Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Y Pwyllgor Cyfrifon Cyhoeddus

Public Accounts Committee

11/11/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Adam Price AC
Gareth Bennett AC
Mohammad Asghar AC
Nick Ramsay AC Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Vikki Howells AC

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Adrian Crompton Archwilydd Cyffredinol Cymru
Auditor General for Wales
David Richards Cyfarwyddwr Moeseg a Llywodraethu, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director of Governance and Ethics, Welsh Government
Matthew Mortlock Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru
Wales Audit Office
Mike Usher Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru
Wales Audit Office
Natalie Pearson Pennaeth Ymgysylltu a Datblygu Sefydliadol, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Organisational Development and Engagement, Welsh Government
Peter Kennedy Cyfarwyddwr Adnoddau Dynol, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director of Human Resources, Welsh Government
Shan Morgan Ysgrifennydd Parhaol Llywodraeth Cymru
Permanent Secretary, Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Claire Griffiths Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Fay Bowen Clerc
Clerk
Joanne McCarthy Ymchwilydd
Researcher

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.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:05.

The meeting began at 13:05.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Welcome, Members, to this afternoon's meeting of the Public Accounts Committee. Headsets are available, as usual, for translation and sound amplification. Please turn off any phones. In an emergency, follow the ushers. We've received two apologies today, from Jenny Rathbone and from Rhianon Passmore, and no substitutions. Do Members want to make any declarations of interest at the start of the meeting? No.

2. Papurau i'w nodi
2. Papers to note

Item 2, and a couple of papers to note. A letter from the Welsh Government: Welsh Government have responded to my letter of 1 October, in which I sought clarification on a number of issues. Auditor general, did you have any comments you wanted to make on that? No. Are Members happy to note that letter? And that information will be taken into account when we come to finalise our committee report.

3. Ffordd Liniaru yr M4: Trafod gohebiaeth gan Lywodraeth Cymru
3. M4 Relief Road: Consideration of correspondence from the Welsh Government

Item 3: the M4 relief road—consideration of correspondence from the Welsh Government. Following the evidence session with the Welsh Government on 15 July, I wrote to Andrew Slade asking for clarification on a number of issues. These have now been addressed in his comprehensive response, which is on pack page 9 in your file. He's been quite frank; a fair number of costings in there. Have Members had a chance to look at the response on the M4, and any comments you'd like to make?

I was interested, intrigued, by the costings, which we asked for in terms of whether any work had been done on scoping the cost of a tunnel under the Gwent levels, and that comes in in the region of £7 billion. But the bulk of the cost is the actual tunnel itself. That has been based on the costings for the tunnel that was built under Stonehenge. So, I'm not entirely sure, myself, whether there's a total crossover with those figures, so that might be something that we could pursue. But, anyway, Members, do you have anything you'd like to comment on?

If Members are content with that, I would suggest that we—. There is work being undertaken by the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee on this, in the wake of the report that's going to be commissioned by Lord Burns. So, I suspect that that committee is probably in a better place to look at this in the short term. So, I think we should keep a watching brief on that. Of course, we've got Vikki Howells, who's also on that committee, and Oscar, so if you'd like to follow through with that work on that committee, and then if there's anything else that we should pick up on, then we do that in due course.

Okay. Before we move to a break and bring our witnesses in, there was another item that I wanted to comment on, and I'd like to make a statement, actually, with regard to this.

Last week, there were numerous items in the press across the UK about the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and the appointment of an external expert employed to help the board, at a cost of almost £2,000 a day. The Public Accounts Committee was referred to in the response from the health board, which stated:

'Appointing a recovery director was a recommendation from the National Assembly's Public Accounts Committee, who called for more resources to be devoted to turnaround action, including bringing in additional specialist external turnaround expertise.'

Subsequently, during last week's National Assembly's Plenary proceedings, the First Minister also made reference to the committee's recommendations.

For the record, I'd like to state that as Chair of this cross-party committee, I welcome BCUHB's implementation of our recommendation in seeking external expertise to assist the health board in tackling a number of long-term complex issues. The spirit of the recommendation was intended to bring in external expertise because internal mechanisms to address turnaround had been ineffective. We did not specify the nature of that expertise or how the health board should approach this.

The committee would expect that the appointment of the external expert was subject to a robust and fair procurement process, including demonstration of value for money, including an assessment of the market rate for such an external experts.

The committee is keeping a watching brief over progress at Betsi Cadwaladr health board, and alongside monitoring general improvement at the board, the committee will continue to monitor how its recommendations have been implemented.

Do any other Members have any comments they'd like to make on that, following that statement? If not—auditor general.

I just reinforce what you said. Clearly, your recommendation was carefully worded. Whether and how it should be implemented is a matter for BCU and the Welsh Government to decide. I've already asked my audit team to take a look at the arrangements that BCU put in place when making this and a number of other interim senior staff appointments. And we'll take a look at the governance and procurement processes that were used and the steps that the board itself will take to demonstrate that that represents good value for money.

Given the committee's concerns, we'll try to do that, obviously, as rapidly as possible, but it's not all in our control, as, clearly, we'll need engagement from the health board and third parties as well, but we'll be able to report back to you with our findings as soon as we can.

13:10

No, I mean, I don't think it's anything to do with me, because I think this is something, possibly, that predates me being on the committee, I guess. But, I mean, the First Minister or other Ministers will sometimes try to hide behind decisions, proposals or recommendations that committees have made. But, of course, the committees make recommendations, but it's not up to committees as to what the working arrangements are of the people that are appointed, and, of course, the committee has no input into who's appointed, so it's just a political answer that the First Minister has given to try and hide behind what a committee has recommended. I don't think there's anything—it doesn't mean that the committee in any way endorses what arrangements the Welsh Government or health boards come up with.

Yes, you're quite right. It's within our remit to make recommendations, and external advice can be sought, but, of course, the bottom line with this committee is our pursuit of value for money. So, it's important, whatever those recommendations are, that the relevant bodies are keen to ensure that there is that value for money, so that would be something we would always expect in terms of procurement or anything else. So, I think that I made that clear in the statement. Any other comments? No, okay.

Our witnesses will be with us at 1.30 p.m., so I propose we take a short break until then—a 15-minute break.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 13:12 ac 13:15.

The meeting adjourned between 13:12 and 13:15.

13:15
4. Craffu ar Gyfrifon 2018-19: Llywodraeth Cymru
4. Scrutiny of Accounts 2018-19: Welsh Government

Can I welcome members of the committee back? Welcome to our witnesses as well. They're here for item 4, the ongoing scrutiny of accounts 2018-19 and our session with the Welsh Government. Would you like to give your name and position for the Record?

Shan Morgan, Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government.

Peter Kennedy, human resources director, Welsh Government.

David Richards, director of governance and ethics.

Hello, I'm Natalie Pearson, and I'm head of organisational development and engagement.

Good. Thanks for being with us. We've got a number of questions here, so I'll start off with the first few. Shan, who has responsibility for the civil service in Wales and how are decisions made in respect of changes to staffing or structures? A broad question.

The formal situation is that the First Minister has responsibility for the civil service in Wales, but he delegates all issues concerning staffing and structures of the civil service to me as Permanent Secretary. So, I take forward those responsibilities through the governance framework that I described in our last session, which is set out in the annual reports here. Obviously, we're very clear that we're here to serve the First Minister and his Cabinet, and I consult with him and them on a very regular basis about their priorities, and particularly about strategic decisions on the running of the organisation or any issues concerning staffing at all.

I think I've said before, but perhaps it would be helpful to say again, I have three roles as Permanent Secretary: first, principal accounting officer; second, as senior policy adviser to the First Minister; and third, as the head of the civil service, or, if you like, the chief executive of the civil service of the Welsh Government.

Thanks, Shan. In terms of the responsibilities of the civil service here in Wales, are all matters within the control here, and delegated, or are there areas where it's not permitted for you to depart from the policies and procedures of the UK civil service as a whole? 

There's a framework—. We're all members of the UK civil service. That provides the framework for the terms and conditions and standards and codes of behaviour of all of us in the civil service. Then, the terms and conditions and, essentially, pay of service for staff below the senior civil service of the Welsh Government, those are delegated to the First Minister, who, as I said, delegates them to me as Permanent Secretary. Terms and conditions and, notably, pay for the senior civil service—all of us here are from the senior civil service—in the UK, Scottish and Welsh civil services are the responsibility of Cabinet Office in the UK. We've made some flexibilities where we think a different approach is right for Wales, so, as I think I said in the first session, we don't implement bonus payments for our staff here. We think that's a very divisive approach to pay, so we have the possibility of doing that differently. But there are many, if you like, overarching issues that are mandated across the whole of the UK civil service, including in Wales. Those are set out in the civil service management code, and I'd be very happy to send you a copy of that. It includes things like processes for recruitment, initial probation, equal opportunities, health and safety, conduct and discipline—those kinds of core issues that are the same across the whole of the UK civil service, of which we form a part.

With regard to the relationship with the First Minister here and the Cabinet Office, are there any tensions that have arisen between your accountability to the First Minister and to the Cabinet Office? Can you think of any instances where there's been a conflict, almost, or does it all work pretty much like clockwork?

It works, in practice. I have not experienced any difficulties. I'm very clear, as I said, that my role is to support the First Minister and his Government. The head of the UK civil service, Mark Sedwill, understands that very clearly, as do the other permanent secretaries for UK Government departments. We're all professional civil servants. We understand the role of civil servants. We understand that we serve different Governments or departments whilst preserving, very importantly, our political impartiality. I think there are real advantages for Wales in that, and I'm conscious that I'm a voice for Wales, if you like, at the highest levels of Whitehall. Across the whole organisation, obviously, there are very frequent and regular contacts between officials and, indeed, at ministerial level. I attend the weekly meeting of permanent secretaries in London. That enables me to find out key developments across the whole of the UK and to feed in Welsh views on those developments. I try and attend all the main UK civil service corporate events. In fact, I'm going to one on Friday, so I would say I'm very well plugged in to UK civil service issues, structures and events whilst being very clear that my role is to serve our First Minister and the Government. I think that's worked particularly well in preparations for the possibility of a 'no deal' Brexit. We've been able to work together very closely and I certainly feel that we have been included very directly in those discussions at official level whilst understanding that our Governments have different positions. Of course, my counterpart in Scotland is in exactly the same position as I am, and I'm sure she would say the same as me.

