethau'r Llywodraeth, ac mae hynny yn cael ei roi i fewn i'r papur yr ydw i, fel Gweinidog dros gyllid, yn ei roi o flaen y Cabinet i gyd jest cyn, jest ar ôl, y Pasg. Mae hwnnw jest yn rhoi mas y manylion rym ni'n mynd i weithio i mewn yn y broses dros yr haf i gyd. Mae hynny'n bwydo i mewn i'r bilaterals arall ar ôl y Pasg pan fyddaf yn mynd drwy popeth gyda bob aelod Cabinet yn fanwl.
Yn y tîm sydd gen i, mae swyddogion ar ochr Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol (Cymru) 2015, a pobl hefyd sy'n gweithio ar yr impact assessments. Y flwyddyn yma, rŷm ni wedi cryfhau'r broses, achos pan fyddaf yn gwneud y bilaterals yna, rŷm ni'n mynd i gael—rŷm ni wedi cael—mwy o hyfforddiant i'r swyddogion ar draws y Llywodraeth sy'n gweithio ar y gyllideb. Yr un gyntaf oedd gweithdy gyda swyddogion o swyddfa comisiynydd llesiant cenedlaethau'r dyfodol, ac roedd hwnnw jest yn trio paratoi swyddogion yn well i gyfrannu at y gwaith rydym ni'n ei wneud yn y bilaterals a'r integrated assessments. Ym mis Gorffennaf, roeddem ni wedi paratoi tool newydd i'r swyddogion i'w helpu nhw i wneud y gwaith dros yr haf hefyd—a new integrated impact assessment tool. Gofynnwyd iddyn nhw baratoi hwnnw gyda help oddi wrth bobl y tu fas i'r Llywodraeth. Ym mis Gorffennaf, ar ôl y bliaterals, rwy'n mynd yn ôl at y Cabinet gyda'r papur arall, yr ail bapur yn y broses. Ac mae hwnnw yn dangos ble rŷm ni wedi cytuno ar bethau, a ble mae'r gwaith arall i'w wneud dros fis Awst. Pan fyddaf yn dod yn ôl ym mis Medi, mae mwy o bilaterals gyda rhai aelodau o'r Cabinet—nid pob un—ble mae pethau rydym ni'n dal i fod yn gweithio arnyn nhw. Rydym ni'n cael un cyfarfod arall ar y papur terfynol ar y gyllideb i gyd, ac rydw i'n rhoi hwnnw o flaen y Cabinet ganol fis Medi achos bydd yn rhaid inni gael amser i baratoi'r dogfennau ac yn y blaen pan fyddem ni'n rhoi'r gyllideb ddrafft o flaen y Cynulliad ar ddechrau mis Hydref.
So, dyna'r broses rŷm ni'n ei defnyddio. Dyna'r ffordd yr ŷm ni wedi cryfhau'r broses y tro yma: trio cael trafodaeth ym mhob ochr o'r broses gyda aelodau'r Cabinet a swyddogion ar y pethau y mae'r pwyllgorau y prynhawn yma eisiau canolbwyntio arno.
Chair, thank you very much. I will start in responding to that first question. May I start by just explaining the process that we use internally as we prepare the budget? So, the process starts before Easter every year. I have meetings with every Cabinet member, and that is just a starting point for the process. And, of course, the budget before us for the next financial year is the last one in the current period. We're expecting a comprehensive spending review in the next year. So, the budget for next year is the last one in that cycle, and the second year in terms of the budget that we put before the Assembly a year ago. So, there wasn't a huge number of changes, but I do start by speaking to all Cabinet members. I discuss how much money we have, what the priorities of Government are, and that feeds into the paper that I, as Cabinet Secretary for Finance, put before the entire Cabinet just before or after Easter. That just sets out the details that we will be working within in the process over the summer months. That, in turn, feeds into the further bilaterals after Easter when I go through everything with all Cabinet members in some detail.
In my team, I have officials working on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, as well as people who work on the impact assessments. This year, we have strengthened that process, because when I hold those bilaterals, we have given greater training to officials across Government, and I'm talking here, of course, of the officials working on the budget. The first was a workshop with officials from the office of the commissioner for the well-being of future generations, and that sought to prepare officials to better contribute to the work that we do in those bilaterals and the integrated impact assessments. In July, we had prepared a new tool for our officials to assist them with their work over the summer—a new integrated impact assessment tool. That was prepared with the assistance of people outwith Government. In July, following the bilaterals, I return to Cabinet with a further paper, the second in the process, and that sets out where we have reached agreement, and where there is further work to be done over August. And, when I return in September, there will be further bilaterals with some Cabinet members—not every one—where there are still issues to be worked through. I will have one further meeting at that point, and then there's a final paper on the budget as a whole, and I put that before Cabinet mid September, because we do need to time, of course, to prepare the documentation when we submit the draft budget and table it to the Assembly at the beginning of October.
So, that's the process that we've adopted, and that's how we've strengthened the process this time. We are trying to have discussions at all stages of the process with Cabinet members and officials on those issues that these committees this afternoon are focusing on.
Iawn. Ocê. Diolch i chi am y grynodeb yna. Jane.
Fine. Thank you for that summary. Jane.
Diolch. Just looking at this new integrated strategic impact assessment tool, how was it developed? We're aware that you looked—. Did you consult? Did you look at good practice elsewhere, internal, external—you said outwith the Government, but how—? And what practical impact do you think the new tool will have?
