Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government
The statement provides an update to members of the Senedd regarding the Powys County Council’s (the Council) Improvement and Assurance Board and support arrangements following an external review undertaken by Sean Harriss in March.
The Improvement and Assurance Board (the Board) was established in March 2018 to provide challenge and support to Powys County Council (the Council) in relation to Social Services (Adults and Children) and corporate matters in order to respond to the Care Inspectorate Wales inspections in 2017 (Children) and 2018 (Adults) and the recommendations from Sean Harriss’ diagnostic review.
It was envisaged at the time of establishment that the statutory support programme, including the running of the Board, would last around two years. Given the Board had been in existence for over two years, I felt it appropriate and timely to undertake a full formal external review to ensure any statutory support provided remained fit for purpose and the best use of public money.
As a result, I agreed for Mr Harriss to undertake an external review of the overall purpose / remit of the Board and its effectiveness, in terms of its current remit to monitor progress in relation to Social Services (Children and Adults), Education, and Corporate matters. Sean’s review also included consideration of whether there is a continuing need for statutory independent challenge and support to be provided in all three areas. A copy of Mr Harriss’ report is included at the annex.
I was extremely encouraged with the findings and recommendations of the review, in particular the recognition of the progress the Council has made since the Improvement and Assurance Board was established in 2018. This, combined with the growth of capacity within the Council, means the organisation is now much better placed to drive its own improvement.
On this basis I have agreed to move from a statutory Improvement and Assurance Board to local arrangements to oversee and drive improvement, with a transitionary period before the Board is formally drawn to a close – subject to the submission of satisfactory proposals for alternative arrangements.
I have now considered the Council’s alternative arrangements and I am confident that they will enable Powys Council to effectively manage its own improvement.
External challenge and advice on specific service areas, including education and social services, will continue to form a key part of these new arrangements as will a strengthened assurance role for scrutiny,
The Council has now entered the transition phase with the expectation that the Improvement and Assurance Board, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, will meet formally for the last time in October.
Finally I commend the Council and the Improvement and Assurance Board for the significant amount of progress which has been made in the last couple of years.