Perhaps if I explain the annual appraisal process, that shows the balance. I do a personal assessment for the Cabinet Secretary in London of my own operating objectives, and those are high-level objectives to do with delivering 'Prosperity for All', the well-being of future generations commitments, and so forth. Then, a non-exec director of the Welsh Government board collects feedback on me from staff and from key stakeholders outside as well, contributes that direct to the Cabinet Secretary—so, I don't see that personally—and then, importantly, the Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill asks our First Minister for feedback on my performance, so he has the opportunity to contribute to that. Then, the process ends with an appraisal discussion between me and the Cabinet Secretary, which also looks at the wider corporate contribution I've made to the UK civil service. So, I sit on a talent and leadership board for the civil service, and I speak at conferences, I do monitoring, and things like that. 

13:20

Just on that, you mentioned the well-being of future generations legislation, and that's an interesting example, isn't it, because it's a major piece of legislation here, but something that your counterparts, particularly in England I'm thinking, wouldn't have any experience or knowledge of. So, there's very little to actually measure you against in terms of that, isn't there? You've got no-one that you can really learn best practice from in that regard; you're setting the scene. 

No, we're in the vanguard here in Wales. It's something we're very proud of, and, actually, it's a case of other UK Government departments, including the Cabinet Secretary, being very interested in what we do here and wanting to learn from us. I have to say we tend to look internationally for best practice examples, so, to countries like New Zealand and elsewhere who are adopting this kind of much more holistic approach. But, in developing a new strategic approach for the UK civil service in Whitehall, the Cabinet Secretary has been very interested in what we're doing in Wales on the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. But you're absolutely right—they can't measure me against that, but they're very, very keen to learn from our experience in Wales. 

Thank you, Chair. I've got some questions around the challenges on staff numbers and costs. So, the consolidated accounts of 2018-19 state that the longer term affordability of the Welsh Government has remained a serious concern. What exactly is meant by that and what are the implications?

13:25

I'm just looking at the data on page 72 of the annual accounts, on staffing costs. Obviously, the resource situation is never static. We have to make sure that we respond effectively to emerging new priorities—so, new Bills that are coming along, new initiatives—and that we respond to all of that within budget. So, that is the overarching priority. 

The immediate pressure on staff resources is driven at the moment, or has been driven over the course of the last 12 months, very much by preparations for Brexit and, in particular, a 'no deal' outcome. That has dominated our planning, and I was delighted that the Wales Audit Office gave some very positive feedback on how we have been resourcing ourselves to deal with that. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, however it happens, it's clear that there are going to be very significant new powers coming for the Welsh Government, flowing back from the EU, on things like agriculture and the environment. So, that's one of the areas I'm very conscious of in terms of long-term affordability. We need to make sure that we are covering those issues in the longer term. 

Where are we at the moment? The First Minister agreed to provide an initial £10 million in 2018-19 to support Brexit-related activities specifically, and he's allocated a further £25 million for 2019-20. So, that's been a big focus of our effort in making sure that our staffing is sustainable. What we've done is to recruit temporary staff directly on Brexit work or backfilling for people who have been reprioritised onto Brexit work. And I have been very conscious of the need to ensure that we're maintaining the longer term sustainability and affordability of the organisation, which is why we've looked to take on a lot of temporary staff, as, in fact, our colleagues have in Scotland and Northern Ireland, for exactly the same reason. At the moment, it is quite hard to predict exactly where the resources might be needed for the future, so we've taken on some really good temporary staff to fill the gaps and tackle the priorities at the moment. 

I've commissioned internally a detailed review of staff resources to check where our resources are deployed at present as part of a longer term look at how the organisation should be resourced for the future—what will be our priorities, where do we want to deploy our resources? So, at that stage, we'll be able to decide if we're making the best possible use of our resources, both at present and for the longer term. So, it is a constant area of interest for me to make sure that we are, as an organisation, affordable and deploying our resources in the right areas. So, that's why I highlighted that issue. 

Thank you. My next question was going to be to ask you, really, whether the financial pressure had been quantified and how it was being addressed. So, everything that you've told us so far about the preparations for Brexit and the capital that's been allocated to you for that, would that cover that question or are there any other aspects we should be aware of?

At present, it does. That covers the costs that we felt were needed to deal with the immediate situation. Of course, the resource situation is never static, because we can expect changes. But it is a key part of my job to oversee and manage the resources of the Welsh Government within our budget. So, this is why we're looking at work on where the resources of the Welsh Government are deployed at the moment. 

And is there a limit or a cap on the number of people that the Welsh Government can employ and, if so, who would set and control that?

13:30

I set the head-count controls. It is a way of making sure that we keep within the overall budget. What is driving the resource management is the budget, obviously; I have to manage effectively within budget and make sure I'm delivering priorities within budget. So, to help me do that, I set head-count controls. Those are agreed and controlled with my senior team, because they obviously need to be working within those controls. There's then a rigorous governance process for making sure that we stay within them, which includes a process that Peter runs. He chairs a resourcing panel to control the numbers of people coming in at grades below the senior civil service, and any appointments and recruitment of people at senior civil service level are controlled by the remuneration committee, which is chaired by a non-executive director. 

So, the budget determines head-count controls, which are then managed through a rigorous governance process. The executive committee, ExCo, that I chair fortnightly keeps a very close eye on how things are going, and obviously I discuss the resource situation of the Welsh Government on a regular basis with the First Minister and with the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd to make sure that we're on track. 

And with all these pressures upon the Welsh Government's resources and staff, what do you see as being the main risks that arise out of those? How are those risks assessed and managed?

Well, I guess the way that I would put it is I cannot afford to take any risk to our statutory delivery responsibilities, or to effective delivery of ministerial priorities in Wales. Therefore, with my senior team, I am constantly prioritising and reprioritising resources and making sure that I'm clear about ministerial priorities, and that we monitor programme and policy delivery through our business planning and monitoring process. So, all of that is going on constantly. 

Thank you. And then just a few questions around the voluntary exit scheme as well. So, given that that scheme is voluntary, how do you make sure that you target the right people and you don't lose those with the skills that you need? 

I think we set out on page 75 of the annual report what happened on voluntary exit. The voluntary exit scheme is designed to do two things, really: it's designed to reduce the staff cost for the organisation, and also to create potential headroom to take on people with new skills that we might need for the future. So, for example, more people with digital skills, more people with Welsh language skills, a whole range of skills that we need for the future. It works by—. When we advertise the scheme, we publish four assessment criteria against which every application has to be considered, and those are very, very rigorous. We look at the replaceability of the individual and their application wouldn't be accepted if their leaving meant we'd have to recruit somebody new from outside. We look at business continuity. Obviously, we couldn't accept the loss of somebody who would have a big impact on our business continuity.   

Can I just ask on that, then, has any application for voluntary exit been declined? 

Yes. This year, we had 223 applications in total and 81 of those were rejected. So, we accepted 142. Just to be clear, the other two criteria that we publish are key skills—we can't afford to let people go who've got the core skills that we need for the future—and the fourth one is savings. We have to make sure that all of this generates a staff cost saving to the organisation for the future. So, it's complex. There are layers of scrutiny of the applications. They go through line managers and directors, through group recommendation panels, and then the final decisions are taken by ExCo—the executive committee that I chair—to make sure that we are being fair and consistent and very rigorous about the approach that we're taking to VES.

13:35

Thank you. Just one final question then, if I may, and that's to ask whether the Welsh Government has used any settlement agreements or confidentiality clauses as part of its exit scheme and, if so, can you set out how this complies with the recent guidance issued by the Cabinet Office?

We don't use either of those. I'll ask Peter to say anything additional that he wants to, but we don't use them. We comply with Cabinet Office guidance, of course, and, in fact, we've written to our arm's-length bodies about that issue as well. Peter, is there anything that you wanted to add on that?

For the scheme, no settlement agreements or confidentiality clauses are used at all. There are occasional other exits where we would potentially be engaged with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service and they use something called a COT3, which is an agreement, and there is a confidentiality component to that, which we always strip out. We use them very rarely. But in terms of the scheme, it's exactly as Shan described.

Yes. Going back to where you started, Chair, this might sound like a very basic question, but who is your line manager, if such a thing exists?

My line manager is Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, in that he is the person who, using the process that I set out, prepares my annual report. But it is a form of dual accountability, because as a UK civil servant, I report to Mark Sedwill, but in my role as Permanent Secretary, I am responsible to the First Minister and to his Government.

Mark Sedwill's line manager will be the Prime Minister. 

So, in his case, he doesn't have dual accountability. He has a single accountability to the Prime Minister, whereas you have dual accountability.

I'm not aware of the terms of his employment, I have to say, but my understanding is that he is responsible to the Prime Minister. But I must say that all of the Permanent Secretaries are in a different position. And, as I said, my Scottish counterpart is in exactly the same position as I am.

Yes, but the point was that there is at least one civil servant who has a single line of accountability to the Prime Minister, and it is your line manager, effectively.

Good afternoon, Chair, and good afternoon, Permanent Secretary. I will just pick your question from the people survey in respect of Welsh Government, leadership and management. Less than a third of respondents in the latest people survey felt that change was managed well in Welsh Government and that when changes were made they were usually for the better. What do you think are the reasons for this and what action have you taken in light of the survey results?

