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Cofnod y Trafodion
The Record of Proceedings

Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau

The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee




Agenda’r Cyfarfod
Meeting Agenda

Trawsgrifiadau’r Pwyllgor
Committee Transcripts


5....... Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
Introduction, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest


5....... Ymchwiliad Ôl-ddeddfwriaethol i Ddeddf Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol (Cymru) 2015: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 5
Post-legislative Inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: Evidence Session 5


25..... Ymchwiliad Ôl-ddeddfwriaethol i Ddeddf Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol (Cymru) 2015: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 6
Post-legislative Inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: Evidence Session 6


54..... Papurau i’w Nodi
Papers to Note


55..... Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod
Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting








Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd.


The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included.


Aelodau’r pwyllgor yn bresennol
Committee members in attendance


Gareth Bennett

UKIP Cymru
UKIP Wales

Janet Finch-Saunders

Ceidwadwyr Cymreig
Welsh Conservatives

John Griffiths

Llafur (Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor)
Labour (Committee Chair)

Sian Gwenllian

Plaid Cymru
The Party of Wales

Rhianon Passmore


Jenny Rathbone


Joyce Watson



Eraill yn bresennol
Others in attendance


Rhian Bowen-Davies

Cynghorydd Cenedlaethol ar gyfer Trais yn erbyn Menywod a mathau eraill o Drais ar Sail Rhywedd, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol
National Adviser for Violence Against Women and other forms of Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence

Carl Sargeant

Aelod Cynulliad, Llafur (Ysgrifennydd y Cabinet dros Gymunedau a Phlant)
Assembly Member, Labour (The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children)

Martin Swain

Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr, Diogelwch Cymunedol
Deputy Director, Community Safety


Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru yn bresennol
National Assembly for Wales officials in attendance


Jon Antoniazzi


Steve Davies

Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

Linda Heard

Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Hannah Johnson

Y Gwasanaeth Ymchwil
Research Service


Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:15.
The meeting began at 09:15.


Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
Introduction, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

[1]          John Griffiths: Let me welcome Members to this meeting of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee. We’ve had one apology from Bethan Jenkins, who’s unable to be with us today. Rhianon Passmore is in heavy traffic, but will be with us very shortly, I hope. No further apologies have been received, nor substitutions.




Ymchwiliad Ôl-ddeddfwriaethol i Ddeddf Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol (Cymru) 2015:
Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 5
Post-legislative Inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: Evidence Session 5

[2]          John Griffiths: Right; well, let me welcome to the meeting Rhian Bowen-Davies, national adviser for violence against women, for our fifth evidence session in our post-legislative inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. Rhian, we’re grateful for your written evidence and we’ll go straight into questions, if that’s okay. Let me begin by dealing with implementation, Rhian. In your view, the aims of the Act in terms of improving the public sector response, and indeed the consistency of provision, do you believe that can be achieved with the current pace and effectiveness of the implementation?


[3]          Ms Bowen-Davies: Wel, bore da i’r pwyllgor.


Ms Bowen-Davies: Good morning to the committee.


[4]          In response to your first question, I think that the Act itself is potentially groundbreaking in terms of how it’s been viewed both within Wales and from an international perspective. I think it provides the overarching principles that could make real improvements to the lives of survivors and their families in Wales, and also the response of our public services. However, I feel that, in terms of implementation, when you look at actually what has been implemented in the last 18 months since its enactment, in terms of one piece of statutory guidance, in terms of the appointment of the adviser, I think, from an external perspective, questions are being asked in terms of the pace of this implementation. I think, because, to date, even the national advisory board haven’t seen a copy of an implementation plan of any significance, I think it’s really difficult to measure where Welsh Government expected to be at this point, and where we’ve actually got to. There are only two timelines within the actual Act itself: one in relation to the national strategy, due to be published by 6 November, and the second in relation to the publication of local strategies, for which the timeline is March 2018. So, I think the lack of timelines that are actually within the Act itself has not given us that timeline to measure against in terms of implementation.


[5]                In terms of the pace, I believe that there have been missed opportunities to align the enactment of this legislation with other key pieces of legislation in Wales. I think that the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, when taken together, could be seen as a real enabling legislative framework to drive forward some of these improvements. The principles are the same; so, when we’re talking about prevention, integration and collaboration long term, they are absolutely embedded within the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act. I think communication, that opportunity to align, and also for public services to see how, when they meet requirements in one piece of legislation, they’re actually contributing across the others—that’s been missed. So, the population needs assessments, which are ongoing at the moment, to be delivered by the end of this financial year, have a core theme around violence against women, and yet it’s being seen in isolation. My concern is that this piece of legislation—the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act—is continuing to silo this matter that actually is cross-cutting across all of the themes. For me, those opportunities are being missed, and therefore the prioritisation of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence isn’t being actually implemented.


[6]          John Griffiths: Rhian, in terms of that alignment of the different pieces of legislation that you mention, I think you’ve mentioned needs assessments as one area in which alignment could take place, and I think we heard last week that training was another. Would they be the two main examples, do you think, of where alignment is necessary and, perhaps, hasn’t taken place?


[7]          Ms Bowen-Davies: I think they’re certainly two examples where that could certainly happen, but I think wider as well, in looking at the governance structures that have been brought in, certainly with the well-being of future generations and the public service boards. Actually, my annual plan raises the issue of governance of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and where that actually sits within our public services, and I think opportunities to actually look at the governance structures that have been brought in by the legislative framework—how can they be used to strengthen governance of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence as well?


[8]          I think the point around training, specifically—. When I’ve met with representatives of public services, their prioritisation—and I understand it from their perspective—has been around social services and well-being. Actually, in terms of timelines, my questions always are: where is violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence aligning with that timescale? Because in terms of resources, releasing staff for training, if we align those, then there’s potential to actually reduce the burden on public services around training, for example.


[9]          John Griffiths: Could I ask you as well, Rhian, in the absence of Welsh Government strategies and guidance, which has featured in the evidence that we’ve taken, do you have a concern that local authorities, third sector organisations, are going ahead and developing their own policies and implementation that, perhaps, isn’t as consistent as would be the case if there were Welsh Government strategy and guidance in place? Do you see a great deal of difficulty in those terms? And if so, could you give us a flavour of your concerns?


[10]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think in terms of that consistency on a Wales approach, I’ve been able to engage and work alongside regions, and they’ve been very keen for me to provide that sort of national perspective and that expert perspective, with a background in the sector as well. So, I think where those regions are actively engaging and wanting to know how they can move forward, I suppose my involvement is providing some consistency. But I think, in terms of the lack of guidance that has been issued, certainly, the multi-agency collaboration guidance, which was consulted on at the end of last year, provided what I felt were quite clear frameworks for regions and local authorities, and other relevant authorities, to be working towards. I think the fact that that hasn’t been published is an example. I think public services are wondering what it should look like going forward. So, I think that uncertainty is definitely there.


[11]      There are a few areas that have undertaken a specific violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence needs assessment to date, and have started to develop their strategies. But of course that, again, has been without a national strategy in place. That’s very much being driven by the regions that have brought those strategies together, and in both those regions they have acknowledged the critical role of the specialist sector in the development of those strategies. It’s not that public services have not wanted that framework, but they just haven’t had it yet.


[12]      John Griffiths: Yes, okay. Finally from me, Rhian, on this issue of implementation, have you had a role in drafting, or helping with the drafting of guidance at all?


[13]      Ms Bowen-Davies: In terms of the guidance, certainly, I’ve provided written consultation feedback through the formal consultation process for two pieces of the statutory guidance. But, I was asked to provide advice following the consultation on one piece of guidance that hasn’t yet been published. I’ve advised and provided that advice, but haven’t yet seen how that would transmit into the final guidance document.


[14]      John Griffiths: Okay, thank you very much. I think Sian has questions on the national strategy or on this matter. Sian, this matter.


[15] Sian Gwenllian: Ie, ar y mater penodol yma, felly. Diolch yn fawr am ddod atom ni’r bore yma. Rydw i, fel chi a thystion y cawsom ni yr wythnos diwethaf, yn pryderu’n fawr am golli cyfle ac am yr arafwch yn y broses. Rwy’n cymryd, felly, na fyddech chi’n cytuno efo barn yr Ysgrifennydd Cabinet sy’n dweud bod Llywodraeth Cymru wedi gwneud cynnydd sylweddol o ran ei dull gweithredu o ganlyniad i’r rhwymedigaethau yn y Ddeddf. Nid ydych chi’n cytuno efo hynny, rwy’n cymryd.


Sian Gwenllian: Yes, on this specific issue. Thank you very much for coming to see us today. I, like you and witnesses we had last week, am very much concerned about losing an opportunity and the slowness of this process. I assume, then, that you wouldn’t agree with the Cabinet Secretary’s view that Welsh Government has made significant progress in terms of its approach as a result of the commitment in the Act. I assume you don’t agree with that.

[16] Wedyn, a fedrwch chi—? Symud ymlaen rydym ni angen ei wneud, rŵan. Beth ydy’ch blaenoriaethau chi? Beth ydych chi’n meddwl y dylem ni neu y dylai’r Llywodraeth fod yn canolbwyntio arno fel mater o frys er mwyn inni gael y gweithredu yma’n digwydd? Petasech chi yn sgidiau’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet, beth fyddwch chi’n ei wneud yn gyntaf a beth fyddwch chi’n ei wneud wedyn?


Then, could you—? We now need to move on. What are your priorities? What do you think we or the Government should be focusing upon as a matter of urgency so that we can get this action ongoing? If you were in the Cabinet Secretary’s shoes, what would you do first and what would you do after that?

[17] Ms Bowen-Davies: In response to the first question, I see no evidence that there’ve been improved responses as a result of the Act being implemented. I think that there is a will there within the public service, but, actually, I think the overarching question comes around resources and what is the expectation to deliver to improve responses. That’s a consistent message that’s coming through.


[18] In terms of how do we drive forward these improvements, I think my first priority would have to be in relation to the draft strategy, as it currently is. I have concerns around that draft strategy. I know that a member of the committee, Bethan Jenkins, was at a cross-party group recently where I spoke about those concerns. And, actually, I am concerned that—within the very small timescale that we have, my preference would be very much that we have a robust, strategically aligned, cross-cutting Government policy that really is going to set out what is expected over the next five years. I don’t think we’re there yet in terms of that strategy. I think there is knowledge and expertise that we have in Wales—our specialist sector, who have been engaged with that consultation process and myself, and I know that they feel the same, from their evidence last week, around, actually, the potential of that strategy, and I think the expectations of people of that strategy, as well, the expectations of the sector and the expectations of survivors in terms of that strategy continuing the momentum from our Act. They were looking for something ambitious that could really make improvements, and I don’t think that that strategy is near that at this time.