That's for me, I think. So, we engaged with a raft of organisations—the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the future generations commissioner, the children's commissioner, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Children in Wales, the NHS equalities network, for example. And, just by way of one example, the future generations commissioner's officials met with our senior officials to go through the overall approach, to comment on various drafts of the tool and guidance. We had a representative from Children in Wales, and the NHS equalities network, facilitated by Public Health Wales, involved from an early stage to develop the tool and guidance, and each network had a set of discussions themselves around where we were and provided feedback into the working group of officials who were developing the tool. So, it was an iterative process between the feedback from them to the officials, the officials doing a draft, it going back through the networks, and then coming back again. So, it went back and forth.
We also took insights from the Public Policy Institute for Wales report 'Improving Impact Assessments', which was especially commissioned to look at practice across other jurisdictions. The report looked at practice in Canada, the European Commission and Parliament, the State of Victoria in Australia. Here in the UK, it looked at Northern Ireland and Scotland alongside the Westminster models. And it concludes—. I don't know if the committee's had the chance to have a look at that, but the conclusion really is that it was very difficult to pick up any one model and put it down in somebody else's jurisdiction, because, for all sorts of reasons, there are other things at play. And so key threads were drawn out, and I'd just particularly like to draw the combined committee's attention to four of the ones that were key. So, they won't be any surprise to you, really; they're very common sense. So, impact assessments have to be integral to the policy-making process. There's no point in having them at the end, when you've done most of the policy development, and then it's kind of a hurdle to get through, or a tick-box if you wanted to be cynical about it, but a kind of barrier to implementing your policy; that clearly won't work. What you need to do is put, if you like, the germ of your policy idea through your impact assessment, and then develop your policy in accordance with the impact assessment's guidance, so that, at each stage, as you develop your policy, the impact of that policy is taken into account. And, then, clearly, you need to do an overarching one towards the end.
There's a need for a central facilitator, so that departments don't go off—sorry, I'm a recovering lawyer, so I start to use the legal phrases—on a frolic of their own and decide that a particular impact assessment has a particular outcome that's outwith the general view across the organisation. So, we had a central facilitator gatekeeper role for that to make sure that the cultural mores of the organisation are still included in that, if you like. And then—this is the one I think is most obvious, but actually turns out to be most difficult to achieve—that the interaction of the various impacts are taken into account; so, the economic impact assessment takes into account the impact for the disability impact assessment or the equality impact assessment, and the cumulative impacts are then looked at, so that the interaction of them is taken into account, rather than doing them in a hierarchical—in a queue, if you like. Because, obviously, in a queue, where you are in the queue might matter—if you're at the end, you might be looking at the cumulative impacts, but the one that goes first won't have that, and so on. So, the idea is to look at them in that integrated sort of way, and the importance, all the way through that, of stakeholder engagement, and the proportionality of the perceived piece of work that you're doing against the policy that you're attempting to implement. And that the policy—actually, I'm going to steal a working tool from my colleague Mark Drakeford here. He always puts it, 'You run a real thing through it.' So, once you've got the tool there, you think of a few real-life situations and you run them through the tool to see if they actually make some sense at the end of it to you; it doesn't come up with a skewed outcome that nobody would have expected. So, that end-to-end journey is a very important part.
And also, of course, we wanted to do that inside the unique framework here in Wales of the well-being of future generations Act. So, here we have a piece of legislation, unique in the world, and we don't want to be bolting things on elsewhere in the world that are designed to cover the same place as the well-being of future generations Act; we've got that groundbreaking piece of work, and we want to make sure that we use that, the framework for that, in the right way. And then the practical impact, I suppose, is hard—it's subjective, isn't it? So, it's very hard to look at. But what we want to do is we want to make the tool something that policy officials and Ministers, who are implementing them, feel is a practical tool, rather than a barrier to implementation—feel is a way of understanding their policy better, rather than a hurdle that they've got to go through, and that, actually, the outcome that we get feels better, is received better by the stakeholder groups, and works better in practice, comes through the scrutiny committees at the end of the policy process in a better place than it would have otherwise.
So, that's, I suppose, the ultimate aim: better decisions, better outcomes, better impact for your policy, not just—if I could just say this last bit—minimising the impact of your policy, but actually maximising the impact of your policy. So, an impact assessment isn't just, 'It isn't discriminating against a particular group'; it's also, 'Is it assisting particular groups, is it actually advancing the cause of equality or whatever?' So, it's not just minimising impact; you don't want to discriminate against anyone, but you also need to flip that—I've talked about flipping it quite a lot over the last few months, in Plenary—and look at, 'Are we actually actively promoting the cause of otherwise disadvantaged groups or individuals in our communities?' So, we're looking to have an integrated tool that manages to do that across the piece and is practical.
Thank you for that. Before we move away from the tool, I just want to raise with you something that the children's commissioner referred to earlier—I don't know whether you caught some of that evidence. But there seemed to have been some confusion as to which integrated assessment tool was being used, because, apparently, she had engagement with the Government, believing that it was a different tool to the one that the Government was using. I don't know whether you can give us a bit of clarity on that.
Well, there is only one tool.
That you use—yes.
The strategic impact assessments that come out of that tool are obviously things, and the tool is the mechanism by which the strategic impact assessment of a particular policy—in this case, presumably, the budget—is arrived at.
