Pembrokeshire Public Services Board: Annual Report 2021-22

Reflections on delivering the first Well-being Plan for Pembrokeshire

In preparing this annual report, we have taken the time to reflect on our activity and to identify lessons for the future.

What has gone well?

Over the last five years we have established a number of standing sub-groups. These have helped us to deliver our first set of Well-being Objectives and will help us to deliver activity in our next Plan.

Meetings overall are generally well-attended and partners have shown a great deal of enthusiasm towards meeting the objectives outlined in the plan. There have been several good pieces of work undertaken by partners that most likely would not have happened if it was not for the relationships that have developed between partner organisations since the inception of the PSB. These relationships have had a positive effect on how partners have worked together outside of the remit of the PSB, providing a strong foundation for partnership working which was most evident in the response to Covid.

What have been the main challenges?

Having no ring-fenced funding is a major obstacle to delivering on the objectives and priorities in the Well-being Plan. In an era of diminishing public sector funding it is very difficult for partners to pool resources, let alone identify additional funding to support partnership working.  In addition, general reductions in senior management capacity in many public sector organisations, coupled with the significant increase in regional working and the commitment from senior staff that this entails, has exposed a ‘gap’ between ambition and delivery. It has also had an impact in terms of the consistency of representation at PSB meetings which brings challenges in terms of building momentum and a shared sense of purpose and direction. 

In theory the Well-being Plan should be the overarching strategic plan for Pembrokeshire under which partners align activities. However the majority of PSB partners have not mainstreamed the Well-being Plan and its priorities and actions within their corporate planning and decision-making processes. As such, the PSB and Plan are seen as add-ons rather than being built in. This limits the status of the PSB and the ability of the Board to provide an overarching focus and drive to tackle issues within the County which would benefit from an ‘all-in’ approach.

The breadth and complexity of the strategic partnerships agenda at a local, regional and national level – across so many different policy themes - is difficult to reconcile with Welsh Government’s ambition for PSBs to be the key strategic partnership responsible for the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of an area.  General feedback is that PSBs are often seen as a poor relation in comparison to other partnerships within this landscape.  In the continued absence of any ring-fenced resources and with an increasing push towards regionalisation, it will be challenging for PSBs to create a distinct purpose and identity.

What can we do differently over the life of the next Plan?

The PSB should focus its efforts and energy on fewer strategic actions where collectively partners can make a difference to improving well-being in the County. By trying to cover all bases it ultimately spreads itself too thin, with negative impacts on the capacity to deliver and insufficient focus on what it can actually influence and change for the better. There may also be some value in trying to align workstreams that will meet multiple priorities, thereby reducing the spread of officer resources that each partner is able to commit to delivering the Well-being Plan.

There is also an opportunity for the PSB to flex into more of an enabling role rather than being directly responsible for delivery, through supporting and facilitating communities and citizens to find solutions which improve collective or individual well-being which best meet local need.

Without dedicated funding, the PSB has struggled to find its place in driving forward the ambitions of the Act. PSBs provide a valuable forum for senior leaders to discuss issues of joint importance and if the PSB did not exist it is likely that a similar forum would be created to meet this need.  Therefore there is a clear purpose and mutual interest in making the PSB work, but it needs to become more than a ‘talking shop’ in order add real value and to drive forward the necessary actions which can result in meaningful change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ID: 9279, revised 04/11/2022
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