[19] Sian Gwenllian: Fe wnawn ni symud ymlaen at—


Sian Gwenllian: We’ll move on to—


[20] John Griffiths: Well, just before you do, Sian, I wonder if you could clarify, Rhian, then, are you suggesting that it might be better to delay the national strategy, so that it is robust and as effective as you mention in the ways that you mention, rather than abiding by the set timescale within the legislation and it not being that robust and effective? Is that your view?


[21] Ms Bowen-Davies: Yes, and I’ve actually raised that in terms of what could be the grounds—you know, I don’t understand the technicalities of it, but what could be the grounds on which that could be postponed. Because I think, in terms of setting a precedent for violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence as well, I don’t think—. My concern is around how that would be perceived by our specialist sector, by our public services, if it was published in its current format.


[22] John Griffiths: Okay. Jenny.


[23] Jenny Rathbone: I just wanted to pick up on your remarks about resources, because I think we are in danger of having a perfect storm here, as more people feel confident about coming forward and there isn’t any more money for the services that people need. I mean, there’s a housing crisis, counselling services are overburdened, and we’ve heard from various organisations the amount of time that people are having to wait, even children having to wait, after having had a very acute experience that obviously requires them to get assistance. So, I absolutely understand your desire that we amalgamate the approach to the social services and well-being Act, but how are we going to not simply raise expectations only to shatter them?


[24] Ms Bowen-Davies: I think the point that you raise is absolutely valid in terms of the increased demand, because I think all the policy priorities within the Act—so, the national training framework, ‘ask and act’—are about early identification and intervention. So, if you’re proactively asking, then that is going to increase identification, and there’s only one place to signpost those individuals if it’s around specialist support.




[25]      I think that the sector and myself are very clear that there are no additional resources, but I think that the resources that are currently available could be used more effectively, and there are suggestions around looking at what resources go into violence against women, not just from the communities and children portfolio, but looking across Government—so, health initiatives from the health portfolio in terms of the IRIS project in GP practices, for example, and the approaches that can be taken within health, looking at education and the links with education.


[26]      So, it’s not necessarily—. The sector understands that there may not be an increase in funding, but actually using what resources we have, and I think it’s looking—. If we’re looking across Government, it then shows an example to regions or localities what they can look at across the sector: so, looking at police and crime commissioner budgets and being able to actually identify the whole resources that are available, and then to use them more effectively. I think that sustainable model for specialist sectors is so important, and the specialist sector is willing to work alongside Welsh Government and myself to develop that sustainable funding model.


[27]      But I think the specialist sector would also ask questions on—. There have been increases in budgets to certain sectors over recent weeks, we’ve heard, and, actually, why is there not a consideration in terms of violence against women, especially with the Act requirements? When I sit and hear public services say that, actually, there is no other investment that goes into violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services except for the minimal Home Office grant and Welsh Government grant—no other funding goes into that, and no funding has been allocated in future budgets when I’ve spoken to specific public services—that really concerns me, because they have legislative requirements and there’s no consideration of how they’re actually going to implement those at the moment. So, I think there is a recognition that the sector, even, needs to work differently to deliver within a sustainable funding model. But, actually, that commitment to our specialist sector isn’t within our strategy at the moment, and, if it’s not within the strategy, then where will that sit in terms of priorities for Welsh Government funding, and, critically for the third sector, I think, where will that sit in terms of prioritising funding at a local and regional level? The consensus seems to be that, if grant funding is lost, that’s not necessarily going to be picked up by our public services, and that will have an impact on our services, potentially, from April next year.


[28]      Jenny Rathbone: Is there a model that you could point to where resources are being used more effectively in the way that you think would be more appropriate—either in Wales or in the rest of the UK or anywhere else?


[29]      Ms Bowen-Davies: There is an example in Wales I’d like to point out in terms of the substance misuse allocation, because that is actually an integrated strategy across Government areas that is also agreed with health in terms of how that will be distributed. I think, actually, even the governance arrangements and the resources around the area planning boards are an example that we could move towards for violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, because of the governance framework, the commissioning framework, and that regional approach that’s been taken for substance misuse. Further afield—not too further afield, though—Scotland, with their ‘Equally Safe’ strategy, have looked at how they’re allocating funding on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. They’ve actually looked at a central fund for some elements of that funding, but then they actually contribute towards core funding of specialist sector organisations, and they actually have a higher number of membership organisations in Scotland than we have in Wales. The Scottish Government have also just committed an additional £30 million to violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence for those three years up to 2018.


[30]      So, I think there are some models that can be looked at, some around central funding being held by Welsh Government, and then actually how do we effectively pool resources at a local and regional level. Those discussions are starting to happen, but I think, without really strong direction and leadershipat a national level through the national strategy, then we risk inconsistency in terms of how that’s going to be applied across Wales.


[31]      John Griffiths: Okay. Thank you very much, Rhian. Yes, Sian.


[32]      Sian Gwenllian: Jest cwestiwn ynghylch y cyllid. Mi glywsom ni wythnos diwethaf gan un tyst, ac roedd hi’n sôn yn benodol am arian ar gyfer FGM. Roedd hi’n poeni nad oedd yr arian yn dod drwyddo i Gymru, bod yna arian Swyddfa Gartref nad oedd yn cyrraedd Cymru a bod angen edrych ar y Barnett consequential o ran hynny. Tybed a oes yna feysydd eraill hefyd lle mae yna arian yn mynd i blismona ac yn y blaen yn Lloegr a dylai bod yna arian cyfatebol yn dod i Gymru trwy’r Barnett consequential sydd ddim yn dod. A oes angen darn o waith yn y maes yna a ydych chi’n meddwl?


Sian Gwenllian: Just a question regarding finance. We heard last week from one witness, and she mentioned specifically money for FGM. She was concerned that the money wasn’t coming through to Wales, that there was Home Office funding that wasn’t reaching Wales and that we need to look at the Barnett consequential in that regard. I wonder if there are any other areas as well where money is going to policing in England, for example, and there should be match funding coming to Wales through the Barnett consequential that isn’t being sent. Is there work needed in that area, do you think?


[33]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think certainly the issue of equity of budget has been raised on a number of occasions, when there have been specific funds for England. The Department for Education is another example of a fund that’s been released quite recently, in terms of, specifically, FGM education within schools, and also Department of Health funding that’s come through to fund initiatives such as IRIS, and also routine enquiry in terms of adverse childhood experiences, and that’s been funded through the Department of Health in England. I think my concern is around how Wales will access funds that are intended for England and Wales if the alignment and the connection have not been made and the relationships aren’t there between officials on a practical level in terms of what that funding could mean for Wales.


[34]      So, a specific example in terms of that is that, for the last eight or nine years—I’d have to check to be quite specific—Home Office grant funding has contributed toward the funding of ISVAs and IDVAs and MARAC co-ordinators in each local authority area. The Home Office have been quite clear that that would come to an end at some point, and they gave a very strong indication in their violence against women and girls strategy, which was launched in March this year, that funding will come to an end in March of this year. The Home Office reasoning is around, ‘We’ve provided this funding for a number of years. Really, it should be looked at how this is being integrated into local and regional core funding now.’ But the grant fund that’s being brought in to replace that is called the transformation fund and will be applicable to England and Wales and could have real potential in Wales in terms of partnership bids to drive forward some of the work. My concern is that, if that integration isn’t there, and if the alignment is not being made between our national strategy and the Home Office strategy that still applies to our non-devolved organisations—so, our police and police and crime commissioners, and other partners in the criminal justice system, will be looking specifically at that strategy; that alignment needs to be made so that we don’t miss that opportunity.


[35]      Similarly, there were some concerning views expressed by the third sector at a recent meeting that I went to—the possible unintended consequences of our legislation, which embodies prevention, protection and support requirements. That is being interpreted by some charitable funds as now statutory requirements, so, therefore, a possible unintended consequence for our voluntary sector is that they’re then not able to access funds through the charitable funds that they’ve relied on to actually deliver wider services. Now, I don’t have the evidence of that, and that is something that I am keen to explore, because this was so recent. But, if that is an unintended consequence, then that’s a real threat to our specialist sector, because that actually underpins a whole lot of other resources—the statutory resources. The voluntary sector bring in a huge amount of that grant funding and, if they can’t access that because the interpretation of the charitable funds is that prevention, protection and support are now a statutory requirement, that’s really concerning for the future of our services.


[36]      John Griffiths: Okay. Thank you very much, Rhian. Sian, I think the national strategy is our next area.


[37]      Sian Gwenllian: Rydych chi wedi cyfeirio’n barod at y diffyg strategaeth genedlaethol. Rydych chi wedi dweud nad ydy hi’n ddigon cadarn fel mae hi ar hyn o bryd ac rydych chi wedi awgrymu efallai y dylid gohirio cyhoeddi honno. Fy mhryder i efo hynny ydy bydd y gwaith ym mynd ar ei hôl hi hyd yn oed yn fwy, ond rwy’n gallu gweld y ddadl bod yn rhaid ei gael yn iawn, neu efallai na fydd y gwaith ddim yn llifo ohono fo yn y ffordd iawn. Beth oedd eich rôl chi fel cynghorydd wrth ddatblygu’r strategaeth?


Sian Gwenllian: You’ve already referred to the lack of a national strategy. You’ve said that it’s not sufficiently robust as it is and that perhaps we should delay the publication of that. My concern with that is that the work will slip even further back, but I can see the argument that we need to get it right, or perhaps the work won’t flow from it in the right way. What was your role as the adviser in developing the strategy?

[38]      Ms Bowen-Davies: As the adviser, I have provided advice, information and my expert views from the sector to inform the strategy, and I have continued to do that throughout the consultation period, and even now, because there are some elements of the strategy that, without further consideration and inclusion, I think are very worrying and could be really problematic in terms of connectivity with the Home Office and international work that’s ongoing—specifically around the definition and the UN definition. I know that you heard from witnesses last week their views in terms of that, but for me—. I do understand that the definitions within the Act are the definitions within the Act, and they need to play a part in the strategy, but the UN definition is the internationally recognised definition, and without that as part of the strategy, there doesn’t seem to be anything that’s connecting the strategy. There’s nothing to link things back to. So, when we talk about FGM, forced marriage, rape, sexual violence and domestic abuse, the UN definition provides the foundation for the whole element of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and therefore the absence of that—and especially because it was included within the Right to be Safe strategy. So, Wales’s first integrated strategy was founded on the UN definition, and I am concerned how, internationally and globally, Wales would be perceived if that is not within the strategy.