So, you don't recognise the confusion that the children's commissioner—
No, there isn't—. There is one tool, and it produces the strategic impact assessment of a particular policy—presumably, in this case, the budget.
Fine. Okay, thank you for that. John.
Yes. Leader of the house, in March of this year, the First Minister made an ambitious commitment to put gender at the forefront of all Welsh Government decision making. Are you content that the budget assessment lives up to that commitment?
Yes, in as far as we go. So, the whole point of the gender review was, obviously, to see where we were, and whether there was anything more we can do. And I think—I'm not trying to be trite in saying this—it's quite clear we don't have gender equality in the world, and therefore it's clear that we have more to do. So, the idea that, you know—. So, that's clearly the driver for that. I'm confident that, in the process as far as we have got, the integrated impact assessment has done its job in the budget, but I'm also confident that we could do better and more and that the earlier we integrate that into the whole—. Mark outlined the long, involved planning process that's gone through. The earlier we can get those impact assessments understood and integrated into the process, and it’s relatively early days for all of this—it’s only a year or so into its—. But I’m confident that by the time we’ve been doing that for some iterative periods of time, then we will see some of that driving through some of those changes.
There are other things that we can do. I’m looking forward to the second stage report of the gender review, because one of the things they’re specifically looking at is impact on budgets. Where budgets sit is a very important part in what you can do in order to drive any kind of policy, and if the policy in this instance is gender equality, then I’m also keen to use this across the Government and not just for budgets, but across different decisions.
So, to use one that I’m very keen on at the moment: to take any investment that we currently do in the Welsh Government—and you can choose any one you like; it doesn’t matter what it is—and put what we think the economic impact of that investment is against what would happen if we paid women for all of the unpaid work that they currently do in the economy and what impact that might have on the economy. I’d love to see a comparison of those two things. We haven’t yet done that, and I think the second stage of the gender review is going to push us into doing exactly that kind of thing.
I don’t think it’s telling any tales out of school to tell you that we all have a set of decisions on our table and that you sometimes think, ‘Why are we doing this, when I’m doing this over here?’ So, we need a tool across the Government that will allow you to raise those issues to the top, if you like, and say, ‘They’re all important, but do we understand the relative impacts of them? Does this impact assessment tool allow us to get to a point where we’re comparing vaguely like for like in impact terms?' Because the problem is that you’re often comparing two things that are wildly different and so trying to get a platform on which you can usefully compare them is difficult. So, there’s a long way to go, but I think what we’ve done so far has been a very good step in the right direction.
Okay. A further question from me: local authority spending is very important as to whether or not Welsh Government will achieve its equality and well-being objectives. So, in terms of the process for impact assessment, could you tell us what role or the way that you engage local authorities in that process?
I think that’s probably for me then, Chair. So, I think it’s important just to say that local authorities get money essentially from three sources: there’s the money they raise themselves through council tax and business rates and charges and so on. So, we don’t have any role to play in impact assessments there because that’s money that they themselves are responsible for. The bulk of the money that local authorities get from the Welsh Government goes in the unhypothecated revenue support grant, and some of you will know the complex process that goes into that through the finance sub-group and so on, but, again, there aren’t impact assessments that we carry out jointly with local authorities there, because how they spend that money is in their hands, and they have obligations, obviously, under the Equality Act and in setting their own well-being goals and the way that they discharge things in our public services boards and so on. The impacts, really, fall to them to work out when they are making those spending decisions.
When we fund through specific grants, then we carry out an integrated impact assessment, because now we are not just providing money, but we are determining the objective for which that money is to be spent. During this budget round, we have spent more time focusing on the way in which those assessments are carried out when we are giving money to local authorities in that way across the Government and, indeed, across the scrutiny process of the budget last year. There were comments made by different committees about the quality of some of the impact assessments that were carried out last year in relation to specific grants to local authorities. I was very keen that we should do a better job of that this year. There are a relatively small amount of new specific grants going into the local government side of the budget this time and I hope that, when Members have a chance to look at those as part the work that the individual committees do, you will see that more time has been spent, more effort has been made and there is greater conformity with the process that Julie set out in terms of making sure that we are assessing the impact as the policy develops, rather than at the end of it. I believe a better job has been done this year. I look forward to seeing what committees have to say when they have a chance to look at it.
Okay, thank you. Lynne.
Thanks, Chair. What are the challenges to integrating the various legislative requirements of the well-being of future generations Act, the public sector equality duty and the children's rights Measure?
Well, 'quite considerable' is the short answer. In fact, they're so considerable—actually, if I could add just one more layer of complexity, and that's the general UN conventions on the rights of various groups of people with protected characteristics. You'll know that we've had a legislative proposal—I'm not quite sure what the language for that is, but, anyway, a proposal from Helen Mary Jones around the incorporation of the UN convention on the rights of disabled people, for example. As a result of that, and a meeting that she attended with the future generations commissioner and a series of officials from across the Government and so on, we are looking to see what the best way is of implementing all of the ranges of duties and protections that are envisaged in that, inside, as I said, the well-being of future generations Act. Because, bear in mind, that's a unique piece of legislation to Wales. I'm often told, 'Why don't you implement the socioeconomic duty? They've done it in Scotland', and I say, 'Well, Scotland doesn't have the well-being of future generations Act.' So, I've commissioned a piece of research to be done to look at the best way of incorporating all of the protections and benefits of each of those sets of things into the legislation of Wales, in a unique way for Wales, and how the best way to do that is. So, is the best way to do some kind of amendment to the well-being of future generations Act, or to implement the duty, or to incorporate all the conventions, or all three of those, or to do something else that spans them, or what? Because I think that the language is subtly different in each of them. There's a problem with layering because of the way that you interpret the laws in England and Wales, in that the most recent has the most weight. So, you might inadvertently undermine an earlier Act by putting a new duty in that perhaps isn't as strongly worded as the one in an earlier Act. So, for example, if you now implement the socioeconomic duty, is that duty weakening the future generations Act, or is it adding to it, or is it cumulative and so on? I'm aware I'm talking to some lawyers in the room. The interpretation of that is a really important thing. So, we've commissioned a piece of research to give us the best advice on how to do it. I think we're all clear about where we're trying to go, but what is the best route to that is a very complex matter. So, as a result of that conversation with the future generations commissioner, the children's commissioner, and other people, we're going to see if we can find a way that makes everybody happy that we've got the best implementation in Wales.
