We recently held a Good Practice Seminar on ‘The role of scrutiny in relation to Future Generations’ at Cardiff and Llanrwst. This was very different seminar to our usual Good Practice events. As the Well-being of Future Generations Act is very much in its infancy, case studies reflecting the five ways of working are yet to emerge. So that meant we had to design a seminar to fit the need. We opted for a ‘learning through doing’ approach, which meant that the delegates worked jolly hard on the day.
We were also aware that how we were going to share the messages from the day, needed to be shared in a manageable way, so we are trialling sharing these through blogging. This is the first of a series of three blogs based on the characteristics of good scrutiny – Environment, Practice and Impact.
We’ve recognised, as a good practice team, that people like information in different ways. We’ve included the raw outputs from the day if you would like more detailed information.
On the day we asked delegates to feedback on the one thing that they were going to do differently as a result of the three workshops they attended. In this first blog we wanted to share with you some of the points that delegates shared after Workshop 1 – Environment. If you didn’t attend the event this blog will give you an insight into points to consider and reflect on if you are currently using these factors.
We thought it may be helpful if we put the outputs from the day into the following headings.
I’ve used the words ‘Public Engagement’ to summarise one area of the statements delegates shared at the end of workshop 1 on the theme of Environment. It is clear to me that delegates understand the need to engage, listen, and consult more with their public to ensure that ‘real people’ have a chance to input their views. A two-way communication is key when making decisions, it was very pleasing to hear that this has been recognised and many delegates identified that making it more accessible and inclusive for questions to be asked and voices to be heard.
One delegate stated ‘‘People before process’ – consider emotional as well as financial support’.
This is another area that was mentioned a number of times in the feedback. I love that delegates are really seeing the importance of improving the way that they involve the local people and communities in shaping their futures – whether that be direct or early involvement, or involving partners like the 3rd sector as well as other public sector bodies.
‘Less focus on budget and more on decision making that matters’ – one delegate has written down.
A few delegates felt that feedback was important. Giving more feedback on the reasons behind the decision, and being clear on the purpose of what is trying to be achieved.
This feedback says to me that quite a few delegates feel that they need support to help them improve the understanding and work of scrutiny in relation to the well-being of future generations. Some mentioned that working in partnership between organisations to address the seven well-being goals of the WFG Act would be a big help to them. It would help them to ‘forward plan’ and to not think about annual budgets.
How can you improve the understanding of using the 5 ways of working in your organisation? Should they be used to shape and inform the decision making process at the earliest stage? These were a few questions that came out of this section of feedback.
One delegate wrote – ‘Scrutiny should not be linked to annual budgets. You can’t make progress for future generations when you are working in 12 month restrictive stretches.’
Lastly, a few points were made about needing a change in culture at all levels in order to think more long-term about effective scrutiny. Scrutiny should not just be about outcomes and budgets it should be about forward thinking to make a lasting, positive change. I am very happy to see that delegates are aware that this needs addressing and hopefully our seminar helped to reinforce the message of how important their role is shaping the future of our future generations.
‘Scrutineers to be aware of the importance of their role and the power scrutiny has to influence.’
Whilst preparing and shaping this seminar, we recognised that this is a step change for public services. Our colleague Tim Buckle wrote a great blog ahead of the seminar ‘Scrutiny for the well-being of future generations – more questions than answers?’ We encourage you to have a read when you have a few spare minutes.