Building on his statement to the Assembly earlier in the week, the Minister addressed the WLGA conference in Swansea. He said he expected to see a much more strategic approach to collaboration between authorities with joint appointments being at the forefront of this approach.
The Minister said that the senior staffing structure of Wales's 22 local authorities was unsustainable and outdated. He also expressed frustration at the reluctance of local authorities in making joint appointments for senior posts, such as chief executives, and called on local government to stop talking and start delivering on this issue.
"Too many local authorities in Wales have independently filled Chief Executive posts over the past year without first looking at all the options. We are missing opportunities not only to make savings, but more importantly, to recruit the best quality people, from within and beyond Wales, who can help us deliver an ambitious change agenda.
"Joint appointments will also serve to further encourage authorities and other public sector organisations to work hand in hand and offer shared services which would best serve the public.
"I am expecting much more progress in this area. If I do not see it, I will have to consider other more directive options to force the pace."
The Minister also announced that he would lead a campaign of reform to ensure that Welsh Government policy supported local authorities' ability to deliver. This will include fundamental reviews of the audit, regulation and inspection system and of the Partnership Council for Wales, with the aim reducing bureaucracy and adding value. He also challenged local government to halve the number of partnerships across public services by the end of the year.
"While partnership is essential, we must avoid a culture of meetings and strategy production," he said. "For my part, I will be reviewing partnership activity which the Welsh Government drives in order to simplify and reform the structures."
The Minister however ruled out full-scale reorganisation of local government, saying that it would take much longer, cost much more and disrupt service delivery more seriously. Instead, he would move to implement the Simpson Review of local service delivery as soon as possible.
"I see the sort of collaboration that Simpson envisages as a better alternative to reorganisation. It can mean better and more efficient services, through avoiding duplication and maximising buying power.
"I know there is already extensive collaboration between local authorities but there is clear scope to do more. We want to ensure that all public service organisations are playing a full part in the reform agenda. The aim has to be that good practices and innovative approaches spread rapidly right across Wales.
"We will therefore continue to work collaboratively with partners - supporting, encouraging, and if appropriate using our statutory powers to drive change to ensure people across Wales can see tangible improvements in their public services, which make a real difference to their daily lives."