When will that piece of work be available?
It's been commissioned and I hope it won't be that long. I've asked them to scope it. When the scope comes back, I'll have an idea from them how long it will take. I've asked them to do the piece of work and to tell me how long and for what resource they'll be able to do it. As soon as I have that information, I'll be more than happy to share it.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Nick Ramsay.
Diolch. What's the purpose of the meeting in November 2018 on the integrated impact assessments? Does it relate to the budget or to all impact assessments?
Is that the meeting with the future generations commissioner's advisory panel? Is that the meeting you've got in mind?
Okay. So, that's to provide an opportunity for all the commissioners to discuss all the opportunities and challenges of the integrated impact assessments collectively, on the tool. So, how is the tool working and what's it going to—? Actually, Chair, I've got a diagram, which I personally find very helpful in understanding the tool. I don't know if you've seen it. Are you happy for me to pass it around? If we pass it up, take one and pass it on. Make sure I've got one. [Laughter.] We'll wait until everybody's got sight of that. Can we have one back down here? We've carefully neglected to give ourselves a copy each. It's all in the forward planning. [Laughter.]
So, the purpose is that, as I said, this is an iterative process. We're very keen to keep going and make sure that we've got the best out of the tool that we can get, not just in the design of the tool itself and what it includes but the whens and whatevers, the dos and don'ts, run the real-life examples through and see whether you get what you consider to be nonsense out the other end or something that's useful and so on. So, the purpose of the meeting is to provide all the commissioners an opportunity to discuss together, if you like, and not separately, again, the combined impact—so, following the spirit of what we're trying to do, a combination of the impacts for the tool.
Okay, thank you. Jayne.
I'm not going to follow up. [Laughter.]
I mean, if the committee does have any questions off the back of the piece of paper, I'm obviously happy to answer them afterwards, but I personally found it a very helpful diagramatic illustration of what we were trying to do and how the jigsaw fits together. We shared it with the budget advisory committee on equalities as well.
Okay, thank you. Jayne.
Thank you, Chair. Leader of the house, you mentioned about using the framework of the future generations commissioner and Act in the right way, and you touched a little bit on this in your response to Lynne Neagle, but how would you respond to the conclusion of the gender review that there is a risk that the well-being of future generations Act duties are supplanting the public sector equality duties?
Yes, I think that's very much in the space that we were just discussing. The gender review is interesting, because it's a snapshot in time gleaned from a set of interviews across the Government of officials in various places and various Ministers. So, it obviously didn't interview everyone, and one of the issues in the second stage is to get a different group of people and get their views and so on, because we wanted a snapshot. When you see the response from us you'll see I've deliberately not done it as the sort of response we do for a committee where we say 'accept' or 'accept in principle' or whatever, because it isn't an exercise in us saying, 'Oh, look, you've got that wrong, we do do that, you say we don't.' It shows you what we look like from the outside. So, the fact that we think we do it clearly wasn't visible when they did the review. So, I've said, 'Well, okay, we do do this but they couldn't see it.' So, the question is not for us to come back saying, 'Our response to this is the Government does this splendidly and here it is', it's 'Why couldn't you see that we did that? Why didn't those officials understand it?' And what came across from that was that there is a confusion and it's this layering.
So, you've got the well-being of future generations Act. That says some stuff about socioeconomic principles and well-being and so on. You've got the equality duty. That says some stuff. The Government of Wales Act 2006 says some stuff. If we implement the socioeconomic duty it says—. They're all subtly different. So, for the poor official who's trying to answer the question 'How does this mesh together?'—that's quite a task, it seems to me. That has led us—it wasn't just the meeting that I mentioned earlier—but that whole process has led us to say, 'No, this is a thing, this is an issue.' So, we all know where we are trying to go. We're trying to get the best implementation of these duties. How to do that is the next bit. So, that's what the piece of research we're having scoped and done is. So, I'm hoping that that quest is driven partly by the review, partly by the conversation with the commissioners and partly by Assembly Members who want us to incorporate conventions into doing, what I hope, will be a really good piece of work for Wales that allows us to put a single seamless piece in there so that people are not confused about what it is they're actually trying to implement. I think they can tell you that they're trying to implement equality, but you obviously need to delve a bit deeper into that before you get a decent answer.
Perhaps, I could just add—
I think it comes on automatically.
Right. In scoping the bit of work the Ministers have asked us to do, we are talking to the people who are actively involved in the gender review to try and join those bits of work up. We're at early stages of discussions, so we can't quite answer the question you're asking about how long it's going to take, but we're very clear that we need to get the detailed work that's been done on the gender review sitting right alongside this work on how any other action would relate to the future generations Act, to make it a seamless whole.