Okay. On page 22 of the annual accounts, I set out what we're doing on what I'm calling futureproofing the organisation. But in response to your question about the management of change, I think we have to acknowledge that leading change is very difficult. Most people don't like change, whatever the nature of change. That's something I've discovered over the course of quite a long career. It's uncomfortable for most people, whatever the nature of the change.

All the research that we've done—and I'll ask Natalie to say a bit about how we've approached it—shows that staff engagement and involvement is essential to embed change successfully. So, that's what we've done. When I arrived, the former First Minister told me that the Welsh Government needed to strengthen its skills, join up much better and be more focused on Ministers' top priorities. I didn't arrive with a pre-set template—I've seen those in operation before. I don't think that's the right way to approach change, I don't think it makes for lasting change, and, if anything, I think it breeds cynicism towards change.

So, I looked at the people survey results and I went round all of our offices and talked to people for the first six months about what they thought was right and what was wrong with the systems that we had. That was in response to the First Minister's remit. And, particularly with help from Natalie and her colleagues, we designed the futureproofing initiative in response, with a very, very wide involvement of staff. The overall aim of that is to build a more confident, a more capable and a much more resilient civil service for the Welsh Government—more adaptable. One of the first things that we did was to strengthen the leadership training and culture in the Welsh Government. We did that through a programme of training called Future, Engage, Deliver. That was a very early piece of action that we took. Now, we have over 3,500 managers trained, and we have just over 5,000 staff. It's an integral part of everything that we do. My aim is to share understanding of what good leadership means, and to bring an understanding of the benefits of change management across the whole organisation.

We've been introducing very wide-ranging changes. As I said at the beginning, some of those will be uncomfortable, around promotion assessment and performance management, but all of them have been based on best practice, in building them up from discussions with staff directly. So, I'm not surprised at the low people survey result on change management; it is uncomfortable, but, actually, we did see a 3 per cent improvement last year, even so, despite all the changes that were made. Our next people survey will be carried out early next year, so we'll be looking very closely at that for evidence of what's happened since then. Natalie, do you want to say anything about how we've approached it?

13:40

Yes. So, as Shan said, when she arrived as Permanent Secretary, the people survey results were one of the first things that we had a really good look at, in terms of where did the focus need to be for futureproofing. And, obviously, the leadership and managing change scores—against a very positive set generally of survey results, where we tend to benchmark above the rest of the UK civil service. About 110 organisations take part in the survey, so it's the biggest benchmarking survey of its kind in the UK, and one of the biggest internationally. So, generally, we score very well. We wanted to carry on, where we score well, building progress, and then also address the areas where we wanted to bring that performance up in level towards some of our best areas.

So, leadership and managing change, the theme there covers two parts. One is on confidence in leadership. So, as Shan said, we looked at a lot of international research and UK research, including randomised field trials by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, on performance management and the kind of coaching conversations that we believe leaders need to have to be able to introduce change successfully. We trained about 3,500 leaders in Future, Engage, Deliver—quite intensive half-day sessions. This was because the research that had been carried out internationally showed that the way you change just systems, like performance management systems, for example, and promotions systems, you can effect a certain amount of change by doing that, but it's actually by investing in the training in leaders and managers that you're more likely to achieve real change. The CIPD research showed about a 9 per cent improvement where that had happened in other organisations.

We've done some early tracking after that investment. Obviously, it is still early days—these are not things you change overnight. But our early tracking showed that, where people who had been trained were leading different types of coaching, forward-looking performance conversations, about 40 per cent to 45 per cent were saying that they'd seen an improvement in those who responded in the first three months, where they were having much stronger conversations about how to use their own strengths, much stronger conversations about development, and stronger conversations about prioritisation. So, we've been putting quite a lot of effort into tracking this and research, and, as Shan said, we'll have another bite at that in the new year when we run the people survey, but it is—it's about investment in leadership at every level. Obviously, we've got over 5,000 staff. A lot of that leadership is carried out at branch level, so we made sure that that investment went in at every level, not just the senior civil service, although there was a lot of work role modelling those types of coaching conversations at senior level. So, it's been an extensive piece of work, and I would say we are seeing early results.

So, with the people survey, we're allowed to ask some Welsh Government-specific questions—about 10, usually—that aren't benchmarked across the rest of the UK. We go into more specific detail on confidence in leadership than our colleagues across the UK. So, we ask teams whether they have confidence in their leader at head branch level, head of division level, head of department level, head of group level. And in those questions we were getting about 81 per cent confidence in decisions by line managers, and at head of group, for example, in that one year, we saw the stats go up by 5 per cent, which is quite a big shift in people survey terms. Getting a 1 per cent to 2 per cent shift is relatively achievable year on year, but a 5 per cent jump in one year is quite a big jump, if you look at benchmarking on these kinds of questions. So, we're confident that we're set in the right direction. We've put a lot of investment into leadership training and into coaching and into strengths, but obviously there's always more to do, and I'd hope we'd see real progress in the new year when we measure again.

13:45

Okay, thank you. In 2018-19, you introduced a new approach to performance management. Can you explain how this differs from the previous management and how will its effectiveness be assessed and measured?

Yes. It's a very different kind of approach, and, again, as Natalie was suggesting, it's based on extensive research and best practice from across other UK departments and internationally. In the past, the traditional civil service approach was that, at the end of every 12 months—if you were lucky, you had a mid-term review in the middle; at the end of every 12 months, you had a detailed retrospective assessment of your performance against objectives. When I first started in the civil service, you weren't even shown it. Part way through my time in the civil service, you had a session with your line manager, sitting with it in front of you, and all of us from that era know how to read upside down as a result—

Very useful skill. So, that was the old style. It was backward-looking. At the end of a year, in a lot of detail against objectives, quite often you'd be talking about things that you'd forgotten about, and very much retrospective. 

The new approach, which we've drawn up based on research and in consultation with all of our staff and with our trade union side, is the opposite really. It's based on regular, forward-looking discussions between individuals and line managers. And, although we're not the first to adopt this, we're an early adopter. And now, I think many Whitehall departments are adopting a very similar approach. They've recognised that the old way of doing things just wasn't having the right kind of results in terms of improving performance. So, it responds to information in the people survey, which Natalie was just talking about, which showed that less than a third of staff felt that the former approach helped them improve their performance, helped them to respond to new priorities or focus on development, which is pretty bad. So, we introduced this completely new approach in July 2018. We did a very short spot survey after that and it showed very positive initial results that people were having much better conversations about their priorities, looking ahead, building skills, personal development programmes. 

The people survey showed that 71 per cent of our staff were receiving very regular feedback on their performance, which I think is good and certainly above the Whitehall benchmark, and obviously we'll be using our next people survey to really drill down into the experience of how this is working. But I think it's an important development. It's one that other departments in the UK civil service are offering.

Thank you. And how will your new performance management system link to the assessment of the performance of the Welsh Government civil service as a whole?  And will you report in the consolidated accounts?

13:50

I think it's very difficult to link evidence about an individual's performance very directly to the performance of the Welsh Government as a whole. But we will draw on the people survey data—which will include some of that, but aggregated—for the KPIs that we're preparing for the new performance framework. I think Jeff Farrar is going to talk to you later about the initial work that's been done on this. And we'll certainly provide an overview in the next accounts on how that new performance management approach is being embedded and what results we're seeing from it so far. But I doubt that it'll be really possible to show a sort of direct link between performance of an individual and performance of the organisation as a whole. But we'll certainly look at what we can get from that information.

Thank you. And what percentage of Welsh Government staff have had an annual performance review in the last 12 months and how does this compare with previous years?

Well, the answer is 'none', because we've moved away from that traditional annual reporting mechanism. So, that traditional end-year review, along the lines that I described before, no longer exists. So, instead of it, we have these regular forward-looking conversations that go much more widely. And, under that system, people are appraised and given information about their performance on a regular basis, and that is continually updated, reflecting real-time performance and development.

It's a very simple system of three performance categories, which are, I think, succeeding, strengthening—i.e. developing—and underperforming. So, very simple to measure. Development plans are agreed as part of that process, obviously. We recommend that those kinds of discussions happen about every two months, as opposed to the annual process before, and, as I said, our people survey is showing that people are getting very regular feedback.

The only thing I would flag up is that, for senior civil servants, there is still a UK-wide approach in that we have to fill in a nine-box grid, marking on talent and promotability, effectively, at both the mid year and the end-year point. And although we no longer do that for staff below the senior civil service, for those in the senior civil service we think it helps them to compete on equal terms for the range of development and talent programmes that are offered by Cabinet Office, and it also means that they can be assessed much more easily for interchange. So, it seems fair to do it for them.

We've obviously got a whole system of measures to take if we detect underperformance, obviously in line with employment law and ACAS guidelines. But we manage performance very carefully. Obviously, given the investment we make in our staff, and particularly in their development, that's a last resort, but it's a last resort that we take where it is necessary. The figures I have show that, over a rolling 12-month period, the HR team has handled, I think, 18 formal performance cases, cases of poor performance, and, as a result of that, 10 members of staff have left the Welsh Government. So, I hope that shows that we've moved to a new system, we don't have those annual events anymore, but we have a system that is forward looking but still underpinned, I think, by some very rigorous performance measures. 

Okay. Especially on the poor performance, I'm asking, what are the measures you're taking to monitor and deal with them and manage them?

Well, those come in through the regular performance discussions. I'll ask Peter to talk about what happens when underperformance is identified, but there are a range of measures including, obviously, identifying the need for training and support. Personally, I believe that very few people are trying to underperform. I think, very often, it's a case of somebody perhaps not being in the right job or, more importantly, more commonly, not having the training and skills that they need to do that job. So, we look at those sorts of issues first to make sure that people are properly equipped to do the job. Peter, do you want to say anything else about the monitoring of underperformance?

