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1. Introduction and opening remarks

The Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government welcomed WPC members to the meeting and confirmed apologies would be noted in the minutes.

The Deputy Minister advised that this would be the last meeting ahead of the Senedd election and thanked the members for their support, with a hope to continue working with everyone in the future. The Deputy Minister also provided a thank you to Ceri Williams for his contribution whilst at the Joint Secretariat and ahead of his return to Wales TUC.

2. Draft Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill

The Deputy Minister introduced details of the recently published draft bill and consultation and offered her thanks to all those who provided a contribution and supported the development of the bill, acknowledging this has been a challenging piece of work considering the pressures being faced with the current pandemic.

The Deputy Minister said that Social Partnership is a way of working which has developed organically over the course of devolution. The bill will strengthen existing tripartite forums, it brings a fair work element to public procurement and places a Social Partnership duty on public bodies.

The Deputy Minister said that the bill will encourage engagement at all levels and helps to complement other policy agendas. It will place Social Partnership on a statutory footing.

The Deputy Minister said that by working in partnership we can all help to develop the bill, encouraging engagement from members and organisations through the consultation.

Shavanah Taj thanked for the Deputy Minister for her continued work with the Trade Unions in a series of meetings on this matter. She said that it was positive that this position had been reached. The next step will be turn the draft legislation into practical benefits for workers. Shavanah Taj also advised that we have not felt the full impact of the Covid recession yet, but that this bill will help us to move forward.

Karen Loughlin also welcomed the draft bill. She said that from a trade union perspective there should be a clear preference for in-house delivery of public services. However, she accepted that many public services are currently being delivered by third parties. She asked whether these providers would be covered by the bill. 
 
Karen Higgins responded that currently the draft bill only covers those public bodies specified as ‘in scope’. However, feedback would be welcome on whether to extend this list, although there may be legal constraints on this.

Alun Richards stated that a stated preference for the in-house delivery of services is currently not in the legislation or being considered in consultation. However the consultation period provides an opportunity for partners to propose this.

3. Social Care Fair Work Forum update

Andrea Street, the deputy director for Social Services introduced a paper on the Social Care Fair Work forum.

She provided an update on activity since the paper was submitted. A position statement is being formed and will be published on the website and shared through communications channels, good connections exist through SCW and ADSS.

The Social Care Fair Work Forum is currently meeting monthly. It has held 6 full forum meetings since its first meeting in September. Andrea Street thanked those individuals who are involved for the work that they completing between meetings to progress the forum’s work.

The forum’s links to other areas of work is very important, especially the Welsh Government’s work on equality.

The Deputy Minister thanked Andrea Street for her commitment to taking this piece of work forward and is looking forward to seeing the final outcome.

4. Socio-economic duty

Alyson Francis, the deputy director of communities introduced a paper on the socio-economic duty.

She said that the socio-economic duty recently been passed by the Senedd and becoming law at the end of this month.

She said that the duty is lever to tackle poverty as part of a wider framework. Her department have helped public bodies prepare for the introduction of the duty coming into force with tools available online and statutory guidance on the Welsh Government website.

The socio-economic duty team plan to work with other bodies to bring lived experience in to the implementation of the duty. They will also focus on the links between the duty and procurement, social partnership and the public sector equalities duty. An implementation group has been established to support public bodies.

The Deputy Minister requested that the tools be circulated to the members and thanked the Wales TUC for supporting Welsh Government on this agenda.

Karen Loughlin thanked the Welsh Government for their work on this agenda and welcomed the introduction of the duty. She asked how implementation of the duty would be monitored. Alyson Francis responded stating that baseline research has been published by the EHRC which tells us where public bodies are now and follow up research is planned. National indicators are currently being looked at and the EHRC’s Fairer Wales report will also provide important data. There will be a need for more discussion about monitoring as there is currently no reporting duty as part of this legislation. However, public bodies will need to demonstrate how they are meeting it and discussions have started on how this can be encompassed onto what they already report on.

Shavanah Taj asked about the link between the socio-economic duty and the draft Social Partnership Bill. Alyson Francis advised that they have been working with the Social Partnership Bill team and that it would be important to consider the feedback in the consultation.

Darren Williams noted that there is a restricted list of bodies covered under the socio-economic duty and asked about expectations on other public bodies. Alyson Francis advised that a number of other bodies not captured are willing to work in spirit of the duty. The tools, resources and strategic guidance is out there to be used and the Welsh Government would encourage other bodies to adopt it.

Margaret Phelan asked whether the duty would cover HE and FE and whether information could be shared with the trade unions. This was noted.

Action

Welsh Government to provide the Joint Secretariat with the Socio-economic duty tools and resources for circulation to WPC members.