And just to add to that as well, the commissioners have themselves got together and done some work where two of the commissioners have tried to—. So, I think the children's commissioner and the future generations commissioner have done a piece of work on how they integrate, but it's a bigger piece than that. We just need this jigsaw to come together and make the picture we want it to make.
Yes, and that takes me to my question, really, because it's about the breadth and the depth, isn't it? That's a huge issue, really. Is it possible to comprehensively assess an entire budget's impact on equalities and human rights, children's rights, the Welsh language, climate change, rural-proofing, health, biodiversity, economic development, and, of course, capture that in 23 pages? [Laughter.]
That's a combination of the two of us. Do you want to go first?
Obviously, it is a genuine challenge to capture all of that within a document that is readable and accessible. In the days when I was inflicted upon students and we used to try and teach them about essay writing, I used occasionally to quote Oscar Wilde who said, 'If I'd had more time, I'd have written less.' By which he meant that the real challenge is to try and summarise in a way that really captures what you want to say. It's the easiest thing in Government, I can tell you that—if the committee would rather 123 pages, we could supply you with those without any difficulty. The challenge is trying to capture the essence of things and to provide information in a way that people have a fighting chance of being able to read and to draw something from it.
It is genuinely difficult getting everything down into a document that is of that sort. This year, following the advice of the Finance Committee, we provided two levels of impact assessment. We provided one alongside the draft budget and last year, the Finance Committee recommended that we should provide another one alongside the detailed budget three weeks later, so we've done that. So, we've tried to provide additional information in that way.
In the end, proportionality is the test we try and apply to it all—trying to make sure that where there are big, new decisions being taken, we foreground those in the document. And as I said in the beginning, this was a budget when there wasn't a lot like that, because this is the final budget in a sequence and the second of two years that the Assembly has already scrutinised in this cycle last year. So, we tried to put the main effort into putting information in there that explains how we've come to those bigger decisions, and where there are smaller decisions that are simply implementing decisions that committees have already had a chance to scrutinise, then we try and push those back into the background of it. Doing that, that's how we came out with the document that we have this year.
Could I perhaps just add a point to that? Generally the focus in a budget is on marginal changes to programmes or to areas of activity, rather than introducing fundamentally new initiatives. So, what we try and do in a budget impact assessment piece of work is to look at those marginal changes, not necessarily going all the way back to first principles. Most of those programmes have been through a very long development process to get to where they are, and what you're doing in a budget is increasing or reducing the funding for those programmes. Again, that's another kind of tricky judgment to make in focusing purely on the marginal change. Can you do that in a way that's meaningful and accessible without having to explain all the way, right back, as to what the basic purpose of the programme is and what work you did, often five or 10 years ago, in developing that in the first place?
Okay. Thank you. Lynne.
Thank you. The children's commissioner has told us that she believes the use of the strategic integrated impact assessment has weakened the position on children's rights being actively considered as part of decision-making processes. How do you respond to that?
Well, first of all, that's one of the reasons that we're having the meeting with all of the commissioners to discuss it, so it's an iterative process and we take that very seriously. But I would say that what we're trying to do is the exact opposite of that. What we're trying to look at is cumulative impact. So, we don't just look at children's rights in and of themselves; we look at decisions on how we did budgets in other areas and how they might impact across the piece. So, the whole point, as I said, of the strategic, aligned impact assessment is that you get the impact from all over the budget. So, it's perfectly possible—.
I'm going to take this completely at random, so it's totally random. If you were to look at the impact on children's rights of the inward investment decisions, for example, I bet you anything that if we were doing those as single things that wouldn't happen, because why would that portfolio think about children's rights? It's not front and centre of what they're doing. But as part of this, they would, because it would become part of the integrated assessment.
As I said to you, we have sometimes a decision over here and a decision over here, and we have to have a way of making them comparable and making us understand what the impacts are. So, it's easy at one level to say, 'I've decided to spend money on a blue jacket over here and therefore I can't afford the red jacket over there', but you know it's more complex than that. Part of the decision by which you came to that spending decision will have an impact. So, the whole point of that integrated assessment is to do just that.
We've got the rights enshrined in Welsh law, we're looking to see how we can further embed some of the UN declarations—not just have regard, but have them actually integrated into Welsh law in that way. And it comes back to the conversation I was having—I can't remember, in answer to Jayne Bryant, was it—about how we're trying to look to see how we get this jigsaw to fit together so that you get a better whole, a better picture, as a result of it.
But I'm very concerned that she thinks that, and I'm very pleased that we're having a meeting so that we get a picture from the commissioners from across the piste, because I absolutely—. We haven't got to the end of this process by a long way, and it's iterative, so we'll be very much taking into account any feedback from the commissioner where she thinks there has been some lessening, but I can assure you that's very much not what we think we're doing.
I do think we're all just human beings doing our day job in the end. You've got to make sure that people do have some mechanism by which, daily, they look to see whether they're working in a particular way. So, the five ways of working under the well-being of future generations Act, for example, are very much designed to make people continue to think in that way. But even that Act isn't that old. It takes a while to get the culture change into it.
I can say, easily, to you that children's rights are front and centre of the Welsh Government—they certainly are, all equalities are—but we need to make this absolutely right, and I want the commissioners to be very happy that what we're doing does deliver that. So, we'll helpfully come back to the committee with the outcome of that meeting. I'm sure there will be others, and this is a developing and iterative process.