[39]      I think that, in terms of the wider strategy, survivors and the views of survivors, and the recommendations that were made by survivors in terms of the recent engagement and consultation event—. Survivors were consulted so that their views could be listened to and included in the strategy. And, although there are quotes included in the strategy, the actual recommendations—and I have heard, and I have listened and I understand that some people say that 66 survivors were engaged with, and that only one of those was a man, throughout the consultation process. But, actually, on those recommendations, having worked in the sector for seven and a half years, I would challenge anybody to think that wasn’t what survivors would be speaking about. It’s around specialist, dedicated support for all survivors and children and young people. It is around raising awareness and training our public services, and it is around what community interventions are available, and it’s also around how we stop perpetrators and hold perpetrators accountable for their behaviours. If those recommendations don’t underpin our national strategy, then what message does that send to our survivors, who’ve given their time and who’ve given their recommendations, but they’re not coming out as central to our national strategy?


[40]      I think that the strategy as it currently stands isn’t specific enough. For me, it doesn’t give the strategic leadership that our Act did give, and gave that expectation and ambition. Therefore, without the specific expectations and national leadership about what are the expectations of our public services then, again, we risk that inconsistency. And yes, things need to be different on a local and regional basis, they need to respond to needs and demographics, but actually, the overarching principles need to come from our national strategy, and I think that’s why things like the commissioning guidance—and, again, I don’t have a timeline for that commissioning guidance, but I have provided some initial advice in terms of what other areas we should be looking at in terms of that guidance. But without that guidance, local, regional committees and forums that are looking to commission and public sector organisations that are looking to commission—they’re not being mandated with regard to the principles of what they commission.




[41]      Commissioning is happening now, and I think that, in terms of sustaining our specialist sector, again, that is a risk if we don’t have national principles to drive forward the commissioning. And although we’ve had other guidance come in—so, we’ve got the Lloyds Bank Foundation commissioning toolkit, which is, I feel, an excellent resource, and has been distributed to all commissioners, but that’s not statutory; it’s good practice. And I, and I don’t think Welsh Government, can mandate anybody to go to best practice resources. So, I think, in terms of some of the key messages for me around the strategy—the definition, an integrated cross-Government approach. It has to be, it can’t just be about the commitment of communities and children. It has to have cross-Government support of all Cabinet Secretaries, who actually commit to what their portfolios are going to deliver as part of the strategy. The Home Office strategy has that commitment, so why can’t ours reflect that as well? Survivors need to be central. Objectives need to be SMART. We have to have that national leadership in terms of relevant authorities and our public services. We have to have that connection and that alignment with Home Office strategy that is integral to our non-devolved organisations. And I just feel that, as it currently stands, it’s not ambitious, it’s not visionary, it’s not the expectation that we had from our Act and the expectation that we had on our Act.


[42]      Sian Gwenllian: A gaf i ofyn i chi pam rydych chi’n meddwl bod hyn wedi digwydd—pam na wrandawyd ar y cyngor roeddech chi’n ei roi? Mae’n ymddangos, beth bynnag, eich bod chi wedi bod yn cynnig argymhellion, ac yn cynnig beth ddylai fod yng nghynnwys y strategaeth, ac nid yw hynny wedi digwydd. Hefyd, mae’n ymddangos nad ydy argymhellion goroeswyr ddim yna, er eu bod nhw wedi cael eu cynnwys i raddau, ond nid yw beth roedden nhw’n ei ddweud ddim yn treiddio drwodd. Pam fod hyn wedi digwydd? Dyna fyddwn i’n hoffi ei wybod. A oes yna reswm penodol? A oedd yr amserlen yn rhy dynn ar gyfer gwneud hyn? A oedd digon o adnoddau’n cael ei roi iddo fo, yntau diffyg gweledigaeth cyffredinol? Mae’n rhaid i ni fynd i wraidd pam fod hyn wedi digwydd er mwyn helpu i’r dyfodol, mae’n debyg. Beth yw’ch barn chi am hynny?


Sian Gwenllian: Could I ask you why you think this has happened—why the advice that you gave wasn’t listened to? It seems that you did offer recommendations, and offer what should be included in the strategy, and that hasn’t happened. Also, it seems that the recommendations of survivors aren’t there, even though they have been included to an extent, but what they said hasn’t flown through. So why has this happened? That’s what I would like to know. Is there a specific reason? Was the timetable too tight for doing this? Was there not enough resources given to this? Or was this a lack of general vision? We have to get to the root of why this has happened, in order to help for the future. What’s your opinion on that?

[43]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think, firstly, the timeline. The Act was brought into force in April 2015. The expectation of the national strategy, to be published in November 2016, has always been very clear within that timeline. I understand that, within that period of time, we’ve had the small matter of Assembly elections, and the change in terms of Cabinet portfolios, and Cabinet Secretary, but, actually, both the previous Minister, and this Cabinet Secretary, have been very outspoken about their commitment to this area of work. So, I don’t think that is a factor. I think there has been considerable change within the civil servants group, who were responsible for taking the Act through, and a new team effectively now, who have taken this work forward from the end of this year. I’m not a civil servant; I don’t work within that environment, but even I have found it—. How can you expect a new team to pick up and drive this work, which I think is even more—? I suppose, in terms of why that advice then hasn’t been taken on, not only from myself, but the specialist sector, who have been key in terms of advising on this process, I don’t have that answer. I’m not privy to what happens after that advice, and I haven’t had any reasons why those are not central to our strategy.


[44]    Sian Gwenllian: Ocê, achos rwy’n deall, er enghraifft, bod cynnig gan rai o’r mudiadau i ffurfio grŵp tasg a gorffen er mwyn hwyluso’r broses, ac ni wnaeth hynny ddigwydd. Rŵan, mae yna bethau anffodus wedi digwydd yn fan hyn, ac mae’n bwysig ein bod ni’n deall a’n bod ni’n drilio lawr i weld pam fod pethau wedi mynd o chwith. Ac efallai na fedrwch chi ateb y cwestiynau i gyd, ond cawn gyfle efallai i holi’r Ysgrifennydd Cabinet. Diolch i chi am fod mor agored yn y ffordd rydych chi’n ymateb i’r cwestiynau yma. Rwy’n rhannu’r un pryder â chi, ac rwy’n meddwl bod cael y strategaeth genedlaethol yma’n glir a derbyn argymhellion y goroeswyr a pheidio â bod mewn seilo yn bwysig ofnadwy ac efallai bod angen meddwl, felly, am ohirio—nid wyf yn siŵr.


Sian Gwenllian: Okay, because I understand, for example, that there was a proposal by some organisations to form a task and finish group to facilitate this process, and that didn’t happen. Now, there are some unfortunate things that have happened here, and it’s important that we do understand and drill down to see why things have gone wrong. And perhaps you can’t answer all the questions, but we’ll have an opportunity perhaps to ask the Cabinet Secretary. Thank you for being so open in the way that you’re responding to these questions. I do share the same concerns as you, and I do think that making this national strategy clear and accepting the recommendations of survivors and not working in a silo is very important and perhaps we need to think about delaying—I’m not sure.


[45]      Rwy’n meddwl ein bod wedi sôn am y materion yr oeddem ni angen eu trafod o dan bennawd y strategaeth genedlaethol, os nad oes gennych rhywbeth arall. Mae hwn yn bwysig, onid ydy—cael hwn yn iawn?


I think that we have discussed the issues that we needed to discuss under the heading of the national strategy, unless you have something else. It is important to get this right, isn’t it?

[46]      Ms Bowen-Davies: It is absolutely vital in terms of where we are going in Wales and driving the improvements that we need to see. As it currently stands, it doesn’t reflect an understanding of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and the complexities and dynamics of that. I think, without that understanding, people then question: ‘Has that been prioritised; is that included?’ It goes back to, again, that UN definition, which provides the context, and you build upon that context and actually that knowledge and understanding derives from that definition and from that expert knowledge that you have in Wales.


[47]      John Griffiths: Okay, thank you very much. We now move to education. I think Joyce has a question.


[48]      Joyce Watson: Yes. Good morning, Rhian, and thanks for coming back again. I’m sure you’ll be here yet again. I want to ask, particularly, because education is such a critical part in everything you’ve just mentioned—so I won’t ask you to mention them all again—if you’ve got any further information about why the auditor general intends to carry out a study on how councils and their partners are tackling this issue. Do you think that’s related to education particularly, or do you not know?


[49]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think the context, from my understanding of the auditor general’s study, is that he did a consultation event at the end of last year, where he asked public services what were the key themes that were going to come up over the next couple of years, when the consultation responses were considered. Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence was one of the key considerations; so therefore, it went into the study programme for 2018-19. So, the call for evidence that has gone out recently is to further inform that study. More than that—. And of course I’ve offered my support to the auditor general in terms of looking at that work, but that’s my understanding of the timing—that this actually comes from consultation at the end of 2015.


[50]      Joyce Watson: We know that we’ve got the Donaldson review and we’re hoping that that will make a major change. Are you confident that it will make the change that we’re hoping for in terms of this agenda?


[51]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think there’s potential with the new curriculum. Combined with the other work that’s going on around education, particularly with violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, I think particularly in relation to the curriculum reform—. I sit on the stakeholder reference group for the ‘Qualified for life’ curriculum for Wales and I have met both with the officials that are leading on the curriculum reform and with the Cabinet Secretary for Education specifically around this matter, because my understanding is that education around healthy relationships and gender equality will be part of the areas of learning and experience that come out of the four purposes.


[52]      However, my further understanding is that those areas of learning and experience need to be flexible and that they can be optional for schools in terms of which of those they will adopt in terms of their approach to the curriculum. I think it’s in that flexibility and optional approach that the potential may not be realised, because that is the approach that we have at the moment in terms of our Spectrum programme, which is the Welsh Government-funded programme in schools, as well as the STAR programme that is delivered in Wales. But they are optional, so therefore, that’s very much down to the leadership of individual schools as to whether they recognise this as a priority and whether it should be delivered within the schools.


[53]      When I’ve spoken to the officials, and the Cabinet Secretary, for me, it’s critical that this is aligned with the purpose around healthy, confident individuals because we know that, in terms of primary prevention, education is absolutely critical, but for those children and young people who are already experiencing violence and abuse at home, it’s also critical that they’re identified and can be signposted for support. I just think that links with education, as you rightly point out, are so intrinsic, not only for the curriculum, but the national training framework and how that relates to schools, and I haven’t seen any evidence of how that is being picked up yet in terms of schools specifically. But also in terms of the good practice guidance, the review of resources that has happened, and also the resource that we are expected that has been developed by children and young people—so, both with Welsh Women’s Aid and the children’s commissioner. There are resources there to support schools, but, as my written evidence says, I don’t know how they’ve been distributed, with what expectations, how they’re going to be monitored, and, therefore, for me, there is a danger that a lot of work can go into developing a programme with the specialist sector that could fit into those areas of learning, but, actually, unless that is mandated to be delivered as part of the wider curriculum, then, actually, that’s going to be inconsistent and potentially not have the impact that we’re looking for.


