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£7.3 million invest-to-save funding in public sector services will cut costs by £14 million a year
Minister Jane Hutt unveiled the “invest-to-save” funding at the start of Wales’ third public services summit.
Eight projects will be able to deliver services more efficiently including improving telecare to vulnerable people to help them stay in their own homes longer; a shared emergency service control room; electronic purchasing and invoicing; and, online booking for ambulances to cut back on cancelled journeys.
Finding innovative ideas in public service delivery is one of the main aims of the summit that brings together Chairs, Chief Executives and Leaders from local authorities and across the public service. They will be joined by the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, Finance Minister Jane Hutt and Education Minister Leighton Andrews.
They will be thrashing out solutions to joint challenges faced by organisations as they deal with the worst funding settlement for Wales from the UK Government since devolution.
In setting its Draft Budget last week and its local government settlement that was unveiled this week, the Welsh Assembly Government has drawn on the work of the summits to focus on frontline services to support jobs and protect the vulnerable.
First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said:
"All public sector organisations are facing a challenge in delivering for jobs, delivering for the most vulnerable in our society. Public service leaders are now looking at specific ways to work together more efficiently and innovatively to deliver improved services despite tighter budgets.
"I am pleased to say that there are many areas where this is already happening. One example is the rollout of a single public sector broadband network that will typically save organisations 20% of their broadband costs.
"As our economic summits provided a way to help Wales’ economic recovery, so our public service summits are seeking solutions to protect front line services and help our communities.”
The broadband system is cheaper to upgrade, provides a common system to all organisations, and is more secure, faster, more reliable and future proof.
So far the network has been rolled out in NHS Wales, a number of Local Authorities and Higher Education bodies, who have saved around £5million when measured against their previous baseline costs over the last four years.
Finance Minister Jane Hutt said:
"Our Invest-to-Save Fund is a great example of public sector efficiency and innovation that will not only bring savings but lead to improved services.
"In this difficult financial climate it is even more important that the Assembly Government continues to find ways to help support the drive for greater public sector efficiency and innovation - investing in tried and tested technology is one such way.
"There are already a great many examples of innovative ways of working across the public services in Wales which not only add value, save money but importantly deliver good quality services for the people of Wales. Through the Invest-to-Save Fund, I will continue to support such approaches and encourage their wider adoption and assist new and exciting models of service delivery to be developed."
Education is the theme of this summit, which will see education leaders attend to hear the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning Leighton Andrews share the findings of the Frontline services Review in education services. He outlined how the findings could be applied to improve all public services.
Education Minister Leighton Andrews said:
"Following a challenging settlement from the UK Government it is clear that savings have to be made. Our challenge now is to use funding in a way that not only protects public services but actually improves the outcome for people in Wales. In order to achieve this it is essential that more money goes to our education front lines.
"This is why earlier this year I commissioned Pricewaterhouse Cooper to review education spending in Wales. The recommendations of this review came down to a few key principles which apply not just across education, but all public services. They are simplify, standardise, share, collaborate and improve outcomes.
"If we work in this way we will be able to make savings on support services and release resources for the front line. We can also make those front line services better, more agile and more effective."
At the summit leaders will look at opportunities to increase their buying power for goods and services, make smarter use of technology and work together to work as efficiently as possible and make better use of buildings and other assets.
Ministers and leaders will also discuss how new ways of designing and delivering services to best meet the needs of people can support the vulnerable and make better use of resources.
This event has come together with the Annual Local Service Board Conference to ensure a strong link between the Welsh public services Efficiency and Innovation Programme and local leadership for change.