13:55

So, we've had, effectively, a centralised case advisory team for—well, for many years. But, on the introduction of the new arrangements, we strengthened that slightly. They've always had a role to monitor and record, and we do that on a rolling 12-month basis. They also provide advice, with links into employment lawyers as required. 

We've found, since the new arrangements have come in, more conversations with line managers of a more proactive nature, but cases tend to be reacting to an issue. So, they've started, over the last six to eight months, having proactive conversations with managers about how they can handle the situation, partly with an aim to avoid the formal, but certainly to get into that dialogue around poor performance earlier.

So, it's definitely a function of management. But we've got what we feel is a fairly robust and client-focused—if I can use that phrase—approach to supporting managers in particular, when they move through what are difficult times for both the manager and the individual concerned.

You reported a marginal decrease in the average working days lost due to staff sickness. However, the number of days lost due to long-term absence increased in 2018-19. Can you explain why this is the case and what action you are taking to address it?

There's a chart on page 76 of the accounts that sets out the position. You're right: last year saw an increase of 5 per cent in long-term sickness, but, actually, it also showed a larger decrease—about 7 per cent—in short-term absences, and also an increase in staff who had no sick leave. So, that went up from 44 per cent in 2017-18 to 49 per cent in 2018-19—the percentage of staff with no sick leave at all. So, it is an improving picture, and, overall, sickness absence has continued to fall slowly, but I am obviously not complacent about it. Something I would say is that tackling long-term absence can be, obviously, easier for some conditions than for others. The figures there include colleagues who are suffering from cancer, respiratory disease or who are recovering from major surgery. So, there are some difficult factors there.

In terms of what we're doing to tackle things, for mental health conditions, we've introduced a range of measures to help staff identify early signs of stress. So, it's been very much part of the dignity and respect at work campaign, getting people to be more open to acknowledging their own stress, and recognising signs of stress in others. So, we've got an internal health awareness campaign. We signpost staff to external public health campaigns.

We launched a health and well-being strategy in 2017-18, and that gives advice for managers and individuals on best practice. We've introduced some resilience training, which I particularly welcome because, this year, I think, there have been a lot of challenges through Brexit preparations. So, that's something I have been very conscious of. And I think, very importantly, we've strengthened our outreach to staff who are absent. So, strengthening the outreach and increasing the contact I think has been very positive. We'll continue to do that.

You'll remember that we introduced a well-being hour last year. Staff are allowed to spend up to an hour each week on activity designed to improve their health and well-being. In fact, what lots of them have been doing—and I've seen it in a wide variety of our offices—is getting together to do things. That, I think, has a lot of benefits. So, that's one factor. And another one is we've introduced smart working very recently, which gives our staff much more flexibility over their working hours and the location, and I think there's already some evidence showing that it's reducing travel time. So, it's helping underpin and reinforce our location strategy, enabling our staff to work at offices across the whole of Wales, and at the same time reducing the stress and anxiety of time spent travelling. It enables people to work in the location that is most suitable. It's likely to be another office. This isn't a home-working strategy by any other name. It is about genuine flexibility and smart working.

So, in all of that, on sickness absence, it is very worrying. We'll continue to monitor that very closely and make sure that we're taking advantage of any best practice that we can identify to help us tackle that. But, as I said, on the long-term sickness in particular, some of those things are very, very difficult to tackle.

14:00

You've confirmed, I think, that you're not going to take part in the civil service people survey this year. Is that correct?

Yes. I'll ask Natalie to explain the background, but Cabinet Office is in the process of changing their contract for the people survey. Previously, we've just been part of it and we've specified some Welsh Government specific questions, so, for example, on the use of the Welsh language and to do with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015—things that would not otherwise be included in that survey, but which make it valuable to us. To be honest, there are some things in that survey that are not of particular value to us, like the brand of 'A Brilliant Civil Service'. That's not something that we tend to use in Wales; that's a much more Whitehall-focused initiative. So, we secured extra questions in the standard survey.

This year, because of the change-over to a new contract, Cabinet Office were unable to guarantee that we could have the kind of Welsh questions that we wanted and needed, and, therefore, I looked at the cost versus the benefits of what they could offer to us and decided it didn't square up, because they couldn't give us the kind of information that we really need as Welsh Government. Therefore, we are running our own equivalent at the beginning of next year, which will give us the answers that we want. It will be designed in a way that enables it to be compared with UK Government statistics, so we won't lose that ability to compare, but we will keep the Welsh focus and facts that we need from it. Natalie, do you want to add anything to that?

Yes. They've been looking, essentially, at the methodology and the contractual arrangements for what is a very, very big survey, and the advantages of being part of a big survey are the benchmarking—which we take very seriously and it's very useful to be able to look across—but also the cost. Being part of a bigger survey has tended to keep the cost down a bit. But, as Shan said, the balance this time, when we couldn't get our Welsh-specific questions this time, was changed a little bit.

Some of the questions, for example, we ask much more localised questions about leadership, because it really matters that we understand, at every level of leadership, how effective that's been for lots of reasons that we've already touched on. We would have lost those. So, traditionally, certainly when I started in this area of work, you'd get the questions on leadership that just ask a very broad question about leadership in the main survey. And for specific managers, it's quite hard then to say to them, 'Look at the scores in this area, we think we may need to improve them', because, as I say, we don't know what people mean by 'leadership'. We know exactly what people mean because we ask those in our Welsh Government specific questions, we can track it right down to teams of 10, we can track it over time, and we can track it in terms of performance compared to peers. So, we were reluctant to lose that set, particularly with all of the questions on the use of the Welsh language, and on collaboration and well-being of future generations behaviours.

So, what we're going to do is we're going to do an in-house survey, which, as Shan said, will give us all of the main tracking questions that we think are important, including things like inclusion, dignity and respect-related questions, all of the main ones that we would want to track against the rest of our colleagues across the civil service, but we can keep our Welsh ones. So, we will be doing that, I hope, in February and then assuming the contractual position and we will be negotiating hard, obviously, with the Cabinet Office to get our Welsh questions back in for next autumn and then we will rejoin. So, actually, it gives us a fairly intensive set of results for next year then because we'll have a February and then an October bite at it. We're lucky to have a very professional social research team internally that will make sure that the kind of rigour around the questions that we ask and the way they're analysed, because we guarantee to our staff that they are never disclosable, that we have that kind of rigour around what will be a slightly smaller survey set because we will knock off some of the ones that are less important to us, but we hope a robust tracking so that all of Shan's activity on futureproofing, we can make sure that it's having effect through next year.

14:05

Going back to one of the questions earlier on, that's an example of where we have flexibility in the civil service of the Welsh Government to do what we think is right in the Welsh civil service.

I don't want to stray into the next area of questioning, but I'm just interested. Is the UK civil service people survey, the kind of questions that they ask, is it consistent with the kind of competencies, for example, that they emphasise through the success profiles framework? Is there a connection between the two?

I don't think, historically—. So, this survey set—. I mean, obviously, in any kind of people surveying you're always trading off being able to evaluate your new initiatives with having tracking data that allows you to monitor performance over time, and we have the same issues. So, not every question, I would say, in the UK people survey, I would think, is that useful or necessarily phrased in the most apposite way possible, but we make a compromise because it gives us longitudinal tracking data. I would say, at the moment, no, probably. I wouldn't want to speak for UK colleagues, but I don't think that you can necessarily look at success profiles against the people survey and say that you could draw some clear correlation here. We are interested in that, obviously, because we have taken a strength-based approach to performance management quite deliberately, because we believe it's the most effective way and we are increasingly using strength-type questioning in some of the way that we're setting up our promotion gateways. It will be a blend. Strengths will be one of them, there will be competence, skills, technical ability and so on as well. I would probably be advising Shan next year that we do some separate testing and evaluation around that. We do a very thorough evaluation of our performance gateways, but I think we'll probably need something in addition to the people survey to be able to make sure that that's working. 

Thanks, Chair. Can I just pop back to something that you talked about a few minutes ago, Shan? You were saying about people being able to have an input into which office they're located in sometimes, but you said it wasn't anything to do with homeworking. I just wondered, regardless of that, is there some scope for homeworking and is that catered for? 

Very definitely. We do have a homeworking policy. The new smart working is intended to be wider than that, though, and it is supported by our new ICT. Actually, I'm a very poor example today because I have only paper, but normally we have very mobile laptops, so it means when I go every week to London I can take with me my laptop, plug it into the computer over there and immediately start working as though I am in my office in Cardiff. So, we have a homeworking strategy and criteria for being able to do that. Smart working, which I was talking about, I think, helps to underpin the location strategy by meaning that people don't have to come so often to Cardiff, because a key part of the new technology that we've bought, the system that we've bought, is a programme called Skype for Business. So, people now can Skype in individually very, very easily. We have, to be honest, in the Welsh Government very, very good tele-conferencing and video-link equipment, but that's more static, you have to book it, it's less flexible. Whereas now, with the individual laptops, people can join a meeting very easily via Skype. And I've certainly seen that. It's worked in meetings that I've been in, where somebody has joined the meeting by Skype. They're not normally working from home. They might be working, I don't know, from Aberystwyth and Skyping in, rather than coming up the road. I think that is a really important development. It underpins our location strategy, it offers a lot more flexibility for the future. We have, separately, a homeworking strategy, but this is a broader smart working strategy, which we trialled at our Merthyr office. Peter, do you want to add anything to that?

14:10

Yes, on that last point you just made, Shan. Shan has described the new technology we've got, which does allow us to dock in, if you like, to any of our workstations in any of our physical locations. The homeworking policy is for people who are—. Sorry, in my head I've got 'dedicated homeworkers', which means that their home is their place of work. So, we have a specific assessment of the workplace there that is slightly different from an ad hoc arrangement. You have to put more kit in place, for example, there, because there are clearly health and safety concerns from sitting with a laptop literally on your lap for a long period of time. So, it's just to be clear that the ad hoc arrangements, when you're not in a workplace, are just that. But, yes, the facility is available. 

