Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance
A review of the Invest to Save Fund was undertaken by the Finance Committee of the National Assembly for Wales in 2013. The Finance Committee recognised the value of Fund and the valuable contribution it makes to maximising the use of public sector resources. The Committee made several recommendations aimed at improving the operation of the fund, and all of these were accepted. One of the main recommendations made by the Committee was that an independent evaluation of the Invest to Save Fund should be undertaken. The report of this independent evaluation was published in May.
This Written Statement informs Assembly Members of the response of the Welsh Government to the recommendations the report contains.
The evaluation report confirmed the value of the fund and recognised the financial and service delivery benefits which have been generated to date. The report confirmed that the fund responds effectively to drivers such as:
- focusing on delivering improved public services, improving the collaboration between different public sector bodies;
- the need to support organisations in delivering efficiencies in a challenging financial climate; and
- specific issues at a local level which can prevent organisations taking on improvement projects which will improve the efficiency and quality of public service delivery.
The evaluation also found that the fund has generated significant cash savings to date. It estimates that for every £1 invested £3 has, or will be, generated in terms of gross savings – a gross return of 300%.
The message delivered by the report was that we have an extremely firm foundation to build on and we now have the opportunity to develop the fund further so that it becomes one of the most innovative and effective models of its kind.
Some of the recommendations made in the report had already been implemented at the time of publication as part of the process of continuous improvement adopted by the fund. Examples of such improvements include more rigorous systems for obtaining and monitoring the cash savings generated by projects and improved methods for identifying the benefits being delivered to the users of public services.
I am also please to inform Members that in response to the report the Welsh Government will:
- develop a statement of rationale and Theory of Change for the Fund. This will be made available to all individuals and organisations interested in submitting a bid to the fund. This statement will set out clearly what the fund is for and the failures it is intended to address, and will be used as a guide throughout the application and appraisal process;
- investigate how good practice developed by some Invest to Save projects can be adopted throughout Wales. The Welsh Government already publishes case studies to demonstrate the opportunities which exist for generating cash and service delivery benefits. However, the take-up of the opportunities on offer is patchy and I am determined to address this issue;
- develop a performance outcome framework which compliments those in other areas of the Welsh Government. This will ensure that the fund contributes to the Government’s key proprieties;
- assess how the mix of projects in the fund can be adjusted to take on some projects which offer significant rewards but which could be seen as having a greater degree of risk surrounding delivery. The fundamental principle of repayments will, however, be maintained.
The Welsh Government will implement the recommendations made by the report over the coming months.