5. Public Sector Exit Pay Cap update

Richard Mulcahy, Public Bodies Unit Manger introduced a paper on the Public Sector Exit Pay Cap.

UK ministers have decided to revoke the Regulations and end the exit payment cap from the 12 February 2021.

Currently there are still processes for public bodies to notify the Welsh Government of any exit payments over £95,000 and this will continue until the regulations are revoked. The Welsh Government is unsure what the next steps of the Treasury will be as there is still a commitment to reducing exit payments.

6. WPC future work programme

Karen Higgins presented a paper on this matter on behalf of the WPC Joint Executive Committee.

The WPC work programme proposed by JEC in 2021 has 2 key priorities: the future of work and one Welsh public service.

A number of objectives and actions have been identified, these reflect existing WPC commitments plus a number of additions. More broadly these include agile and flexible working to include home working. Diversity and inclusion including the race equality action plan and the disability action plan. Skills, development and progression, which cuts across a number of work programme objectives. Fair Work, a just transition to a green economy and digitalisation.

Shavanah Taj said work programme has a positive outlook for the future. She said that the themes work together. She said it would be important to understand what is meant by a just transition pilot. Furthermore she said it would be helpful to communicate a vision for one public service so that all workers understand the meaning.

Karen Loughlin said she felt this is a very inclusive piece of work with all elements fitting together and stated that some elements need to move quicker than others, for example, support for working from home.

The Deputy Minister advised the communication on one welsh public service is important, with the messaging done at a partnership level to promote clarity.

Karen Higgins advised that agile and flexible working is split into 2 streams, immediate needs and future needs. The joint secretariat is currently in the process of preparing a paper for the JEC for the meeting being held in June.

The Deputy Minister advised that the post-election priorities will also affect the current work programme.

7. Review of WPC minutes/matters arising

The Deputy Minister noted that the minutes had been formally accepted and that actions from November’s meeting had been met.

One item is carried forward from a previous meeting and was confirmed as ‘ongoing’:

  • The Welsh Government agreed to explore whether a form of words could be agreed with FE and HE to enable participation in the WPC

The Deputy Minister closed the meeting and confirmed that the next WPC is scheduled for the 04 November 2021.

Attendance list

Cabinet

Chair - Hannah Blythyn MS – Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government

Trade Unions

Kelly Andrews – GMB
Neil Butler – NASUWT 
David Evans – NEU
Nicky Hughes – RCN (substitute)
Karen Loughlin - Unison
Dominic MacAskill – Unison
Richard Munn – Unite 
Mike Payne - GMB
Margaret Phelan – UCU
Shavanah Taj – Wales TUC
Jessica Turner – Unison (substitute)
Darren Williams – PCS

Devolved Employers

Graham Jones – WLGA (substitute)
Peter Kennedy - Devolved Sector Group
David Michael - Devolved Sector Group

Welsh Government

Steve Davies – Education
Karen Higgins – Social Partnership
Reg Kilpatrick – Local Government
Jo Salway – Social Partnership
Andrea Street – Social Services
Neil Surman – Social Partnership

Observers and speakers

Sarah Abraham – Social Partnership, Welsh Government
Steve Austin – British Dietetic Association
Charlotte Cosserat – Local Government, Welsh Government
Alyson Francis – Communities, Welsh Government
David Gerwyn – Social Partnership Welsh Government
Lucy Jackson – Health & Social Services, Welsh Government
Mark Lewis – Social Partnership Welsh Government
Jonathan Lloyd – Social Partnership, Welsh Government
Martin Mansfield – Social Partnership, Welsh Government
Richard Mulcahy – Public Bodies Unit, Welsh Government
Liam Perry – Wales TUC
Jo Rees – Wales TUC
Diana Scott-Brown – College of Podiatry
Natalie Stewart – Local Government, Welsh Government
Ceri Williams – Social Partnership Welsh Government

Apologies

Helen Arthur - Health, Welsh Government
Judith Cole – Local Government, Welsh Government
Albert Heaney – Social Services, Welsh Government
Sam Huckle – Skills, Welsh Government
Chris Llewelyn – WLGA
Cllr Philippa Marsden – WLGA
Steve Moore - NHS Chief Executives
Michelle Morris - SOLACE Wales
Julie Rowles - NHS Workforce/OD Directors Group
Simon Smith – Fire and Rescue Services Chief Executives
Bethan Thomas – Unison
Richard Tompkins - NHS Wales Employers
Helen Whyley - RCN

Actions log

No. Action Owner
1 Welsh Government to provide the Joint Secretariat with the Socio-economic duty tools and resources for circulation to WPC members. Welsh Government
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