Can I just come in on that? Sorry. Security must be an issue, if you're able to log in from all over the place. Have you put a fair amount of investment into that?

Yes. I defy you to get into my laptop. [Laughter.]

If I could add—and I might regret saying this in the future—we've done a thorough assessment of the ability to get into these bits of kit and it's safer than me carrying this around and leaving this lying around, because there's no cryptology attached to this folder, obviously. I don't mean that to sound blase. There's an awful lot of effort that's gone into ensuring that these are two-bit and all sorts of encryption levels. I'm going to stop there because I'm in danger of confirming my lack of knowledge in this area. 

It seems that there is a commitment to move away from dragging people into unnecessary transport, which I think is good. Obviously, there are technical difficulties, but they're going to be overcome in time. 

Now, can I go back to what we were talking about—and Adam was talking about this a little bit—which is to do with the success profiles and also how it's different in Wales with the well-being of future generations Act, which has been mentioned a couple of times? You said in September to the committee that,

'all resourcing activity will be underpinned by the Expectations we have developed to reflect the...devolved context and the Well-being of Future Generations'.

What are these expectations, and can you explain how and why they've been developed?

I think this is another area where I'll ask Natalie to come in, but to give you an overview, this has been part of the work that we've done under the futureproofing initiative. We've developed, with staff and with our trade union side, a set of what we've called 'expectations' of how people should behave in the Welsh Government. They set out our ways of working and they set out what we value in the Welsh Government. They obviously do not replace what's in the civil service code or the Nolan principles. They are complementary to all of that. But they're trying to both explain the kind of long-term culture change we're trying to achieve through futureproofing and also to make sure that we are embedding the ways of working in the well-being of future generations Act.

So, as Natalie said earlier, they've helped inform the design of our new development and assessment gateway for promotion at particular levels. They are very much part of the performance management conversations that I was mentioning earlier, when people have the regular forward-looking discussions. The expectations are part of that. They cover four key areas. So, the obvious ones, I guess, are how we lead, how we learn in the organisation, how we perform and how we work. In each of those different areas, there are broad messages about how we want people to behave in the Welsh Government, what we value and what we expect from people. In relation to the well-being of future generations Act, then, obviously, they incorporate in particular references to collaboration and involvement as two of the five ways of working.

So, those are the expectations. They relate very closely to the work that's going on in the rest of the UK civil service, but we tried to produce something that reflects what we want in Wales and, in particular, incorporates key elements of the well-being of future generations Act. We felt that was really important.

Natalie, do you want to add anything to that? 

14:15

So, unfortunately, some of the naming around this can be a little bit confusing. We have our set of expectations that sits here, and we did it in consultation with our staff and trade union side, and talked about what's really important to us as Welsh Government civil servants in these areas. Success profiles, which is being introduced across the civil service in the UK, is essentially a recruitment methodology. It's a move away from the traditional competency-based, 'Give me an example of when you last did x or y' style of interviewing, which increasingly, I think, people had felt that what could be learned from that style of interviewing wasn't necessarily, particularly from a diversity perspective, giving the best results. And what success profiles is is a wheel of things that you can choose to use when you're interviewing either for a group of staff or for an individual role, and it blends things like strengths, competencies, skills, technical ability, and so on. It enables human resources teams and recruiting managers to say, 'This is the kind of testing we want to do for this kind of role'. 

So, in Welsh Government, when we've looked at setting up, as Shan said, our development and assessment gateways to bring more robustness and consistency to who we choose for senior leadership roles, we have set that out with the expectations at its heart, of saying, 'These are the things we want to test for: we want to test for an inclusive leadership style, where leaders are able to bring the best out of whole teams; a self-developmental style, where people also put focus on developing teams; collaborative and involving behaviour, where people understand that, to get the best possible policy and service design, you bring people together'.

So, it's those kinds of things that blend what we are really committed to through WFG and other areas that sits in the top of our design process for our recruitment. We think success profiles is really helpful, in that it's a handy toolkit for creating good, robust assessment. And then, on top of that, we've invested in something called strengths profile, which is essentially an online diagnostic tool that we encourage members of staff to download and use. And what it does is it helps them explore, through an online questionnaire that then gives you results—you probably use something similar yourselves—what your strengths are and what your learned behaviours are, and perhaps where some of your weakness areas are.

When we launched the new performance management style last July, we made one of those available to every member of staff, and 3,700 and something of our staff have downloaded one so far, which is a very high percentage for something like this. And we encourage staff to take it into their very first performance check-in to have a different kind of conversation with their manager, more of a coaching conversation that comes from a background of believing that you will get better performance out of someone if you are enabling them to play to their strengths and develop what they're good at, than if you go in from a deficit perspective where you're looking for their weaknesses and flaws.

So, it's a different ethos around recruitment and a different ethos around performance management, and a different ethos around development. And what we're finding is that those things actually work very well together. So, far from being a conflict with success profiles, we found what we've done with the expectations and what we've done with our strengths-based performance management approach is to bring all those things into a whole, so that all bits of our system, if you like,  are pointing in the same direction. So rather than saying, 'We value this over here, but we're going to interview for it in a completely different way over here', or, 'We're going to give you another set of measures for performance management', we want all the bits of our system to be pointing in the direction of what we value, and then putting that into practice by promoting and recruiting people who've got those behaviours, and by embedding that in performance management and the way we develop people. So, the intention is that, by doing things consistently across the board, and those things working together, we start to change the culture in the organisation, especially around leadership.

14:20

There's an awful lot of jargon involved in it, I'm afraid. But it does actually, I think, make sense in practice, and we increasingly use it for recruitment. In fact, for my own recruitment to this job, I had to complete a strengths profile for discussion, as part of a fairly lengthy interview process.

It sounds sensible to get more of a buy-in from the staff themselves. But I suppose—. Comparability was mentioned earlier, and this is a new way of doing things. How far are the results, further down the line, going to be able to be compared with the old ways of doing things?

Well, again, we'll probably expect to see something come out of the staff survey on how individuals have reacted. But we are using these, as Natalie said, in our promotion systems as well. And I think getting the expectations out there, getting people to talk about strengths, in line with the sorts of strengths we think people should have at different levels of the organisation, means that people are naturally moving towards those sorts of areas. So, I think, over the longer term, it really should have an impact. And, as Natalie said, it's coherent, which is really important.

Obviously, it's early days for a lot of this, but, on some of the early results that we're seeing, for example, we used that approach and the expectation for recruitment to our grade 7 talent programme and what we found was that we got a much more diverse mix of people being successful through that talent programme than we've had through other styles of recruitment. So, we had high percentages of women, colleagues with disabilities, we had people from across Wales more successfully—because we had had some feedback that perhaps people who work in some of our offices outside Cardiff felt a bit disadvantaged in the types of questions that were being asked. Whereas, with this, we had a very good regional spread. Similarly, with our first grade 7 assessment and development gateways, again, a good picture in terms of the diversity of those coming through, and we think it's largely because of the focus on a developmental approach to managing and leading teams.

Okay, thanks. One other thing that was mentioned, or touched on, was futureproofing. What specific objectives have been set for the futureproofing programme, and how will performance against them be measured and reported?

There are no specific objectives. Futureproofing is a programme that is designed to change the culture of the Welsh Government. It's not something that lends itself to specific individual targets. As I said at the beginning of this session, I don't believe in imposing templates and targets on what we're trying to do. I think we need to engage people, involve them, and build up momentum. I don't want them to see this as yet another change programme that will last as long as I'm Permanent Secretary and then they can hopefully throw it away and think about something else. The aim of what I'm trying to do comes back to the task I was set by the former First Minister when I arrived—I'm trying to build, with all my colleagues, a more confident, capable and resilient civil service for the future, more adaptable, able to tackle the kinds of priorities we need for the future. I believe very strongly that the Welsh Government is a good organisation, it is full of talented and committed people who really care about what they're doing. I think that that has been demonstrated magnificently this year in response to Brexit.

When I talked to staff, though, during my first six months, about how we could improve things, the kinds of things that came to light were things like greater transparency and fairness in promotion systems, better leadership—Natalie's talked about that—and better performance management, which is something that always came out in our staff survey, and access to better learning and development opportunities. So, all of that was echoed in what I saw in the people survey. And, in addition, there were a lot of messages about the importance of dignity and respect for all staff in the workplace. So, that's something I've built in as well. All of those are different elements of the futureproofing initiative. I think you'll agree that it's very hard to tie down to targets in those areas. Some of the things, you could attach targets to, but they're probably the least important things, and what we need to do is generate real culture change that's lasting over time.

The kinds of culture change that we want to see are reflected in the expectations that Natalie talked about, and we're seeing some changes already. We use the people survey very extensively to validate what we're doing, which is why we need to make sure that it asks the right questions for Wales, not just the right questions for London. So, for example, we've seen that there's been a 200 per cent increase in take-up of learning and development opportunities, which I think is really important. We've broadened the scope of things.

So, there are some bits that we will look at. We will try and identify where we can where there are improvements, but I think it would be hard to pin us down to a small number of very specific objectives on futureproofing, because it is a culture change initiative and much, much wider than that. 

14:25

Following on from Gareth Bennett, yes? The Commission on Justice?

Yes, certainly. The Commission on Justice made some critical comments in relation to the civil service and particularly in relation to its needs to increase leadership skills in relation to matters affecting justice, and it's worth quoting the actual words of the commission's report:

'We have been unimpressed by the way in which some issues have been dealt with.'

How do you respond to those criticisms, Permanent Secretary?