Again, perhaps I could add something from officials' point of view about the process of developing the integrated impact assessment. Because, in developing that, we've brought officials together from all the different areas with responsibility for the different aspects of impact assessment. And, as Anthony who had responsibility for trying to corral us all I think will testify, there were real concerns and passionate concerns about protecting every aspect, not least— bringing from the equalities point of view myself—those of us with a statutory responsibility to make absolutely sure that in developing an integrated tool, we weren't losing the fundamental essentials of each aspect. The same would be true around Welsh language, around children's rights, certainly, but also about environmental, and every aspect. Those were, and still are, in the process of making sure that, in developing the integrated impact assessment, we all recognise that, actually, bringing it together makes good sense, for the reasons the Minister has said—that doing it all separately means we end up doing it rather less well than we should, or not doing it at all in some cases, and that an integrated approach is a much better approach in principle. We're all slightly tempted in meeting after meeting to say, 'We recognise the integrated element, but it's really important that the equality bit stands out first, or the Welsh language stands out first.' So, that discussion goes on, but I think we have not lost sight of any of the key elements in bringing together the integrated approach.
Thank you. Jane.
The challenge of breaking down those silos or—[Inaudible.]—them, which is positive, but integrating is really important. But has the Welsh Government or another Government considered commissioning an independent body to undertake budget impact assessments?
Well, Chair, I think I would be opposed to doing that for some of the reasons that you've heard already. If you were to bring in an independent body to assess the impact of budget decisions, inevitably, they would only be able to do that after the decisions had been made. And as Julie has set out earlier, our ambition is that people should be thinking of the impact of the ideas they are developing from the very beginning of developing them. It shouldn't be something that you do after you've made the decision, and then you try and assess the impact of it.
So, if you're bringing people in from outside, I think it will undermine all the efforts that we have been making. I described some of them in my first answer—the workshops that we had during this budget process to make sure that our officials were as well informed as they could be about the things that the well-being of future generations Act commissioner said she was looking at during this part of the budget cycle. If they thought that was nothing to do with them, and that was going to be done by someone at the very end of it all, I think that would actually militate against our ambition to make this a genuinely integral part of the way that policy is developed.
I think when the process settles down, whether there comes a point at which it would be useful to have somebody independent to come and look at the whole process, at the way we are doing it, and to see whether there are ways in which we could improve it, I think that would be a different matter, and I think that's something I could see some advantages in getting an outside view of the way we do it. But just having somebody come in at the end and do the budget impact assessment for us, instead of us being responsible for it ourselves, I think would actually take us backwards rather than forwards.
I think it might be useful to make a distinction between the scrutiny and challenge of the work that the Welsh Government does and the work that's properly for the Welsh Government to do. I think independence and external expertise is incredibly valuable for that challenge and assurance, kind of, advice that the committees need to get on whether this is good quality or how it can be improved. But, yes, there's a job that we need to do to do the best possible work we can on impact assessment, to inform decisions that Ministers make.
Also, Chair, if I could say—. I mean, this is early days for some of this. We haven't yet seen what effect the role of the committees and the scrutiny of the process will have, so if we were going to go down that route, I would personally want to have seen a few cycles go through while we made sure that the interaction between the Government and its scrutiny committees, and the interaction between the commissioners and ourselves and all the rest of it had bedded in, and then, as Mark said, to look to see how we've done that afterwards, rather than to get somebody in now to say, 'What's the impact on a middle-income family in Powys of this decision?', because I don't think that would actually add very much to what we know about the process.
And the innovation of our meeting this afternoon will contribute to that, as well. Suzy.
Do you mind if I start with a point of clarification, Chair? It's about the integration tool itself. I'm not clear how the tool itself was developed, and whether you had any input or advice from people like the children's commissioner, for example.
Yes, so, as I said at the beginning, we consulted with a whole range of organisations and people. We had steering groups and focus groups, and their groups fed into our group, and our group went back to them with what we thought, and so on. So, it was very iterative and interactive.
Yes, the specific tool, I meant—
Yes, yes, that's how we developed the tool. That's not the assessment itself.
That's great. Thank you. It's just looking at it, the future generations Act seems to be the primary legislative driver in it, rather than perhaps some other bits of legislation.
Just moving on now, to the question. I think the concern of the children's commissioner wasn't so much that the integrated assessment didn't consider children's rights and things, but it was difficult to tell how that observance of children's rights had been evidenced in coming to the conclusions that were in the impact assessment. So, first of all, I'd like to know a little bit about how the observance of due regard for children's rights was specifically evidenced in the impact assessment, and then, separately, what external expertise you might have taken to help inform you with the impact assessment in how to involve children, to get their views. Because it's a very complex process and just asking four-year-olds, 'What do you think?' is not going to work. So, did you get external advice to help you get that meaningful input?
No. Using the tool, we've gone through the process, and as I said, we're going to be talking to the commissioners because we don't want them to be unhappy and we want them to understand the interaction. I want the children's commissioner to be happy with where we get to, so I'm not saying this in any confrontational sense, but it is a new process, so I'm sure that what we need is some dialogue between the two of us about where and how you might look to see that the children's rights are enshrined in this new process. And I do think there is a little bit of—. You know, all conversations are like this, 'We're going to do this thing in a new way,' and everybody thinks that's a good thing, but they want their bit to be particularly protected. So, I'm just a little bit concerned that that's what we're looking at, and I don't say that in any disrespectful way at all. I think the meeting in November to discuss this will draw some of this out, but I can assure you that we've been through the process and children's rights have been at the front and centre of that, because they are enshrined in the law, and we very much wanted to do that, but it is about a proportionate impact across the whole piece.