[54]      Joyce Watson: I know that there are schools at the moment that invite some providers into their schools to deliver packages, and I know that I’ve invited schools for years now to take part in in the White Ribbon Campaign, and some have, and one in Llanelli particularly really took it to heart. And the point I’m making here is that it was because those teachers—the headteacher and the deputy head—felt comfortable doing that, and they felt able to support the young children who would undoubtedly disclose that there were issues, and I think that’s going to lead me to my next question, because that will happen. There is no question, if you raise an issue with young people, they will say, ‘That’s my life’, and they might, up until that point, have thought it was a normal life and that everybody else’s life was like that, and then they realise maybe it’s not.


[55]      So, my next question, leading on through education, is about, I suppose, two things. You can put it on the curriculum, and you can let young people, rightly, know that it isn’t how their life should be, but then you’ve got to protect those children and move in pretty quickly at the same time. So, how do you see those two things working effectively? In the case that I’ve just said, I know they were working effectively. And how do you think, then, we ought to, because there’s a whole training element here, backfill that training element for teachers?


[56]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think you’re absolutely right in terms of, if a whole-education and a whole-school approach is adopted, then there will  undoubtedly be disclosures, and not only from pupils, I feel, but also from staff who are in that school as well. I think that’s why it would be critical that the policy that surrounds that in terms of safeguarding—and we know that schools already have the safeguarding policies and procedures in place, and this should already be embedded within those policies and procedures. If there is a child at risk, or if there’s a child in need of safeguarding, that should be done through the safeguarding process anyway. But I think that it has to be that whole approach.




[57]      We are awaiting the evaluation of the Spectrum programme, but I think the good practice guide gives that whole perspective, so it is around having the policy, it is around having support of the leadership, it is around staff having that training. In the two pilot areas that are looking at training specifically, education is not included in those, so I’m not sure how, actually, this is going to be rolled out. But in terms of the reporting requirements that are within the Act in terms of sections 9 and 10, then, actually, education will have to report on this and, actually, what support is being given to education to actually embed this now through the pioneer schools, for example? And I haven’t seen any evidence of this being delivered in pioneer schools. I know that there was really good work done in some schools as part of the good practice guidance and as part of their leadership identifying that it was really important. I don’t have evidence of that happening in pioneer schools. That may be something that education officials may have. Again, it’s about integrating it. It’s not about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual abuse being siloed when we think about education. It’s so connected with other things around gender equality, around respect, around consent, and around relationships. I think there are real opportunities to integrate this into programmes that would be developed mandatorily within schools. You heard last week from witnesses. I think the danger with it being within areas of learning and experience, which I understand are not being developed in any detail until this autumn—if they’re optional, then we could be no better off than what we are at the moment. Without our specialist sector there to support schools, again, the role of the specialist sector is critical to ensuring that that education approach is maximised.


[58]      John Griffiths: Okay. Jenny.


[59]      Jenny Rathbone: I just wanted to pick up on something you said earlier about the fact that if it is not in the national strategy, schools may choose not to do it. I just want to question you: why wouldn’t schools want to do it, given the problems they’re already grappling with? Revenge porn is a problem across all secondary schools. They are all having to try and grapple with it in one way or another. So, that, surely, is an alert for them that they have got to be dealing with this in the round.


[60]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think I would ask, if that was the case, then why is it not being done now? The resources are there, and lots of schools are in contact with the specialist sector. So, if this has been identified—. The issue is that it is not consistent. So, you will have schools in some areas that really get this, therefore their children and young people are having the opportunity to learn about healthy relationships and equality and actually be signposted to it through experiences. But there could be children and young people in the same area who go to a different school who won’t have that. For me, it’s really important that every child and young person has that opportunity to have those messages.


[61]      Jenny Rathbone: So, in shaping the strategy that schools should adopt, how much do you think this needs to be a top-down approach, and how much should it be shared learning from good practice within the school sector? There are lots of good things going on, but, I agree, it’s not consistent.


[62]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think that good practice is definitely there, which is why the good practice guide was developed. I think that, with the development of the resources toolkit, it gives even more practical usage to schools to use. I think there could be an element of concern from schools around when they start talking about these matters: how are teachers supposed to respond, and how can they best support the children and young people? They possibly don’t have the support mechanisms in place with the specialist sector at the moment, for example. When you speak about resources for releasing teachers for training, how is that going to happen? What is the practicality for teaching staff and non-teaching staff to engage with the national training framework? That’s a considerable resource expectation, and, yet, without that training and awareness, teachers may not have the confidence or the knowledge to respond to disclosures, or even to ask those questions within schools. So, I think there is a balance. I think it needs to come from leadership, nationally, as well as within the education sector—so, at a local and regional level—that this is important—they may well have reporting requirements, and they are going to have something to report on—and that the concerns and experiences of teachers and non-teaching staff are also listened to in terms of how best to integrate this. That’s my understanding of the approach with the curriculum reform—that the pioneering schools are looking at the learning that’s available and the good practice. There’s that opportunity there; I’ve just not seen that happening to date.


[63]      John Griffiths: Okay. I think we’ll have to move on now to the role of the national adviser itself, Rhian. I think, Sian, you have a question.


[64]      Sian Gwenllian: Mae yna rywfaint o bryder nad ydych chi, fel cynghorydd, yn gallu ymwneud yn llawn â gweithrediad y Ddeddf. Beth ydy eich ymateb chi i hynny?

Sian Gwenllian: There is some concern that you aren’t, as an adviser, able to be involved fully with the implementation of the Act.  What’s your response to that?

[65]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think my written evidence supports that in terms of—. This is a part-time adviser role and that was made very clear in terms of the Act and also the recruitment process. But I still felt that the role had real potential to support and work alongside Ministers, Government and other public services to actually deliver the changes that were needed. I think that, in practice, the reality of being able to do that within three days when there is a demand for the national adviser to be sitting alongside regions as they transition to regional arrangements—what their needs assessments are going to look like and what their strategy is going to look like—and I absolutely think that it’s the adviser’s role to be there, to be providing that informed perspective, but in three days it’s very difficult to do that. It’s not just the three days to do that: we’ve all had to travel around Wales and know the travelling time that that requires, and with the best diary management in the world—.


[66]      I have raised that point in terms of capacity and solutions have been explored, and there was the offer and the provision of the part-time support of a civil servant. But, as I said in my written evidence, I am very aware, therefore, of what I would want that individual and allow that individual to support me with, because, actually, the independence of my role is absolutely critical to me. Therefore, there is that balance. The administrative support that releases some of my three days a week is really helpful and welcome, but to deliver the potential of this role, and I do think it has huge potential, then the infrastructure to support this role, the capacity of the role, the resources that are applied to this role—. Actually, now that we are 18 months into the Act, I think it’s the right time to consider those and the right time to be able to say, ‘Did we get that right?’, and to reflect and, actually, if things need to change to be able to change them. I think that’s far more productive for Wales than actually maintaining an adviser role on three days a week, when these things have been raised, and not deliver the potential of the role.


[67]      Sian Gwenllian: Felly, rydych chi wedi gorfod blaenoriaethu o fewn yr amser cyfyng sydd gennych chi ac rydych wedi gorfod tynnu ochr y gweithrediad i lawr y rhestr blaenoriaethau mewn ffordd—agwedd gweithrediad y Ddeddf—ac rydych chi wedi blaenoriaethu’r ochr strategol a’r ochr gweithio efo rhanbarthau, fel yr ydych wedi dweud, i rolio’r Ddeddf allan yn hytrach na’i gweithrediad?


Sian Gwenllian: So, you have had to prioritise within the limited time that you have and you’ve had to put the implementation side further down your list of priorities in a way—the implementation of the Act—and you have prioritised the strategic side and the element of working with the regions, as you’ve said, to roll out the Act rather than its implementation?


[68]      Ms Bowen-Davies: I think the adviser role itself, in terms of advising Ministers and others, is something that I have proactively done. But I think, in terms of some of the other requirements of the adviser role, in terms of research and in terms of reports, then, actually, being able to look at when is the right time to do that and what resources could be made available to even do that—. I’m very conscious that being independent in my views, my perspective and my advice, when I look at my annual plan, there are differences there as to what nationally may be priorities. And, therefore, without resources, how can some of that work be driven forward when, actually, there are no resources allocated to the adviser?


[69]      Sian Gwenllian: Sut fyddai Llywodraeth Cymru yn gallu cosbi unrhyw awdurdod perthnasol sy’n torri rhwymedigaethau’r Ddeddf? Pa bwerau sydd yna ar gyfer hynny a beth ydy’ch rôl chi yn hynny?

Sian Gwenllian: How would the Welsh Government be able to penalise any relevant authority that breaches the obligations of the Act? What powers are there for that and what is your role in that?


[70]      Ms Bowen-Davies continues: The Act itself doesn’t provide any of those enforcement powers, and in terms of the adviser role in that, the adviser can ask for information but there are no sanctions or enforcements that the adviser could put into place if that information wasn’t provided, or indeed if the adviser felt that a relevant authority was not complying with the requirements of the Act. I think that that was something that was raised when the Bill was going through its progress, in terms of, ‘Where are the teeth to the Act?’ So, we’re asking for local strategies. We’ll have the statutory guidance, but actually, if relevant authorities weren’t to actually comply, what would those steps be? We have our first timeline quickly approaching in terms of 31 March. All relevant authorities are expected to have submitted the training needs analysis for the national training framework. So, actually, if those are not produced by 31 March, what will those responses be? I don’t know.


[71]      John Griffiths: Okay. Well, thank you very much for your evidence, Rhian. That brings us to the end of this evidence-taking session. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy. Thank you very much for coming along today.


[72]      Ms Bowen-Davies: Diolch yn fawr.


[73]      John Griffiths: Okay. The committee will break until 10:30.


Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:11 a 10:29.
The meeting adjourned between 10:11 and 10:29.


Ymchwiliad Ôl-ddeddfwriaethol i Ddeddf Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol (Cymru) 2015:
Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 6
Post-legislative Inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: Evidence Session 6


[74]      John Griffiths: Okay. May I welcome Members back after our break? We move into evidence session 6 in our post-legislative inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. I’d like to welcome Carl Sargent, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, and Martin Swain, deputy director of community safety with the Welsh Government.   




[75]      We’ll start off, Cabinet Secretary, with implementation of the Act. I’ll begin by asking whether or not you would agree with some of the claims we’ve heard that the implementation of the Act has been a missed opportunity to radically change the approach of public authorities in Wales.