Well, just to put it on record, this is an incredibly important document. I think it will have, potentially, lasting implications for Wales and the Welsh Government. So, it's a document that we all take very seriously indeed, and we welcome the energy and creativity that Lord Thomas has put into it. There's a great deal for us to learn from it, both in the short term and, I believe, in the longer term. 

I think it would be surprising if we had all the leadership skills in this area that Lord Thomas would hope to see in the Welsh Government, because we don't yet have those powers and responsibilities. We have already created a new justice transformation team to follow up the report with co-ordinated work across the Welsh Government. I know it is a concern of Lord Thomas. I had a number of meetings with him during the course of his preparation of that report. 

I know that, when the First Minister welcomed the report in Plenary, I think last week, he made clear that new powers and responsibilities would have to be accompanied by a full financial settlement. So, I would expect there to be additional resources. So, we don't have the resources at present; we don't have the powers at present. But I would point to a parallel, which I certainly find very encouraging, which is that the Welsh Government has taken on, since devolution, radical new powers on legislation, and we recruited and trained staff to deliver those responsibilities very successfully. We've built strong in-house capacity. We've delivered some really groundbreaking legislation, if you think of the well-being of future generations Act, for example, but also the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013. I think the Welsh Government has a very impressive record in developing new legislation and, therefore, in building the in-house capacity to do that. So, I would say that we have got a track record of successfully developing our capability in new areas as we've increased our remit, and I've seen the same in our approach to Brexit, for example, as well.

That's what we're trying to do in futureproofing. I said at the beginning it was all about building skills and capability for the future and improving our ability to respond quickly to new priorities. Assuming that we are given the powers and assuming that we are given a full financial settlement to go with those powers, then I have every confidence that the Welsh Government would be able to respond to the challenge, and we would draw on all of the expertise and best practice available to help us do that.  

14:30

Do you have any view in relation to the different model that he presents, which he contrasts to the Whitehall model, which he maintains is excessively expensive? So, effectively, if I can paraphrase, a leaner core, working more in partnership with external sources of expertise. Do you recognise that as a potential alternative approach to policy development, in particular, within the civil service? 

That's certainly something that we would look at. I think the way that we operate in the Welsh Government is already different from Whitehall because of scale. Our scale means that we have to operate differently, and I would say that our approach to the civil service as a whole is actually very lean and agile. If you think of the breadth of responsibilities that we have as a Welsh Government compared to any single UK Government department, we already have to span a very wide range of areas within pretty tight resource constraints. So, that is certainly a model that we would want to look at. But we would want to look at best practice, including internationally as well. I think this would be a really important step forward for the Welsh Government. We would need to get it right—we would need to learn from best practice everywhere—but the model that you're suggesting is certainly one that we would look at and which I think would fit with the way that things are already done in the Welsh Government. 

Iawn. Diolch yn fawr am hwnna. Os caf i troi nawr at gwestiynau yn ymwneud â chydraddoldeb yn gyffredinol, ond yn benodol y bwlch cyflog rhwng y rhywiau, mi oeddem ni, rwy'n credu, yn y sesiwn blaenorol wedi cyffwrdd rhywfaint ar adroddiadau roedd Chwarae Teg wedi eu gwneud, oedd wedi'u comisiynu gan Lywodraeth Cymru. Dŷch wedi ei ddweud—. Dwi'n cymryd eich bod chi'n bwriadu bwrw ymlaen â mynd i'r afael gyda'r cwestiwn o fwlch cyflog rhwng y rhywiau trwy eich cynllun amrywiaeth a chynhwysiant newydd, fydd yn cael ei lansio a'i gyhoeddi ym mis Ebrill y flwyddyn nesaf, yn hytrach na bwrw ymlaen gyda cynllun arall penodol ynglŷn â'r union gwestiwn yma o'r bwlch cyflog. A allwch chi ddweud rhywfaint am baham—beth yw'r rhesymau dros ei gynnwys e mewn cynllun mwy, yn hytrach na chynllun penodol ar wahân?

Okay. Thank you very much for that. If I may turn now to questions regarding equality in general, but specifically the gender pay gap, we did, I think, in the previous session, touch a little on the reports from Chwarae Teg, commissioned by the Welsh Government. You have said—. I do take it that you intend to press ahead with addressing the question of the gender pay gap through your new equality and inclusion plan, which will be launched and published in April next year, rather than pressing ahead with another specific plan regarding this exact question of the gender pay gap. Could you tell us a bit about why—what are the reasons for including it in the broader scheme, rather than a specific, separate scheme?   

Can I start just by saying a couple of words on the gender pay gap? Any gender pay gap is wrong and we need to tackle it, but I think in Wales we have less far to travel than some other parts of the UK. Our gender pay gap is 7.96 per cent—that's at the end of March last year; those are the latest figures. And there's a very slight decrease already in the Welsh Government, down from 8.8 per cent. The context is a UK civil service average of 12.2 per cent against our 7.96 per cent. Now, as I said, any difference is wrong, but at least our journey is a little shorter. In fact, the average for Wales as a whole I think is about 15 per cent.

It's clear that we've got some real issues to address here, and in terms of outcomes, not just in terms of pay and terms and conditions, because all the evidence shows that the gender pay gap is affected by grades and working hours as well. And I think both of those are likely to affect BAME and disabled people within the Welsh Government as well.

We're very grateful for the work that Chwarae Teg have done. We're building actions to reduce the gender pay gap into the new diversity and inclusion action plan that you referred to, which we launch next year. So, we're building in action to remove barriers to progression and to improve equality of outcomes for all people with all kinds of protected characteristics, rather than just focusing on the issue of pay and conditions, because we think it is a much broader issue, set of issues, that we need to tackle.

I'm very clear that I want to see a coherent and inclusive approach across the whole of the Welsh Government, looking at issues of intersectionality rather than just gender in isolation, because it is complex and wide-ranging and many of these issues are interconnected. We're going to launch that plan, as you said, in April 2020. That will draw on advice and guidance from stakeholders and practitioners, including Chwarae Teg, also from our own very active staff networks. We have a group of very active networks covering all of the areas of protected characteristics and, of course, our trade union side. 

I'm clear that we need to bring it all together. I don't think that including that will delay the launch. We're on track to get it out at the right time but, personally—and I know Ministers feel this—we need to make sure that we are not fragmenting the issues, we're looking at intersectionality, and that we're very clear about promoting diversity and inclusion across the Welsh Government as a whole. 

14:35

Yn eu hadroddiad 'Gwneud nid Dweud', roedd Chwarae Teg hefyd wedi defnyddio geiriau yr un mor feirniadol ag adroddiad comisiwn Thomas, mewn ffordd, gan ddweud bod angen gweddnewid diwylliant sefydliadol Llywodraeth Cymru. Yn y cyd-destun ehangach rŷch chi newydd osod mas, nid yn unig yn ymwneud â rhywedd, ydych chi'n derbyn y gosodiad hwnnw ac, os ydych chi, sut fyddwch chi'n bwriadu mynd o gwmpas ei chyflawni hi?  

In the 'Deeds not Words' summary report, Chwarae Teg also use words that are just as critical as the Thomas commission report, in a way, saying that there needs to be a sea change in the organisational culture of Welsh Government. In the broader context that you've just set out, not only regarding gender, do you accept that statement and, if you do, how do you intend to achieve that?  

Thank you. I think this goes back to what I was saying about futureproofing and targets. Culture change, which is what we're talking about, does take time. It's a long-term investment; it's not a quick fix. There are going to be no lasting quick fixes. I think Chwarae Teg in their report talked about a sea change, and you don't achieve that just by little instant initiatives. So, that's what we're trying to achieve through futureproofing. I think we're making some positive progress; I don't know if Natalie may be able to come in with some points on that. We have launched a campaign across the whole organisation called 'Let's talk respect'. And this—. What I wanted to do—. Rather than have a strategy on each aspect of diversity and inclusion, I wanted to bring them together as a campaign to promote what we should all be like, what we should all expect in the Welsh Government. So, we want to try and create an environment where everybody, whoever they are, feels able to be themselves and to make their personal contribution on their terms within the organisation. That includes commitments on diversity and inclusion. It includes, as I was saying before, tackling stigmas around mental health and well-being, and, actually, for me, there's a very important thing, which is embedding the social model of disability—that's something I have a particularly strong personal commitment to. This model recognises that people are disabled by the barriers that society puts in their way, not by their impairment. And that is I think a simple and very powerful concept that means the onus is on all of us to lift the barriers that we put in the way of people with impairments, disabled people. So, this is what we're trying to do altogether.

I hope that through this campaign of dignity and respect in the workplace that we will set out very clearly—it comes back to the expectations that we're setting for the organisation—how we work together, how we can challenge unwelcome behaviour, give people the confidence to do that. The campaign so far has had, I think, very high levels of awareness. Now, it's at a relatively early stage, and, as I said at the beginning, this is going to take time. It's a long-term investment; it's an investment for the future. But, Natalie, do you want to say a bit about what the results are showing so far? Because I appreciate the comments that Chwarae Teg have made. We are fully committed to following up the action that they have proposed in order to improve the way that we operate in the Welsh Government, but I would like to do it as part of a very coherent and inclusive programme of action. 

14:40

Yes. So, as Shan said, we launched the dignity and respect campaign, which is called 'Let's talk respect', for two reasons, really. One was to, as she said, encourage everyone to feel comfortable to be themselves at work and to feel that they can reach their fullest potential with Welsh Government and challenge anything that gets in the way of that, and the other half was to invest in the development of colleagues so that we can help dismantle those barriers.

So, in terms of reach and penetration on the campaign messages, I think it's probably the most successful one, certainly since I've been working at Welsh Government or any that I've seen anywhere in UK Government, in that we've had about 9,000 hits on Shan's messages about dignity and respect, which, given that we've got about 5,000 staff, is pretty much 100 per cent awareness, I think. So, for example, the films, where we've got colleagues talking about why this really matters to them and people from diverse backgrounds—we've had about 6,000 hits on those films, which is very unusual for an internal campaign, but they're very moving personal stories about why everyone needs to feel that they've got their opportunity to play their part at work. 