Yes, I think it was a little bit more 'show us your workings', so maybe in the disappearance of 123 pages and reduction to 23 pages, that might just have become a little bit less apparent.
Well, I think in the meeting in November, we'll go through all of that, and, if more information to the children's commissioner will assist, we're more than happy to provide it.
I think it's much more to do with a change in culture and the way that we're presenting it, and I hope that meeting will move it forward, because I think all the commissioners together need to discuss that and how this works and we need to get that feedback. And if there are concerns coming out of that meeting that continue to be, then we will address them. Certainly, in no way is it the point of this to leave one of our commissioners feeling that their bit is somehow downgraded. That most certainly is not the outcome that we want, and we will be very diligent in ensuring that that isn't the outcome. We want to understand that and we want to make sure that it fits nicely in, and if, as you say, it is a kind of, 'Give reasons for your answer', then I'm sure that we'll be happy to do that. As Mark said, it's never a problem to give people more information.
It's not a huge encouragement to do that, mind. [Laughter.] Okay, thank you.
Thank you. Leanne.
Can you tell us what specific input the budget advisory group for equality has had this year and what the outcomes were of its review?
Well, thank you, Leanne, for that. It just allows me to very briefly to say more generally, thinking of Suzy's question, the other way in which I, as the person responsible for the budget process, get advice from outside the Welsh Government on these matters is generally through the third sector. So, I have a lot of engagement with the third sector as part of the process. I have two meetings with them specifically around the budget where there are organisations representing a whole variety of groups who have an interest in the budget. Children in Wales are always there representing children's views, for example. Those meetings are chaired by the voluntary sector; it's their meeting, and it's their opportunity to make sure that they get a chance to tell me the things that they think are most important in the budget from the perspective of the different groups that are there. So, that's an important part of the process for me, as well as everything I described internally. It's making sure that we get those views from outside as the process goes on and the budget advisory group on equality—the 'BAGE', as it's called—is a particular subset of that, established, I think, by Jane, when she was the Finance Minister.
So, I've met that group, with Julie, twice. The first time I met them as part of this cycle was at the very end of the last budget-making process. So, I met them at the very end of September last year. That was when Carl Sargeant was responsible for equalities. I met with Carl and the group, and that was to review the process that we had just gone through to see whether they felt they had information that was useful to them for them to see where they'd felt they'd had an impact on the decisions that had been made and to think how they could have more of an impact in this latest round. Interestingly, one of the things that they said was later echoed in the report of the Finance Committee, which was about providing impact assessments at the two stages of our new process.
So, then I met them again at the start of this budget process in March, and then I met them again in July. In March, we talked a lot about the integrated approach to impact assessments. That was one of the major issues on the agenda. And some of the discussion that we've had here, some of the points that Lynne made earlier, were very much reflected in that conversation. Everybody is in favour of an integrated impact assessment. Everybody is anxious that the particular strand in equalities that they are most associated with might get lost in the integration. So, that tension between wanting to bring everything together but not wanting to lose particular strands was very much part of the debate we had that day. They went away with a series of things that they were going to do—collecting information, getting views from other people. Particularly, in that first meeting in March, there was a particular feeling amongst some groups that we ought to have had a separate strand on gender implications of the budget this time. They went away to see whether that was shared amongst other groups that they represented at the BAGE. When we came back in July, I think there was a feeling that the gender review was the better place to take forward some of those debates rather than a separate strand in this year's budget.
Has intersectionality been a part of this discussion?
Yes. Yes, very much. It's very much what people want to talk about, and it ought to be one of the strengths of an integrated assessment approach—
The children's commissioner said she was concerned—sorry, it wasn't the children's commissioner, it was the equality commission that said that they were concerned that intersectionality wasn't being assessed properly and deeply enough.
Well, I'm very interested to read what was said by them. I'm very interested to hear what the committee has to say on that. I think that an integrated assessment approach ought to allow intersectionality to be on the surface of things, because that's what it should be about, isn't it? It's where impacts of different sorts come together. It's not easy to do, is it? It's sort of easy to say and quite hard to do. If the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has got expertise of its own in this field, has got advice for us as to how we could do that better, that would be a very useful part of following the debate in this committee.
If I could just add one thing to that, intersectionality has been very much a driver for some of the integrated impact assessments, but it is about the culture. So, it is about not just the parts of the organisation that are used to looking at equality impact assessments. I chose inward investment. To be fair, the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for that isn't sitting here and I'm speaking from ignorance; I just chose it randomly. But it is the case that people who are not normally involved in those kinds of rights-based—don't have them necessarily at the front of their minds. So, actually having an integrated impact assessment across the piece pulls in bits of the Government where hitherto, perhaps, that hasn't been as central to them as it might have been.