[76]      The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children (Carl Sargeant): Thank you, Chair, and good morning to committee. That’s an interesting opening comment, Chair. I probably wouldn’t agree with you in terms of those comments. What I would suggest is that the Act is novel; it’s a new piece of legislation that introduces a very different way of working across the public sector and I think it’s an exciting opportunity. But also, it’s been challenging. I don’t say it’s a missed opportunity, because we aren’t in that space, actually, we’re working towards delivering a very, very effective Act with collaboration across the public sector. This is a piece of groundbreaking legislation that is going to have challenges in the way it’s set up, but I recognise that the teams are doing some incredible work out in the field. Working together, across organisations—public, third sector organisations—does present opportunities but also challenges.


[77]      John Griffiths: In terms of progress, then, Cabinet Secretary, over the last 20 months, could you tell the committee your view as to the adequacy of that progress over that period of time?


[78]      Carl Sargeant: I think the implementation is starting to bed down. I suppose the best thing for me to do is share with you the difficult bits and you can assume from that that the other bits are reasonably good. The thing that I see as challenging: finances are always challenging, but that’s because of the settlements we get. Having a long-term, sustainable financial settlement for the sector is a difficult one. Although I’m working with the sector now and this isn’t a different situation to what we were in three years ago prior to the Act; finance was always going to be difficult. We’re trying to understand what a sustainable financial model for the sector is.


[79]      The implementation of elements of the Act around training is ongoing. I think, again, as I said, we’re going beyond what the Act says, so we’re starting to train in housing associations and that’s not in the Act, but it’s been adopted by other organisations seeing that this is a positive document, a positive intervention. So, progress has been a challenge, but we are getting there.


[80]      One of the time frames that I’m struggling with is the implementation of the strategy. It says in the Act about delivering this six months post election. I think, in hindsight, that’s far too quick; I think we need a little bit—. To do this better, I think it would be much more effective if we had more time to do that. I don’t want to put a strategy out that could be better, based on the time frame that we are legislated for. So, those are the warts-and-all of what I see the challenges are with the Act. But, in general, we’re in a relatively good position and it’s starting to do the job that we expected it to do.


[81]      John Griffiths: Does that mean, then, Cabinet Secretary that you intend to delay the publication of the final national strategy?


[82]      Carl Sargeant: Well, unfortunately, I can’t, because the legislation says that I must publish it. But I’ve spoken with my team and I do intend to publish a document, but with the knowledge that I intend to publish an overall strategy, but with a delivery plan underneath that, and I think the detail gives us a bit more flexibility, then, for the delivery end of this to be within the delivery plan. So, I’ve got no choice. I had considered delaying the strategy, but I just can’t; the legal provisions in the Act don’t allow me to do so.


[83]      John Griffiths: Could you share with the committee, then, Cabinet Secretary, what your understanding is of the legal consequences of not publishing the national strategy in line with the timings in the Act?


[84]      Carl Sargeant: I can give the committee a note in terms of that, but effectively, I’m breaching legislation and I can’t be in the position to do that. But, I’m happy to give the legal definition in letter form to the Chair. It is something that I have considered and it just puts me, as a Minister, at risk. I can’t breach legislation.


[85]      John Griffiths: We’ve heard the view from more than one evidence giver to this inquiry, Cabinet Secretary, that, in their view, it’s more important to get it right in terms of that national strategy than it is to get it published on time, if it were a choice between those two things. So, I think the committee hears what you say about the legal requirements, but, in terms of what you said about perhaps a high-level, overarching national strategy and then a more detailed delivery plan, are you confident that those two together will achieve that getting-it-right that’s obviously so important?


[86]      Carl Sargeant: Yes, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to explain. I had the same concerns that delivering a strategy that wasn’t ready or wasn’t detailed enough could be troublesome. That’s why, I believe, we can deliver a very high-level, overarching, principle strategy that meets the legislation requirements, but actually the detail of delivery will be in the delivery plan underneath that. I think that’s a way of getting through the legal challenge on not delivering the strategy at the appropriate time.


[87]      In hindsight, looking back now, the timeline for creating the strategy within six months is just too tight. Maybe that is something the committee might want to advise me on, or reflect on, in terms of modifications of the Act in the future. But I think it’s just a time frame that is challenging.


[88]      John Griffiths: Okay, thanks for that. Jenny.


[89]      Jenny Rathbone: Are you saying that, therefore—? It’s after every general election, so, in five years’ time, there will need to be another six months, but surely it’s not so challenging once you’ve got a strategy in place and local or regional plans—it’s not going to be a revolution, whatever is produced by an incoming Government.


[90]      Carl Sargeant: Of course, and I think you’re right in terms of, every general election, the strategy has to be redeveloped. Now, there are a couple of considerations there. One is, if it’s a consistent Government, then there probably wouldn’t be much change in that process. Once you’ve done it once, you’re, hopefully, in the right space, and you just continue that process. But, if you’re starting from scratch, which we are, this is a new piece—. Maybe subtle drafting of the legislation should have given a period of time a little bit longer to start the first one, but I think this six-month period for developing this, with a new Government and a new piece of legislation, has been extremely challenging for the team. I want to get this right, and that’s why the flexibility I have now is to deliver a broad strategy, but with a delivery plan underneath. That’s my way that we can get through this.


[91]      Jenny Rathbone: So, with that proviso, you think you’ll be able to get it right, using the delivery plan for the detail.


[92]      Carl Sargeant: I have come to this portfolio with good intent of getting this right. I could put a strategy out that people don’t like, and the delivery plan—I can tick the boxes if you wish. But I have a genuine interest in this, and I want to make sure this is right. I could say to committee, ‘The strategy’s fine’, but I know that it’s challenging, and I think that is partly because of the timescales we have to develop that.


[93]      One of the issues is consultation. One is about information sharing from the sector. There’s just not enough time to do that.


[94]      Jenny Rathbone: In terms of the challenges around financing, which are challenging over the piece, what consideration have you given to amalgamating the training and needs assessment elements of this Act with the social services Act and the future generations Act? Because that’s something that’s been put to us by various witnesses.


[95]      Carl Sargeant: I think it’s too early to consider that. I think there is a tendency to chase money where there are pockets of finance. I am more interested in trying to understand the needs of communities and how we have a sustainable funding model for that. I’ve, over the summer, refreshed the advisory board that advises the Minister—I’ve strengthened that with not just domestic violence and sexual violence professionals; I’ve also got some finance professionals on there so that I understand that. For a long time—. It’s not sector driven, either. It’s typical, but, particularly, I understand the importance of this service. We’ve had a long discussion about sustainable funding models. I’ve asked the sector, ‘What does that mean?’ And, if I’m honest, they’re struggling, too, in terms of trying to understand what that means. So, I’m going to be tasking the advisory group to look at service provision and, hopefully, a sustainable funding model that we can all work to and agree. I think it’s a really important principle—‘What are the services that we want to provide and how are we going to deliver on those?’—rather than a shopping list and, hopefully, the money’s there.


[96]      Jenny Rathbone: No, no, no. I think that’s not really what I was focusing on nor, I think, the witnesses, because financing it means resources, and resources are people. The report from the coalface is that statutory bodies are having to get to grips with the requirements of all three Acts and do the day job, if you like. So, what they’re saying is it’s going to be extremely difficult to release people in sufficient numbers to do separate training. What do you think about the practicalities of that? This isn’t about chasing money; this is about actually how we manage to deliver this without people falling over.


[97]      Carl Sargeant: I’m sorry, I misunderstood your question. I think there are very specific elements of the Act that require very specialist services. So, I think there is a—. Again, the advisory group—I’m really interested to understand, from the front end, from survivors and from people delivering services, operationally, how this best works. I think for far too long Governments have always said to people, to organisations, ‘This is how we want you to do this,’ rather than saying, ‘Actually, this is the way it works better.’ So, if there are opportunities with the WFG Act or with the social services and well-being Act, I’m more than happy for them to tag on to that process. But there are things like the ‘ask and act’ programme, which is very specific training, that don’t lend themselves to either of the other elements or other parts of legislation. But I think there possibly could be synergies.


[98]      These will be peer-reviewed by my advisory group, because I’ve come into this portfolio with historic knowledge, but, actually, I’m really excited about opportunity, as well. So, I’m starting to glean back—the FG Act has helped me look at problem solving in a very different way, so it’s a solution-based approach from the sector and people, as opposed to Government solution. So, often, when I meet people now, I say, ‘Don’t come to me with a problem. What’s the solution as well?’ That’s a very tough question for some people, because, generally, they think the solution is money. I don’t agree with them in most cases. But I think it’s really important that we understand what we’re trying to deliver here and how do we do that, and people on the front line are the best people to do that generally.


[99]      Jenny Rathbone: Your national adviser, whom we’ve just heard from, is quite clear that there is a real danger that, as we increase the number of people who are reporting domestic violence, we have a shortage of facilities to cope with them. How do we get around that whilst everybody’s learning how to implement the Act? One of the ways in which she pointed to was the substance misuse strategy, which has a lot of joined-up governance and joined-up budgets across the different organisations that are relevant.


[100]   Carl Sargeant: I agree with her. I think the reporting structures—we’ve seen a significant increase. We’re in a very different space from where we were five—very much different from 10 years ago, where reporting of DV is becoming the norm. People are accepting that this happens and reporting. We must have a pathway through that. We’ve got some programmes already that we are integrating with health and our department; I’m looking at the financial model. As I said earlier, I’m really interested in making sure my advisory group can get a handle on this, so we’re already looking at the financial work streams that we’ve got in Government, about how they link up, because I’ve got Supporting People with funding for domestic violence. I’ve also got the domestic violence portfolio, and I’ve got finance there. How do we link these up? How do we link these up with other departments as well so that we get best value?




[101]   You’ll have heard me talking about adverse childhood experiences in my communities brief—it’s general—and one of the ACEs is around domestic violence. So, that’s an incident that has a long-term impact on people. So, I’m looking again, through Flying Start, Families First, at what we do in this space. That’s why the piece of work that the advisory group will do for me is about looking at that shopping list of services process and then the financial model underneath that and how do they link in. So, we are thinking very differently: rather than a silo approach to a service, who delivers what, where, better and how can we integrate with that, or do we not do that and let somebody else do that, and we finance them for it? So, I think there’s a new approach to service delivery, which I’m really interested in, and this Act and the FG Act are pieces of legislation that lend themselves really well to a different direction of service. But the big problem of different models of service is change, because people don’t like that. 


[102]   John Griffiths: Okay. Joyce, I think you have a question in this area.


[103]   Joyce Watson: [Inaudible.]—on change. I think the biggest change, Minister, here, is that everybody has to own this, whoever they are, if they’re in contact with people. And it goes back to the financing. That being the case, they also have to own a little bit of the financing of their responsibility. So, I’m trying to come back to this question: if we take health, we know that they have to train their front-line professionals to, first of all, identify violence against women in all its forms, and then report it and then pass it on. So, in terms of the financing argument that we’re seeing, are you finding that there is recognition in the wider community that provides services that they all have a part to play, both in recognising, then solving, but also financing?