So, in terms of reach, we are, I think, very pleased with the early stages of that. One of the reasons why we are including the actions specifically around gender pay gap in the inclusion action plan is because I think having a wide range of different action plans with hundreds and hundreds of different actions in all the action plans very rarely adds up to real change on the ground. And what we're really interested in here is the lived experience of our staff, whatever their background, on a day-to-day basis. And having a very focused action plan, where we can bring all of that together and, as Shan said, have an integrated approach across everything we do, we think will have a much higher chance of actually changing what happens for our staff. And whether that's equal access to promotion opportunities or development opportunities and what the outcomes of those are—because it's not just about access, it's about the outcomes that we achieve—we think having a very focused action plan, which fits into our people strategy and is an integrated part of it, is probably a better way of achieving the change that we want to see, rather than having lots of separate action plans. So, we hope we'll be able to report good progress on that next year. 

14:45

Un o'r pethau y mae Chwarae Teg yn dweud yn gyffredinol yw bod y cyflymder newid—y newid penodol yma, ond yn fwy cyffredinol—yn rhy araf. Mae'n sôn am y dyhead i gael gwasanaeth sifil deinamig, mwy hyblyg sydd yn barod i gwestiynu a herio'r ffordd y gwnaethpwyd pethau erioed. Ydych chi'n cydnabod y darlun sy'n cael ei bortreadu yn y geiriau hynny? Hynny yw, mae'n feirniadaeth sy'n cael ei gwneud o'r gwasanaeth sifil yn fwy eang, onid yw e, nid yn unig yng Nghymru ond ar draws y Deyrnas Gyfunol ac yn fwy eang fyth? Ond y rhan gyntaf o symud ymlaen, wrth gwrs, ydy cydnabod y broblem. Ydy'r darlun maen nhw'n gosod mas o ddiffyg cyflymder—? Chi'n gwybod, mae pethau'n cymryd cymaint o amser i symud ymlaen. Ydych chi'n cydnabod bod hwnna'n issue ac yn gwestiwn sydd angen mynd i'r afael ag ef?

One of the things that Chwarae Teg have said in general is that the pace of change—this specific change, but more generally also—is too slow. They note that you have an ambition to have a dynamic and more flexible civil service that's ready to question and challenge the way that things have always been done in the past. But do you acknowledge the picture that's being portrayed in these words? That is, it's a criticism made of the civil service more broadly, not only in Wales but across the United Kingdom and beyond. But the first step in moving on, of course, is acknowledging the problem. Is the picture that they're painting of a lack of pace—? You know, things take time to move forward, but do you acknowledge that that's an issue and that it's a question you need to address?

Chwarae Teg have a great deal of expertise. I couldn't, to be honest, challenge their assessment of us. That's why we have benefited from their input. I would hope that we are moving on already. That's what we're trying to do. I think there are areas of really excellent practice, there are probably parts where we need to catch up a bit more. So, I'm not going to challenge the assessment from Chwarae Teg. I think it's very healthy for us to hear those views and to think very carefully about how we quicken our pace to meet those expectations.

I should say that the Chwarae Teg findings are playing a very key part in shaping our approach to the new diversity and inclusion action plan and the chief executive has already come along. I invited her along to meet our senior leaders team to be able to share her assessment of the organisation and give some thoughts about what we needed to be doing. I have regular meetings with her. I've got one in the next couple of weeks because I think it's really important to hold a mirror up to ourselves from an organisation that has a high reputation in that kind of area. 

The detailed recommendations that Chwarae Teg have made in their equality review have got ministerial sign-off and they've also been signed off by my senior executive committee. So, we are genuinely committed to making a reality of those. Over the period of that plan, which takes us from 2020 to 2024, we do aim to become an exemplar and we will have to keep listening to people who tell us how they perceive us and how the outside world might perceive us. But we must also not lose track of the successes, because I think the positive stories, the successes that we see in the Welsh Government, are going to motivate the whole organisation to recognise that we can do a lot better. Natalie, is there anything you want to add about some of the positive things that we've seen?

So, a lot of what we're doing through futureproofing is in line, I think, with what the report is recommending and what we all want to see. So, some of the things around our promotion and assessment gateways and making sure that the outcomes from those reflect that. Shan has done a number of workshops and in-depth sessions with women in the senior civil service and with women at grade 7 and 6 levels to find out if there are barriers to them wanting to progress. How can we dismantle those barriers? And we'll been doing, as Shan said, an awful lot of work on the social model of disability within the same vein. 

So, although the diversity and inclusion action plan will pick up the recommendations, it doesn't mean that nothing's happening in the meantime, obviously, because we're trying to do a lot across all fronts on that. It just means it will give it a focus. So, there are some real changes that we're starting to see already happening. I think, just a quick example, our women into senior leadership development programme, we release tranches in an afternoon and they're sold out by the next morning. I could throw more and more and more money at it. Obviously we've got an investment to make, but the feedback that we're getting from those is really fantastic, and I think where we're getting that kind of feedback, where we can help dismantle some of the barriers and the myths around what it is to be in the senior civil service, we need to keep doing more of that. 

14:50

I was really struck—. Natalie mentioned the focus groups. We had focus groups of women who were on the cusp of getting into the senior civil service, women who were already in the senior civil service, and there was a lovely moment where one of the women in the grades below the senior civil service said, 'Do you know what, thinking about moving up to the senior civil service is like getting up Pen y Fan, and then you just see that last bit and think can I get up there?', which was very vivid, and that's where these kinds of training courses come in. A lot of it is about confidence; it's not just about skills. Sometimes it's skills and experience; sometimes it can be CV writing. It can be a load of things. But we're doing what we can to respond to those sorts of concerns in the organisation to help them get up to the top of Pen y Fan.

Ydy iaith hefyd yn rhan o'r—? Roeddech chi'n cyfeirio at intersectionality, rhyngblethu gwahanol fathau o ddiffyg cynhwysedd neu anfantais ac yn y blaen. Ydy iaith hefyd yn mynd i fod yn rhan o'r cynllun cynhwysfawr rŷch chi'n mynd i'w gyhoeddi?

Is language also a part of—? You referred to intersectionality between the different kinds of lack of inclusivity or disadvantage and so forth. Is language going to be a part of that comprehensive plan that you are going to publish?

I wouldn't put Welsh language into that category, because I think it is something that affects all of us, that we all need to be taking account of. So, I'm not putting language into diversity and inclusion. We are developing a separate Welsh language strategy for the whole of the Welsh Government. 

Ie. Dwi eisiau dod ymlaen at hynny, sef eich bwriad, eich cyhoeddiad ym mis Medi, dwi'n meddwl, eich bod chi'n mynd i anelu at gyrraedd sefyllfa erbyn y flwyddyn 2050 lle bydd Llywodraeth Cymru yn sefydliad lle gall yr holl staff ddeall Cymraeg a lle y bydd modd gweithio'n ddwyieithog. Mae hynny'n adeiladu, dwi'n credu, ar y gwaith oedd wedi cael ei wneud gan y gweithgor rŷn ni wedi trafod yn y pwyllgor yma o'r blaen. Allwch chi f'atgoffa i? Roedd y gweithgor yna hefyd wedi gosod targed, ond nid 2050 oedd targed y gweithgor hwnnw. Ydy hwnna'n gywir? 

Yes. I want to come on to that, namely, your intention or your announcement in September, I think, that you were going to aim to reach a situation by 2050 where the Welsh Government will be an organisation where all staff can understand the Welsh language and where it'll be possible to work bilingually. That builds, I think, on the work by the working party that we've already discussed in this committee. Could you remind me? That working party had also set a target, but 2050 wasn't the target of that working party. Is that the case? 

Perhaps I can put it the other way and explain what we are doing. What we're committed to— 

Wel, jest ar hwnna, achos mae e'n gwestiwn eithaf penodol. Roedden nhw wedi gosod targed dwi'n credu o 2036 i wneud y Gymraeg yn iaith weinyddu mewnol cydradd ac yn y blaen, yn llawn. Ydy hwnna'n wir? Felly, y cwestiwn yw: pam symud y targed ymlaen o 2036 i 2050, sef yn agos at genhedlaeth o wahaniaeth?

Well, just on that, because it's a specific question. They had set a target I think of 2036 to make the Welsh language an administrative internal language that was equal and so forth—fully equal. Is that the case? So, the question is: why move the target forward from 2036 to 2050, which is nearly a generational difference?

The answer is, we will have a series of milestones and targets. What we're doing at the moment—. I'm very conscious that we've got a series of commitments. There's the overall commitment in 'Cymraeg 2050'. But, for example, the action plan for 2019-20, which underpins the strategy, says that

'We will introduce recommendations to senior Welsh Government officials with the aim of agreeing upon an internal use policy to promote and facilitate the use of Welsh within the workforce. We will prepare an action plan for the policy and will begin to implement it in 2019-2020.'

That's what we are on track to achieve. So, by the end of this year, we will meet that target. We will have started implementing an action plan for our new Welsh language policy.

So, we've done a lot of work. We've looked at best practice, including across the wider Welsh public sector and how they've approached it. It seems to me that what we needed to do was come up with a comprehensive strategy, but with milestones and a series of five-year work programmes, because you're quite right, things will change over time. For example, the school curriculum should ensure that, over time, more young people will be recruited by the Welsh Government with stronger Welsh language skills from the start. So, life will change over time, as we move towards 2050. And it seemed to me to be sensible to bring forward, even more, some targets to make sure that we're on track to meet that, rather than just waiting to head to 2050.

