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Welsh public bodies are joining forces to deliver a major conference at the end of November, which is designed to improve the quality of public services through better scrutiny.

The Scrutiny in the Spotlight: Investing to Maximise its Impact conference is jointly hosted by the Wales Audit Office, WLGA, Welsh Government, Centre for Public Scrutiny and Cardiff  Business School. Taking place on 28 November at Cardiff's SWALEC Stadium, it will bring together representatives from local and central government, health and regulatory bodies in Wales and will include those involved in scrutiny at all levels - including councillors, officers and Directors.

The event includes an opening address by the Minister for Local Government and Government Business, Lesley Griffiths and contributions from across the Welsh public sector. The conference also features a session on the lessons for accountability arising from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust  Public Inquiry.

Effective scrutiny is a vital component in ensuring that the best decisions are made to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Wales. It plays a key role in self-regulation and promoting improvement, efficiencies and collaboration across public services. And, this is increasingly the case in responding to the challenge of the global financial situation while continuously seeking to improve services.

But is scrutiny having an impact? Is the public getting value for money? And how do we know? The conference will explore these questions and delegates will work together to share good practice and seek solutions on where improvements can be made.

Minister for Local Government and Government Business, Lesley Griffiths AM, said yesterday:

"Effective scrutiny is a crucial element of the democratic process. When done well it holds decision-makers to account, and can provide service users with an effective voice in the design and delivery of the services they receive. I have seen at first hand local authority services which are better because of the constructive challenge  scrutiny has made to their development and delivery.
This conference is the perfect platform for all public service providers to explore the contribution scrutiny can make to delivering excellent services. Improvement in scrutiny will lead to improved services to the public so I'm very pleased to see the importance now attached to scrutiny which is demonstrated by so many public service providers taking part in this conference."

Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas said yesterday:

"Scrutiny isn't something that the public necessarily see but it touches the heart of everything they do - from bin collections, to hospital stays, to  children's education. The process of examining, reviewing and challenging public sector decisions is vitally important. We need to get better at it and this conference brings together those charged with the responsibility to do just that."

Conference Chair, Jessica Crowe, Executive Director, Centre for Public Scrutiny, said yesterday:

"In these tough financial times it has never been more important for public services in Wales to ensure they are making the best decisions in order to achieve value for money. I hope this conference will provide an effective platform for those involved in local scrutiny to share experiences and collaborate across the public sector to find workable solutions."

Cllr Hugh Evans (Denbighshire), WLGA spokesperson for Improvement and Performance said:

"Over the coming period, the Welsh public sector will have to manage significant structural change and develop new models of public service delivery.  Effective scrutiny will play a vital role in this process, and this event offers a unique opportunity to forge new ideas on how the scrutiny process can help protect, inform and improve the way public services are delivered in Wales in the future."

Notes to Editors:

  • The Wales Audit Office works to promote improvement so that the people of Wales benefit from accountable, well managed public services that offer the best possible value for money.
  • The Auditor General and the auditors he appoints in local government are the independent statutory external auditors of most of the Welsh public sector. They are responsible for the annual audit of the majority of public money spent in Wales, including the £15 billion of funds that are voted on annually by the National Assembly. Elements of this funding are passed by the Welsh Government to the NHS in Wales (over £5 billion) and to local government (over £4 billion).
  • The Welsh Government is elected by the people of Wales to carry out a programme of government. This involves making decisions and ensuring delivery on areas devolved to them on matters that affect people's daily lives. This is achieved through developing and implementing policies; setting up and directing delivery and governance in these key areas, such as local government and the NHS in Wales; making subordinate legislation (e.g. regulations and statutory guidance), and proposing Welsh laws (Assembly Bills).
  • Cardiff Business School is widely regarded as one of the leading business and management schools in the UK. Ranked 4th in the UK for research excellence, it has over 150 faculty from more than 20 countries, including 54 full professors at the forefront of their fields. The School is ranked 2nd in the UK for proportion of 'world-leading' research.
  • The Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) is a charity that promotes the value of scrutiny, accountability and good governance, both in the public sector and amongst those people and organisations who deliver publicly funded services. CfPS publishes research and practical guides, provides training and leadership development, supports on-line and off-line networks, and facilitates shared learning and innovation. CfPS is currently delivering a major programme of support for scrutiny in Wales, for more information please visit http://cfps.org.uk/wales"
  • The WLGA represents all of Wales' 22 local authorities and works to promote local democracy and improve public service delivery. Wales' National Park and Fire and Rescue authorities are also associate members.

****If you would like to send a reporter to the conference, please register your interest in advance, for press accreditation, by contacting Laura Young on 029 2032 0576 or by emailing laura.young@wao.gov.uk ****

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