[104]   Carl Sargeant: I think, across Government and the public sector, and the private sector—so the registered social landlords in that space as well—we have regular conversations about what do we do, and it’s an interesting concept that RSLs, actually, they do much more than just build homes, they build communities and they have resilient communities. We’ve got some great RSLs out there that are doing some great work on domestic violence. I think what we’re all starting to understand is about people and pathways to people. So, the early intervention and prevention message of early identification solves financial problems in the longer term. One of the problems is we’re doing the day job as well. So, trying to move into the space of prevention and early intervention is generational. So, we’ll start to see an impact in 10 or 15 years’ time, perhaps, in terms of what we do today in a positive way, but we’ve still got to deal with people here and now as well. So, it’s balancing the model of funding about how we do that.


[105]   I spoke to all my Cabinet colleagues and health are absolutely on board, but, with the pressures within the system as it is, moving resources to a prevent approach is challenging, but we are doing that, and this is just one example of where other organisations see that their investment, perhaps in the housing division, not as bricks and mortar, but as doing a community resilience exercise, has a huge benefit for their community and organisation long term. So, yes, people are in a different space. And, as I said earlier, from five years ago or 10 years, particularly, the whole sector has moved on significantly in terms of knowledge, influence, and the opportunities that they see. But, also, the negative—the indirect consequence of the positivity of a campaign or intervention is that you get more people coming through the system, so there is a cost in that. So, that’s why you’ve got to change the culture and shift the feeds coming through. We’ve got to move it to a place where this is just not acceptable and this just doesn’t happen. But we are moving to that place, I think.


[106]   John Griffiths: Okay. Rhianon.


[107]   Rhianon Passmore: Firstly, I’d like to welcome very much the principles that underpin the national strategy, and I think we need to recognise that that is innovative, before we move on, but how will this national strategy now be changed in terms of the concerns that have been highlighted? And, secondly, you’ve mentioned that you’ve tasked the refreshed advisory board—what timescales will they be working forward in terms of the delivery plan?


[108]   Carl Sargeant: Okay. The discussion we had earlier about the strategy is challenging, because I do understand also—. I’ve had correspondence and discussions with people in the sector who have concerns still with the draft strategy. I think, in most of the concerns that are raised by external bodies, I believe it’s an interpretation of what the draft strategy says currently. I think we can work through, with them, about what that means, and I think there are many things that we’ll be able to iron out. I’m confident we can do that. If I can’t change the strategy because we’re time prohibited, what I do commit to is looking at the delivery plan on how we can implement the issues that are raised within the delivery elements of this, within the delivery plan. I am committed to doing that, and I genuinely am wishing to work with the sector. I don’t underestimate their knowledge, and I don’t underestimate their commitment, and I think, actually, they’re the professionals and we should use them. So, the strategy may disappoint some, partly on a time issue, partly on an interpretation issue, but I actually think we can get through that. If we collectively have a vision of what we’re trying to achieve here, I don’t think it’s not sustainable through a delivery plan either.


[109]   Rhianon Passmore: So, in terms of the changes that you envisage by either extending that timescale, or not, in terms of the—


[110]   Carl Sargeant: Not in the strategy. I’m tied in with the strategy. I will present the committee with a legal note, but in terms of the strategy, we are tied to deliver that, and it won’t be perfect for some people, of course it won’t, if it can ever be perfect. But what I can do, and I will commit to this committee, and to the sector, is: through the delivery programme, we will look at—. That gives us more flexibility for change, and, actually, sometimes, the more detail that’s in the strategy, it ties you down. This is a moving feast. Technology is moving. There are interventions moving forward. We’ve got to get that right. So, I think the delivery plan is somewhere where we can have some more flexibility, a little bit more time, more consultation, and more involvement from the sector. I’m going to seek more advice from my advisory panel, so that we get the delivery element of this absolutely right. And I’m hoping to publish that probably early/mid next year, and that will give us enough space to be able to understand better the quality of services that’s required, including the funding model that’s needed for the long term.


[111]   Rhianon Passmore: Okay. So, outside of the funding model, at this stage, and at this point in the conversation, there’s been criticism that the delivery plan wasn’t consulted upon alongside the strategy. So, is there a concept of what needs to be different within the delivery plan at this stage, without—


[112]   Carl Sargeant: Yes. I’m new to the post and I’m committed to delivering—. Look, sometimes we don’t always get things right, on both sides, whether that’s Government or third sector, or other bodies. Where there is challenge in the system, I think we should address that, and I’m very open and honest with the sector, and I say ‘If there are problems, if you perceive problems, then let’s get around the table and sort this out’. I’m tied into legislation, so that’s the difficult bit, but that’s where I see the delivery plan as giving me opportunity to make amendments, to make some changes. And I hope that they can see my commitment to doing that. I just think the legislation is a framework, but the six-month challenge of developing the strategy has thrown up some issues.


[113]   Rhianon Passmore: I think that’s quite clear. In terms of national indicators, as outlined within the Act, would you envisage that the delivery plan is the vehicle or the mechanism for tying in that?


[114]   Carl Sargeant: Well, I—


[115]   John Griffiths: Cabinet Secretary, before you answer that, I wonder if you could also tell the committee about the status of the delivery plan, because, obviously, the delivery plan is going to be very important, in terms of whether it’s statutory and whether it’s part of the national strategy officially. What will the status be of that delivery plan?


[116]   Carl Sargeant: Martin will give you the legal definition of that, if that’s okay, but the principle of—. We’re in development of the delivery plan, but, as I said to you earlier on, Chair, I’m in a different space to previous administrations in terms of where we want to see this moving to. The future generations Act has been an important principle-setting tool for me and I believe that we should be looking from a bottom-up approach of policy development. That’s why, subject to the legal framework of me being allowed to do this, I want to get as much advice in from the sector—from advisers and professionals—in terms of shaping the way that we do business, with the understanding that there is a financial framework that we operate within too. So, it’s not a case of, ‘We present you with a list of things that we think are the services that are required, and you need to find the money to deliver that.’ The discussion will be: what are the services that we can provide and need within the financial framework that we can deliver and can we make that sustainable? I think that’s a different conversation than we’ve had in the past. We’ve tended to, as I said, deliver services. I’m saying to the sector, ‘What is it we need here?’ But, there’s a lot of self-interest and there are some organisations that will not willingly want to change funding models, but we’ve got to have that conversation and that’s why I think it’s really important that we drive that from within the sector. You own this, and Joyce Watson was absolutely right: I can’t, on my own—and, as a Government, we cannot—change cultural shift to a place where domestic violence doesn’t happen. It’s got to be owned by communities and by people. That’s the only way we’ll do that. I think the sector have an important part to play and that’s why they should be in that development process of the policy as well—and I’m in that space.


[117]   John Griffiths: Martin, did you want to tell us what status the delivery plan will have?


[118]   Mr Swain: I think we’ve got options, Chair. The Act would allow us to issue statutory guidance, so we could issue guidance in terms of a delivery plan. The intention is that the delivery plan sets out what services we want to see and how we want them to be delivered, which, in our view, would make a strategy far too clunky, so we want it separated out. If the view in discussion is that it’s actually better to make that statutory guidance, then the Act will allow us to do it. The only issue there is that it creates a little less flexibility. So, if we have a delivery plan that we could flex quite easily with our partners—. And I think, certainly, I’ve been talking to every local authority about where we’re taking this agenda, and their view is, ‘Give us as much flexibility as you can. We understand the statutory framework, but give us flexibility to be able to move and shift services’. So, it would be something that we could discuss, but we’ve got the ability to do it.


[119]   Rhianon Passmore: So, would that include the national indicators?


[120]   Mr Swain: National indicators come afterwards and that’s a requirement in the Act.


[121]   Rhianon Passmore: Yes, exactly.


[122]   Mr Swain: The sequencing of this is: the national strategy sets out Welsh Ministers’ objectives; the delivery plan gives a clear indication to our partners in the sector what types of services we want to see in future to support the delivery of the Act and how we want to see them delivered, which includes some of the stuff around training. The national indicators would then set out how we would measure success in terms of how well we’re doing and then the next part of the sequence is the needs assessment by local authorities and health boards and their local plans in 2018. So, that’s the sequence of steps from the Act.


[123]   John Griffiths: Okay. Sian.


[124]   Sian Gwenllian: Cyn inni symud i ffwrdd o’r strategaeth genedlaethol, rwy’n meddwl ei fod yn bwysig inni graffu’n ddyfnach ar rai o’r agweddau a beth sydd wedi mynd o’i le, mewn gwirionedd. Rwy’n cytuno efo chi fod gennym ni Ddeddf flaengar fan hyn, ond rydym mewn peryg gwirioneddol o golli cyfle ac rwy’n gweld bod ein strategaeth ddrafft, fel y mae hi ar hyn o bryd, yn sicr angen ei diwygio. Pam bod hyn wedi digwydd? Pam nad ydy’r strategaeth, fel mae o—? Yn eich geiriau chi, mi allai fod yn well. Beth sydd wedi mynd o’i le? Pam na dderbyniwyd argymhellion goroeswyr? Pam na dderbyniwyd cyngor y cynghorydd annibynnol wrth lunio’r strategaeth? Pam na dderbyniwyd y cynnig ar gyfer grŵp tasg a gorffen, a ddaeth gan rai o’r mudiadau trydydd sector, i helpu i greu’r strategaeth? Rwyf yn meddwl ei bod hi’n bwysig inni fel pwyllgor ddallt beth sydd wedi mynd o’i le fan hyn er mwyn dysgu gwersi i’r dyfodol. Rydych chi’n dweud eich bod chi’n mynd i drio cyhoeddi strategaeth efallai na fydd y math o strategaeth y byddwn ni’n hapus efo fo, ond eich bod chi yn mynd i drio cyhoeddi strategaeth. Wel, mi fyddwn i’n pwysleisio’r angen brys i geisio cael y strategaeth yna mor gadarn ac mor addas i’w phwrpas â phosibl o dan yr amgylchiadau rŵan, neu rydym ni mewn perygl o golli ffydd a cholli cyfle gwirioneddol efo’r Ddeddf.