So, I've got a whole series of work streams under way at the moment, looking at an action programme for the coming five years, which would be measured at the end of that five-year period against some specific milestones. And then at the end of that period, following on from the review, there would be a further five-year action plan, and so on, until we get to 2050. So, rather than wait to 2050 or wait to 2036, it seemed to me we needed to bring the milestones and deadlines forward and hold ourselves accountable for reaching them. So that's what we're doing at the moment. We're working on an overall strategy with milestones, with a series of five-year work programmes and a review at the end of those five years. And, obviously, the milestones and expectations will increase over time, as we get to the end of each five-year period.

What I'm trying to do, of course, is make sure that I'm generating enthusiasm for this—enthusiasm for the Welsh language. I'm a linguist by background, and I know there are incredible resources that we have available. What I don't want is to generate anxiety or hostility within the organisation. I want everybody in the Welsh Government to see the Welsh language as an asset. I believe that that is how the organisation feels in general. Since I've arrived, I've seen an organisation that sees the Welsh language as a national asset, something special about Wales. And it's my job to help people to get to the point where they can use Welsh. I do think it's already part of the way that we operate. You can see that many of us wear lanyards that say we're learners. I don't think we've got one here with a Welsh speaker. Peter is very modest; he can speak Welsh a lot better than I can.

14:55

Mae fy Nghymraeg yn ofnadwy.

My Welsh is terrible.

I'd originally hoped to finalise that new strategy by the middle of this month, but last week I took the decision to move that date back by up to two months. That won't stop us meeting our overall target date, which is to start implementing an action plan by the end of this financial year. To be honest, it was a difficult decision, but I decided that I really didn't want to sacrifice quality and ambition for just a few weeks of work. This has got to be the start of a long-term and credible strategy that will take us through to 2050. That's what I want to do, and I already see a lot of enthusiasm and commitment. 

We've done a great deal. The Welsh Language Commissioner is giving us a great deal of help and support. He's been to talk to the board and he's given a presentation to senior staff. We've had a board discussion of an initial strategy paper; I've met some of the people who've been pointed out to me as exemplars in this area. So, the chief constable for north Wales, I talked to them about how they've promoted the use of the Welsh language, and also in south Wales, so that we're learning from their experience, how they went about it, what kind of targets and milestones they introduced for the organisation. Back in July, I chaired a challenge session—and it was our first bilingual one—to agree how we were going to go about drawing up a strategy and a five-year work programme, so with a whole set of work streams, looking at different things, like recruitment, types of training, how we can use new technology to spread the use of Welsh. And that's, obviously, something really important. All of those are being done in co-production with colleagues from the TUS—they have engaged really enthusiastically in that work, which is obviously fundamentally important, because it means we will be setting new expectations for our staff. We had a second discussion at the board back in September, to talk about where the strategy was going, agreeing next steps. And in the meantime, we've already changed our recruitment practices, so that Welsh language skills are directly recognised as an asset for recruitment. So, it is—

15:00

It was mixed—it depended. I think in some areas, say, digital, people were focusing on digital at the expense of other skills as well. We want a much more holistic approach. Peter, do you want to add to that?

I think they were considered, but the way we described it in job descriptions was, 'Welsh is not essential, but we'll support you in learning.' And just changing the language, to say, 'Welsh is an asset, we will support you to learn the language'—just trying to change that dynamic, to avoid it being perceived as a barrier or a closed shop. So, it's just a change in tone, I think.

So, as I said, I've shifted the target date for the internal strategy, but we will still meet the target date in 'Cymraeg 2050'. And I hope that it will be a genuinely comprehensive strategy, with some very clear milestones, set in five-year periods, rather than just 2036 and 2050. I think it's much more realistic to look at our progress every five years, and see what we need to do to change.

It is a top priority for me, and it's really important to get it right. This is something our First Minister cares about a great deal; he uses Welsh very extensively in everyday work. And so I'm conscious that we need to accelerate progress—I think we've got a good foundation, we've embedded the Welsh language standards very firmly across the organisation. Now, we need to accelerate progress, set ourselves some clear targets. And we've got some good examples to look at from the wider Welsh public sector, and if they can do it, we can.

Roeddech chi wedi dweud o'r blaen y buasech chi'n fodlon rhannu y papurau perthnasol i'r pwyllgor yma. Ydy hwnna yn dal yn dderbyniol gyda chi?

You had said previously that you would be willing to share the relevant papers with this committee. Is that still acceptable to you?

Jest cwestiwn o ran y gweithlu: ydych chi'n cadw data ynglŷn â sgiliau ieithyddol Cymraeg ar draws y gweithlu? A beth yw'r ffigurau craidd ar gyfer y rhai sydd yn rhugl, er enghraifft, a'r rhai sy'n dysgu Cymraeg ar ben hynny? Os nad yw'r ffigurau gyda chi nawr, efallai y gallwch chi eu rhannu nhw gyda ni.

Just a question in terms of the workforce: do you keep data on linguistic skills—Welsh language skills—across the workforce? And what are the core figures for those who are fluent, for example, and those who are learning Welsh? If you don't have the figures now, could you share them with us?

Shall I deal with the figures first? Peter and Natalie can correct me. The people survey—as I said, one of the reasons why we wanted our own is because the UK-wide one doesn't show use of Welsh. The people survey shows that one in three of Welsh Government staff used some Welsh in their work in 2017, and 17 per cent used it at least daily. The picture for me isn't absolutely clear-cut, because I think different questions are being asked. And we will not in the first period be looking for complete fluency, clearly—we will work our way towards bilingualism. But, Natalie, do you have any other figures?

I don't have them to hand, sorry, but we also collate figures on our human resources system, so that people can designate their own level of ability to write or speak Welsh. So, we have those and we're able to track those over time, and we compare them to the people survey statistics. So, we'll be able to match those.

15:05

But once we've got this strategy, the next steps on it are, I'm expecting to finalise the draft a consultation with Ministers within the next four to six weeks, I hope. There'll then be, obviously, a formal consultation with our trade union side, to get their views on it. They have, as I've said, been very closely involved in developing the strategy, but, nonetheless, I want them to have a proper consultation. Then the executive committee will be able to agree it, probably in January. Actually, that's not a bad time to launch a new strategy, I think—it gives us time to get it in place within the terms of our commitment. That's the point when I'd like to share the full strategy with the PAC, but I'd be very happy to provide a progress report, say, in mid December on where we are. I know there's an awful lot of very innovative work going on at the moment into how people learn languages and perhaps some of that might be of interest as well. I think there really is a lot of work and a lot of enthusiasm, it feels to me, and we'd certainly be very happy to share that with you.

Gaf i jest yn olaf, Gadeirydd, ofyn cwestiwn ynglŷn â staffio o fewn yr adran sy'n gyfrifol am bolisi'r Gymraeg? Fel roeddech yn dweud, mae llwyddiant polisi'r Llywodraeth o ran y Gymraeg hefyd yn effeithio, wrth gwrs, ar allu'r gwasanaeth sifil i gwrdd â'r nodau yma. Wrth ollwng y Bil Cymraeg a oedd yn mynd i greu asiantaeth hyrwyddo hyd braich, un o oblygiadau hynny wedyn, wrth gwrs, yw bod y swyddogaethau a fyddai wedi mynd i asiantaeth allanol yn aros yn fewnol o fewn y Llywodraeth, gyda'r gwasanaeth sifil. Yn gwisgo'ch het fel y person sydd yn gyfrifol am strwythur staffio a lefelau staffio, ydyn ni'n mynd i weld cynnydd yn nifer y staff sydd yn gyfrifol am bolisi'r Gymraeg, yn wyneb y ffaith nawr fod y swyddogaethau yna'n mynd i aros yn fewnol o fewn y Llywodraeth?

Can I just finally, Chair, ask a question about staffing within the department with responsibility for policy on the Welsh language? As you said, the success of the Welsh Government's policy with regard to the Welsh language affects, of course, the civil service's ability to reach these targets. In dropping the Welsh language Bill and creating a promotion agency that's arm's-length, one of the implications of that, of course, is that the functions that would have gone to an external agency now stay internally in the Government, with the civil service. Wearing your hat as the one with responsibility for staff structure and staff levels, are we going to see an increase in the number of staff who have responsibility for the Welsh language policy, given that these functions will now stay internally within the Government?

That's one of the things that the strategy will look at. To be honest, we have areas of very specific expertise on Welsh language policy and standards, of course—monitoring of standards. And we have a Welsh language unit, which is mainly translation. But my personal instinct, depending on what comes out of the work for the strategy is to mainstream as much as possible across the whole organisation, rather than have a separate area seen as responsible for Welsh language. We need some of that; we obviously need a lot of expertise on Welsh language translation and doing Bills in the Welsh language. There's some experimental work going on at the moment—one Bill that has been drafted first in Welsh. So, we're trying to build our expertise in that area, but I would—. Pending the outcome of this strategy, my personal instinct is to mainstream as much as possible.

Adam, I'm afraid we're out of time with that line of questioning.

Before we finish to go into private session, I need to ask you a final question. On 24 October 2019, you wrote to the committee about the additional work undertaken by the Welsh Government's non-executive directors. This noted that one of the overpayments made in 2018-19 had still not been recovered. Could you tell us why?

That's right. I think I said in that letter that we had written to the individual concerned and set out the different options for recovering that overpayment. And I believe that's in hand. I don't know if it's actually been paid yet, but it will be paid very shortly.

It hasn't been paid yet, but we've only in the last week or so issued the final agreement—

It's in the pipeline, yes.

5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod
5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill ac eitem 1 o gyfarfod 18 Tachwedd 2019 y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and item 1 of the meeting on 18 November 2019 in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Okay, we're going to move into private session now for the final part of this evidence session. So, I move Standing Order 17.42 to go into private session. If Members could stay with us.

15:10

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 15:10.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 15:10.

Dysgu am Senedd Cymru