The equalities team does its best. It's a small team sitting at the centre, and what we're trying to do is push a culture out, like a sort of bow wave, out across the Government to say, 'You have to think about this in the round, in your policy making, across the Government, and then you have to build it together.' And in a sense, the budget is both a start point and the end point of that, so this end-to-end journey. So, again, it's easy to say, and it will take many iterations to get people into the habit of working, and it's a bit like the future generations Act and the five ways of working: it's easy for me to just spiel it off like that, but it means that, when you come back to your day job and you try to clear the enormous amount of stuff on your desk, you are thinking about some of the wider impacts of that and not just the one thing that you're dealing with. All of us do that. We're a bit rushed and we start to clear stuff. What we want is to give people the ability to sit back a little bit sometimes and think, 'Well, actually, I've also got to do this integrated impact assessment, so I've got to think about not filling it in at the end but actually how this piece of work I'm doing will build into that. And that—you know, we can't do that on the first iteration. It will take people a while to get used to the way that that might work, and we're very interested to know what the commissioners think about that and again as it goes through the cycle.
I personally think it's a really good way of doing it, but it is early doors, you know, so we'll see. The intersectionality has very much been front and centre of that.
Thank you, Chair. I wonder if you could tell us how the Government is learning from other countries' approaches to equality and children's rights in the budget process. I'm thinking of, for example, the Scottish Government and Iceland's gender budgeting process.
Iceland's particularly interesting, isn't it? One of the interesting things about some of the research that goes alongside the gender review—I don't know if you've all had a chance to read that, but the gender review has a front section and then it has a piece of research at the back, and that goes through a number of different countries' approaches to things and the differences that those produce.
Iceland went about coping with its banking crisis in a rather different way to the rest of the developed world, and it's gone about its gender process in exactly that way, and it's that flip, isn't it? Instead of thinking, 'Does this policy discriminate against any people with protected characteristics or any other groups of people that we're particularly looking to protect in our society?' It flips it and it says, 'We accept that there is a large range of groups of people'—intersectionality being particularly prominent there, so if you're in a large number of protected groups you are disadvantaged—'so does this policy do anything to level the playing field for you?' You get a very different result if you ask those two questions in that way. So, we've been very keen to look at Iceland. It's no surprise to the committee, I'm sure, that the Nordic and Scandinavian countries are streets ahead here because all their equality indexes are better and have been for many years. It has taken them many years to get there.
In Scotland, they've done some different things, but they don't have the well-being of future generations Act. They have implemented the socioeconomic duty, and that's part of—harking back to my research: we want to see what it looks like for Wales. But, yes, absolutely, we have done that, and we're very, very interested to look at any examples from across the globe that the committee has come across. When I was talking earlier about the way that we'd looked at the integrated impact assessments, I talked about different jurisdictions and us kind of cherry-picking—I didn't use that language—but cherry-picking some of the best strands out of it, and we've done that. If the committee wants to recommend anywhere else that we should look at, I'm more than happy to look at that, but we're very keen to learn from the best examples and to understand how they fit with our Welsh perspective and some of our unique things. So, we have the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015—very unique in the world—but everything can be improved. How would that interact with some of these specific gender interactions around the budget, but, actually, around just policy making in general? So, yes, Iceland is a particularly interesting example.
Excellent. And finally, Nick Ramsay.
Thanks, Chair. I think this question has largely been covered, but just in case you want to add anything: what improvements does the Welsh Government intend to make to the budget impact assessment process in the coming year?
Thank you, Chair. I started this afternoon saying that this budget in front of the committee is the tail end of a cycle. And, of course, next year's budget will be the first budget of a new cycle, assuming that we get the results of the comprehensive spending review in time for us to be able to plan in that way. Now, if we do, then I would expect us to be having a different approach to an integrated assessment next year because it will be setting the parameters for, conventionally, a CSR of the next three years. I think that means that it will be a different document to one that is reporting just on relatively incremental changes to a budget that the committee has already seen in previous years. So, that's one way in which this will be different.
We'll have phase 2 of the gender review available to us; that ought to make an impact. The integrated impact assessment tool that I told you had been launched in July will be refined as a result of the experience we've had in this year. So, hopefully, that will be an even more effective tool for next year. And we will have the results of the scrutiny sessions that all the committees, including this special session, will produce as part of this budget round. I'm genuinely anxious, and I will be again. I think we learn a lot from the things the committees tell us about the way the budget has worked in a particular year. We've tried to use the advice of committees, particularly the Finance Committee, in the way we've gone about the budget this year, and I have no doubt there will be recommendations and lessons that we'll take from that.
The Finance Committee's work, particularly—there's that whole piece of work the Finance Committee is doing on the way in which we take budgets through the Assembly in future, given our new fiscal responsibilities. Maybe that will not come to fruition for next year, but it does form a backcloth to the way in which we'll go about the budget impact process next year as well.
Excellent. Can I thank the Cabinet Secretary and the leader of the house, and your officials, for being with us this afternoon and for giving of your time to allow us to have this scrutiny session? I think we've heard a number of references to the culture change; it's culture change in progress, I suppose, isn't it? And members of the Finance Committee heard this morning from the future generations commissioner about the journey tracker tool that she has. Well, it's very much the kind of thing that we do, I think, as well. But not only will we be tracking the Government's journey, but I suppose we're part of that journey as well in the way that we support and scrutinise that process.
Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd am fod gyda ni.
Thank you all very much for joining us.
bod y pwyllgorau yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committees resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
The committee will now move into private session so that we can consider the evidence that we've taken this afternoon. So, I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi), that the committees resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting. Are Members content? Yes. Diolch yn fawr iawn. We'll move into private, then.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 15:19.
The public part of the meeting ended at 15:19.