Sian Gwenllian: Before we move on from this issue of the national strategy, I do think that it’s important for us to drill down in more detail on some of the aspects of the strategy and what has gone wrong. I agree with you that we have a very progressive Act here, but we are in danger of losing an opportunity and I see that the draft strategy, as it currently stands, certainly needs to be amended. So, why has this happened? Why isn’t the strategy, as it stands—? In your own words, it could be better. What has gone wrong? Why weren’t the recommendations of survivors accepted? Why wasn’t the advice of the independent adviser accepted in putting together the strategy? Why wasn’t the proposal for a task and finish group, suggested by some of the third sector organisations, accepted to help create a strategy? I do think that it’s important for us as a committee to understand what has gone wrong here so that we can learn lessons for the future. You do say that you’re going to try to publish a strategy that perhaps won’t be the kind of strategy that we would be content with, but you’re going to try to publish a strategy. Well, I would emphasise the urgent need to try to ensure that that strategy is as robust and as fit for purpose as possible under the circumstances, or we’ll be in danger of losing faith and losing a genuine opportunity with this Act.



[125]   Carl Sargeant: Thank you, Sian, for your question. I don’t perceive it as a missed opportunity or a failure in any way. I think, actually, we look at this—. You made some general comments about how the system has failed and, you know, we’ve got to where we are. That’s your view, perhaps, but it’s not mine. We did have survivors’ voices listened to within the implementation of the draft strategy. We did listen to the national adviser, and the national adviser and the advisory panel are part of that process in terms of developing that. Now, I also have seen correspondence where there is disappointment from the sector that there aren’t specific elements that they informed us on in terms of shaping the draft strategy. That is a matter still to have further discussions with the organisations and with the advisory group, and that’s why, over the summer period, I refreshed my delivery group—I’ve added more people into that to give me solid advice on what should be taken forward.


[126]   I’ve been very open with you this morning about saying about the draft strategy that it could be better and, under the time constraints of the Act, I am duty-bound to publish a strategy. Now, I could publish this strategy—in fact, I’ve even considered doing this—as a one page, overarching principle of what this strategy may or may not be, a ‘principles of Government’, but, actually, I think we can do a little bit better than that and put in more detail in, but I’m bound by the time, and I’ve been open about that. I think the resolve of this is that the details of the delivery plan can resolve the issues that the third sector organisations or members of the advisory panel still have concerns about—they can be addressed in the process. But I don’t accept that the development of the strategy has been a disaster by any means.


[127]   Sian Gwenllian: Nid wyf yn meddwl fy mod i wedi defnyddio’r gair ‘trychinebus’ o gwbl. Rwy’n cytuno â’ch diffiniad chi: mi fuasai’n gallu bod yn well, ac rwyf i jest yn trio ffeindio allan beth ydy’r broblem. Rydych chi wedi dweud bod yna ddiffyg amser, ac, iawn, efallai bod hynny’n rhywbeth, yn sicr, i edrych arno fo o ran bod rhywun yn cynnwys digon o amser y tro nesaf, felly. Ond, mi wnaeth y cynghorydd annibynnol siarad â ni y bore yma, ac roedd hi’n gweld problem yn y ffaith syml, mewn ffordd, fod dau dîm wedi bod yn gweithio ar hwn. Roedd yna dîm o weision sifil yn gweithio ar y mater, ac mae’r tîm yna yn dîm gwahanol erbyn hyn, ac roedd hi’n gweld hynny fel problem yn y ffordd y datblygwyd y strategaeth. A ydych chi wedi holi ymhellach ynglŷn â beth yn union sydd wedi mynd o’i le efo creu strategaeth sydd yn ddigon robust?


Sian Gwenllian: I don’t think I used the word ‘disaster’ at all. I agree with your definition: it could be better, and I'm just trying to find out what the problem is. You said that there is a lack of time, and, fine, perhaps that's something, certainly, that could be considered, in that somebody could include enough time the next time, so that these things could be done. But, the independent adviser spoke to us this morning, and she saw a problem in the simple fact that two teams have been working on this. There was a team of civil servants working on this matter, and that team is now a different team since the election, and she said that that was a problem in the way that the strategy has been developed. Have you made further enquiries into what exactly has gone wrong with creating a strategy that is robust enough?

[128]   Carl Sargeant: Well, you’re making the assumption that I think the strategy is a bad strategy or a—


[129]   Sian Gwenllian: No; ‘could be better’ were your words.


[130]   Carl Sargeant: Yes, and I think it could.


[131]   Sian Gwenllian: So, if it could be better, what’s gone wrong?


[132]   Carl Sargeant: The issue, as I said earlier on, is a time frame for me. I think we need some more time to articulate the issues of change needed within the strategy, but I’m just running out of time. Because, in the conversations between the advisory group, the sector and ourselves, the time frame just hasn’t lent itself to the development of this. This is a very complex process, and I’m sure you understand that, but a six-month period just doesn’t help.


[133]   With regard to the national adviser’s position, the national adviser is there to advise me. So, I’m a little bit taken aback. The fact is that the national adviser, outside of the forum where she would advise me, is telling me that she is not able to advise me, if that’s what you’re suggesting.


[134]   Sian Gwenllian: No, I’m not suggesting that at all. What I’m saying is that she told us this morning that she had actually advised you about the strategy, but she seems to think that that advice hasn’t been incorporated into the strategy. The same with the victims and the organisations from the third sector. They feel that, yes, there has been some consultation, but their actual recommendations haven’t come through in the strategy. You’ve got an opinion about the strategy, but the overwhelming opinion that we’ve heard here in committee, from a vast array of different people involved in this area, is that the strategy is not good enough. And that is holding back the whole process because, without a robust national strategy, you can’t then develop the local strategies, and the whole thing is losing momentum and we are in danger of going backwards with what was an innovative Act that we were all proud to see when it was passed. So, there is frustration out there, and I share that frustration, having heard lots of evidence from lots of different quarters, and they’re all saying the same thing.


[135]   Carl Sargeant: They’re a very strong sector and long may it last, in terms of the way that they operate. They’re a very good, solid body of people that does give me advice. But I don’t see it in a negative way—that this is prohibitive to making the changes that we need to do. I think the strategy is one document that is important. I’ve been saying to you this morning that the challenges within that document aren’t insurmountable in terms of other opportunities that we have within that. My personal view, with ministerial responsibility—and I have said this to the team very clearly—is that we have to involve people more.


[136]   We have a strategy. Some like it and some don’t. But I think the process that I’ve put in place over the summer period is to show that we have an engagement process that is robust enough to give me the right advice for the delivery of services. So, I don’t think there is the potential to go backwards. There are recommendations that we have accepted. There are some that we haven’t included. Some of those are around legal definitions as well. I’m giving that some further consideration, but the timeline that is around that is prohibitive for me. I suggested to committee earlier on—and it may not crop up like Jenny alluded to earlier; it may not happen again—that this is the start of a new procedure and new strategy. I think that the initial starting of this process has been troubled purely on a timeline basis. I have to define this and I have to publish, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t resolve some of those problems at a later point in time, in terms of the delivery plan.


[137]   John Griffiths: Jenny.


[138]   Jenny Rathbone: Can I just move this on slightly? I appreciate that everybody’s anxious about what is actually going to be in the plan that you’re going to publish on 4 November. I’d like to look more at the relationship between the statutory sector and the voluntary sector. You’ve given roughly £2 million to local authorities and £2 million to the third sector. Is that about the balance that you expect to see in the future in terms of specialist services, which are mainly provided by the voluntary sector, versus statutory services, which obviously do a wide range of services for the whole population?


[139]   Carl Sargeant: ‘I don’t know’ is the answer. I don’t know the answer to that because, partly, I want to test the system to see whether it’s right. That’s why it’s important for me to get the advisory group looking at a very specific piece of work. I said earlier that the conversation has not changed, from three years ago when I was in this portfolio, about sustainable long-term funding and services. What I’ve said to the team and to the national adviser—and they’ve started some work on this but the new group will build on this—is: what do you mean by sustainable funding; what do you mean by services; who commissions them; and how are they commissioned? It’s a new conversation and a new approach to service delivery. It may be that the current position and split between the finances is right, but I don’t know. I can’t commit to the future funding model. We’ve got the same amount of finance, but I don’t know how that will be split or how it should be commissioned, but I will take advice on that. It won’t be me saying, ‘This is how it should be’.


[140]   Jenny Rathbone: What’s your view of the effectiveness of the Scottish model, which gives longer-term core funding?


[141]   Carl Sargeant: I’d love to be in that position—I’d love to be. I actually agree with the sector: long-term sustainable funding is the key. You can plan services and plan change. We announced the budget yesterday and we’ve got the local government settlement later on this afternoon, but it’s a one-year funding model and we do that because we just don’t have any long-term security around finance. But it’s less than helpful in terms of delivering services.


[142]   John Griffiths: Cabinet Secretary, could I ask you about the commissioning guidance and when that will be published and whether you’ll see any problems with organisations going ahead and commissioning services in the absence of that guidance?


[143]   Carl Sargeant: I don’t see the problem because the finance will still be there. The commissioning guidance will be issued around April of next year. When I came to this post I took a root-and-branch review of the department and particularly this part of the department. I’ve asked the team to give me confidence that we’re doing the right things with the right people in terms of this process. So, I’ve got a lot of work going on in this field and that’s why the discussion about the Act is important, but, actually, what we’re going to do for the future is incredibly important. I want to make sure that we’re planning for the future properly.


[144]   So, another piece of work we’re looking to do is—we’ve got the financial model, so how do we get long-term financial sustainability? Part of that is commissioning services and that’s where the sector are a little bit nervous because we commission services from them, or commissioned services are from the sector. That’s why I want to give a broader look in terms of whether we’re commissioning the right services and what the services we need are, and then how we do that. Cardiff are looking currently at a different commissioning model that is very interesting, and interesting to me, and it may be a model that we would like to replicate across Wales. But, again, it’s a nice test piece, actually, because it’s a piece of work that they’re doing. They think it’s the right to do, but I’ve not had sight of outcomes yet. But it is an interesting model. So, commissioning guidance will follow and it may feature around what Cardiff is doing, but the advisory group will, again, give me some more detail on that.


[145]   They’ve got a big task, the advisory group. I think it’s an important task that they’ve got because they’re the professionals. They’re the people with the knowledge in the sector about delivery. My team, respectfully, are professionals in the work that they do, but in terms of the actual knowledge on the ground, it’s important that we glean that back from people, survivors and particularly sector-led organisations.


[146]   John Griffiths: Okay, thank you very much. Cabinet Secretary, in terms of Home Office funding, I wonder if you could tell the committee what discussions you’ve had. We’ve heard from witnesses that there are worries about the discontinuance of Home Office funding, for example, with regard to the IDVAs, the independent advisers on domestic violence, and a transformation fund is significant but, obviously, Wales needs to be keyed in to the decision-making processes and the timelines, and I just wonder what discussions you’ve had.


