Tag Archives: Participation Cymru

The Wales Audit Office and Co-production

Re-shaping services with the Public

How does the Wales Audit Office’s work fit in with the co-production agenda in Wales? On Tuesday I attended Working With Not To’s Big North Wales Co-production meet up! to share what we’re doing.


When I started thinking about co-production and audit I immediately started thinking about public service performance. But after we ran a shared learning seminar with the Society of Welsh Treasurers last Friday, it struck me how our finance work is equally tied into co-production. Participation Cymru’s All Wales Network was also taking place down the road, and despite the different subject matters, the Wales Audit Office report on Meeting the Financial Challenges Facing Local Government in Wales linked them together as “ineffective stakeholder engagement means that some councils may not be adequately reflecting the needs, priorities and expectations of their citizens.”

So co-production can help save money by targeting it where it can be used most effectively. But at the event I also pointed out that genuine co-production still needs resources to be successful. We heard a lot at our Land and Asset Transfer Shared Learning Seminar about how assets that had been passed on to town and community councils weren’t viable without the right support.

Council 2025: A vision for local government in Wales

A couple of weeks ago the Auditor General for Wales spoke at the Welsh Local Government Association’s Annual Conference and examined re-organisation of local government. I recommend watching the video below if you haven’t already as he asks some searching questions – where is the debate in Wales about what local government should be about? Where are the models of delivery and enablement that will help us deliver the value and quality that Wales needs?

He also looks at co-production in Welsh local government:

I carried out as you may recall a study on public engagement in local government a couple of years back. That found few practical examples of collaborative forms of engagement. Since then, I’ve seen very little evidence of a shift towards co-production, or as it’s often described, working with and not to.

The Wales We Want

Co-production is also a theme in the mid-term report of the Future Generations Bill. The bill presents a big challenge to public services, including the Wales Audit Office. The only way that we can audit in a way that’s meaningful and proportionate is by working with councils to co-produce a solution. We’ve already started doing that by using feedback from the Future Generation Bill Shared Learning Seminar in the work that Mike Palmer is leading on, and there will be more chances for public services to let us know how audit can be effective.

So what is the Good Practice Exchange doing to help?

In order to help public service organisations to get to grips with this, we’re holding a free seminar on Re-shaping Services with the Public. We’re practicing what we preach about working in partnership, and the event will be run in collaboration with Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Wales Public Service 2025, 1000 Lives Improvement Service, Wales Co-operative Centre and Good Practice Wales.

Sketch notes for the Wales Audit Office and co-production presentation / Nodiadau Braslun ar gyfer cyflwyniad Cydgynhyrchu a Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru

Sketch notes for the Wales Audit Office and co-production presentation

The theme of the event has obviously struck a chord, as next week’s event in Cardiff is fully booked, but there are still some places available for September’s event in North Wales.

The emphasis of the seminar is going to be on sharing practical experiences of how different relationships can help re-shape public services to deliver better outcomes. We’ll be using the #ReshapeServices hashtag on the day if you’d like to follow it on Twitter, and we’d love to hear from you about what’s working in your area too.


Jargon busting


Recently we’ve been hearing from the Wales Audit Office Communications Team about how our upcoming new and improved website will be simpler to use and also make it easier for people to find the information that they need.

Andrew Purnell, the Wales Audit Office’s Digital Communications Officer, has been educating us as a team about what an effective website looks like, and also how language plays an important part in that. It’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for if you don’t understand the headings you’re looking under, and it’s even worse if you can’t make head nor tail of the information once you’ve got there. He explained to us how providing a website glossary means that you’ve failed at your duty to provide a clear language website, and if people don’t find the right information first time they’ll simply click away from your site.

As the public service watchdog for Wales, the Wales Audit Office has an important role to play here. It’s important that we show how important it is that information from Welsh public services is clear, because it means that people have a better understanding of the work that we all do.

Cllr Andrew Jenkins recently blogged for us ahead of the upcoming scrutiny conference, saying that ineffective communication between politicians and the electorate has led to distrust in politicians. The same things can also happen with public services, as this moving blog from Mark Neary shows.

There’s lots of information online, including guides from the Plain English campaign and its Drivel Defence tool, as well as the Cymraeg Clîr or ‘Clear Welsh’ handbook from Bangor University.

If you choose to go down this route, there’s no need to start from scratch. Monmouthshire County Council have helpfully already made their staff writing guide available online.

I had the privilege of working with the Citizen’s Panel for Social Services in Wales in my last job with Participation Cymru, where I unfortunately heard too often about how people aren’t given the information they need to help them access the right services for them. It’s important that we all make sure that people can make the most of their public services by making information both easy to find and to understand. I wonder how many public service websites truly do this?

–      Dyfrig