[147]   Carl Sargeant: My understanding is that the UK Government have decided to stop funding that process. I haven’t had a discussion with the UK Government yet on that, but I will be writing to the UK Government over that. I’m sure Members recognise in this arena that influencing the UK Government on financial matters when they are seeking to reduce funding is one that’s always an interesting discussion. But I will make representation to the UK Government on this issue. We have done in the past but the UK have decided that they are no longer seeking to do that.


[148]   Rhianon Passmore: Chair, can I ask a question on that? [Inaudible.]—funding the domestic violence co-ordinators and is it within the remit of this committee to write to the UK Government to say that this is a retrograde step?


[149]   John Griffiths: We can certainly write. I don’t know whether the Cabinet Secretary would’ve had discussions that would make that—


[150]   Carl Sargeant: No, I think it’s just a financial decision made by the UK.


[151]   Rhianon Passmore: But in terms of this committee’s mandate and in terms of the area that we are looking into, I would like to propose that.


[152]   John Griffiths: I think we can discuss that when we discuss the evidence that we’ve received and we can take matters forward, then, Rhianon. Joyce.




[153]   Joyce Watson: Just on this very question about Home Office funding and direction. Are there opportunities there for Barnett consequentials that we need to be examining and are we following them? 


[154]   Carl Sargeant: Well, through your evidence sessions, my team were listening to some of the evidence given by some of the witnesses. I was interested about the issue regarding some finances compared to Scotland or England. We did a quick calculation in terms of our investment into the sector, and, by far, if we run it through the Barnett system, we invest in domestic violence services much more than any of the other sectors in England or Scotland proportionately. Are we seeing anything, going back to your question, in terms of consequentials? We’re not aware of any new money, so some of the money that’s been reinvested in England is not new, it’s money being delivered differently. So, there aren’t any consequentials, actually, to Wales, but we are conscious of that. Martin.


[155]   Mr Swain: Just to add, I think a lot of the transformation fund UK-wise will go via the police. So, we wouldn’t normally receive a consequential in those circumstances—


[156]   Joyce Watson: Police commissioners.


[157]   Carl Sargeant: Yes.


[158]   Sian Gwenllian: But there should be a consequential.


[159]   Joyce Watson: But it’s going to the police.


[160]   Sian Gwenllian: I know—.


[161]   Carl Sargeant: To be fair, I’ve met with the police and crime commissioners twice since the Government has been set and they are all on board in terms doing some more work. We’re doing some joint commissioning around public relations and communications and also looking at programmes as well where we can interact, bearing in mind they are non-devolved functions. So, we’ve got to—it is about just the relationships that we build with the police commissioners. To be fair, the four new commissioners are very engaging in what they want to do.


[162]   John Griffiths: Cabinet Secretary, we’re going to move on to education now, and I know Joyce has some questions. Before we do, though, I wonder if you could provide us with a legal note in terms of the delivery plan, the status of the delivery plan and the legislation that allows you to do what you intend to do in terms of the significance in the status of the delivery plan. Thank you very much. Joyce, on education then.


[163]   Joyce Watson: On education, Minister—it is obviously a critical part of taking this forward. So, I want to ask, really, where you think you are in terms of rolling out some training, and in particular we need to be looking at the Donaldson review and healthy relationships.


[164]   Carl Sargeant: I’ve already met with Kirsty Williams, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, to start discussing what we’re able to do and what her intention is in terms of curriculum. I’m in agreement with the Member in terms, I think, of early intervention and education being critical to start building healthy relationships. We already have some programmes in place. I’m really keen to get consistency. I’ve asked Kirsty Williams to keep my team informed in terms of information around Donaldson and what the curriculum may or not look like for the future. On a broader spectrum, not just at the early years end of education, I’m also asking Kirsty Williams to look at some of the colleges and HE/FE sector settings about how we can also have discussions with students and employees about how we get this message out as well. So, it’s about healthy relationships from very young right the way through the system. And Kirsty Williams has been very helpful in terms of offering opportunities to do that.   


[165]   Joyce Watson: There are already 120 pioneer schools and that is great—you know, the fact that we’ve put that in. Do we know whether they’re going to be using the new curriculum as a good practice guide for the healthy relationships, because you mentioned consistency?


[166]   Carl Sargeant: I think it’s usually—we get effective results when we’ve got good-quality teaching and people who understand what they’re doing. So, we’re looking to enhance that by some education packs as well, so that we can start to disseminate some of that further information. We’re learning a lot from the 120 schools. I will come back to committee when we’ve got some more detail in terms of outcomes and what their views are. I take a step back again because the department of communities is an integrated one, and I touched on adverse childhood experiences before. You will have seen the announcement around children zones, which we mentioned in the statement the other week. We’re looking again about the intervention around ACEs—so, ACE-approved schools, which is an interesting concept that they’ve done in America, where they look at individuals and how they’re challenged with ACE profiling, and then how we intervene there. There is a significant amount of challenge within the school setting of academic attainment pressures caused by domestic violence. You can’t expect a young person to have good-quality exam results when they’re in a home that has a violent relationship going on. It just doesn’t work. So, Kirsty Williams and I understand that; we’re trying to make sure that we’ve got the well-being of an individual as the priority. From there, we’ll hopefully get better educational attainment as well.


[167]   Joyce Watson: If I can put pressure just a little bit further, when we’re talking about education and school, I suppose there are two things. The first thing is the ability of teachers or professionals—they might be dinner ladies, or men—to recognise behavioural change, because that’s usually the first indicator: a child doesn’t want to go home, or they arrive at school not looking like they did normally and that something has changed at home. Running alongside that, as I understand it, is the duty to report. So, what work are you doing to prepare those responsible in delivering their responsibility for that?


[168]   Carl Sargeant: Two areas. First of all, within the school setting, that’s an important principle, and that’s what the 120 schools is about: supporting individuals to recognise and then signpost and support young people. The other element of this is moving on. I referred to it earlier on with regard to ‘ask and act’. We have started to train public professionals, so that’s within schools and within other settings, about the ability to ask and act appropriately where people are in a setting of domestic violence. We’re having great success with the health service. There’s a programme called IRIS operating in Cardiff now—actually, originated in Bristol—where GPs are now—. It’s a common checklist process for them to say, ‘Are you suffering from domestic violence?’ Probably more subtle than that. The disclosures have been significant because we are asking and acting on it. The same goes for the principles in schools as well.


[169]   Joyce Watson: Just one final question, Chair, because it’s important. This is the children’s element of it. There are, of course, lots of people engaged in the health sector with children—just pre-school—and I’m going back to your children zones. Health visitors go into homes. They are, in my opinion, probably one of the best resources we’ve got for identification. We’ve all heard it. How are you getting around the sharing of data and the issue that very often comes up, which is confidentiality, whereby there could be forewarnings? I know that I’m asking questions, but we’ve got to constantly remind ourselves that two women a week, and some children, get killed as a result of domestic abuse.


[170]   Carl Sargeant: Yes. As long as you’re here, Joyce, you keep asking those questions as well because they’re important ones, and a constant reminder of why we should do something about this. In terms of data sharing, the social workers or health workers are important. They’re one part of the jigsaw. We’ve got so many people that go over the threshold of a home that can be involved in this programme. I met this morning, coincidentally, with Huw Jakeway, who is the chief fire officer for south Wales. They’re doing a fantastic job. The fire service—and I understand, actually, that you’re going to an event with them. He mentioned it to me this morning. They’re also doing work over the threshold. So, they’re not just firefighting; it’s about community safety. So, when they go into homes making assessments of people: are they safe, are they well in general? Is it a social services risk or is it a domestic violence risk? So, the reporting of this is the fire service, social workers, and anybody who crosses the threshold. And that’s why I mentioned RSLs before. They’re also training their direct labour organisation departments in terms of where the workmen go out and fit a new pane of glass into 20 High Street every Saturday morning; it’s generally not the ball that’s going through the window, there’s something else going on. The operational staff of the housing associations are now also asking the question, ‘Are you safe?’ and again, the reporting numbers are significant. So, we are pushing that agenda out very hard, because we understand that the simple mechanism of just asking can trigger many things.


[171]   Rhianon Passmore: With regard to the importance of Donaldson and the areas of learning experience around health and well-being, and the great responsibility that is attached to that in terms of the preventative agenda, I really wanted to just ask, from your perspective, what the interface is with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and how that’s brought back, then, to the advisory group, in terms of it being used as a key platform in terms of that agenda moving forward.


[172]   Carl Sargeant: I’ve only just started the dialogue with Kirsty Williams in terms of trying to understand where Donaldson sits about the implementation of the Act in terms of broadening that out through her sector. I’m fortunate enough to be the Minister responsible for developing the childcare pledge, and Kirsty Williams is very close to that, too, because the settings could be school settings for some too. So, we’re very close on understanding what we mean by quality and what we mean by service delivery. So, the conversations are very open. Both her and myself, and actually across the Cabinet—the conversation is not just, ‘What do we do with our finance for housing or for the fire service?’ It’s ‘How can we double up our money, what do we get from this, what more can we get from the investment that we make?’ That’s why the conversation with Kirsty isn’t just about her problem of reaching academic attainment. We’ve had that conversation of, ‘You’ll not reach these’. With this very hard-to-reach cohort, actually, we need to understand the people, tackling the issues around ACEs and support mechanisms for the home. That, hopefully, will get some more academic attainment, and Kirsty gets that.


[173]   That’s why the conversations about what I do in my department have an impact on education too. Interestingly, she’s looking at her education funding system, so it may not just be about teaching, but the support mechanisms that we need in classrooms for individuals too. So, we’re looking at different pathways to support people, so we’ve got a focus on individuals.


[174]   It’s nothing to do directly with this inquiry, Chair, but I visited—and I’m sure you’ll be interested—the youth justice board in Wrexham the other week about a programme with the very hard-to-reach young individuals who are reoffending on a regular basis, with very high rates of offending. The teams looked at this very differently. They applied a psychological profile—I don’t like the term, but that’s what it is—and they look at the individual and the background. They say, ‘We can’t fix the offending bit, but we can fix the other bits’, and they did a profiling of them on ACEs. They said, ‘At this point in time, little Mr X had domestic violence or substance misuse in his lifetime; we need to fix that bit.’ And they’ve done that with the 20 people up there and their reoffending rate has either stopped or dropped off significantly. So, there’s something about early intervention and prevention. It’s absolutely the right thing to do and that’s what we’re going to be doing in schools. There’s a subtle link there in terms of the DV stuff, but it’s very prevalent.


[175]   John Griffiths: Could I ask you, Cabinet Secretary, about the good practice guide, whether you know how many schools are using that guide and what monitoring takes place in terms of its use?


[176]   Carl Sargeant: I don’t have the stats for that, Chair, but I’m more than happy to write back to you with the detail of that. I will talk to Kirsty Williams as well, in terms of understanding that detai