In supporting the government's bold and challenging approach to public service reform, the report says that Wales could become a model for how services are delivered in small countries, but the programme of reform will need to go faster and deeper.
The report builds on the collaborative model already established by the Welsh Assembly Government in Making the Connections. It does not prescribe specific solutions for individual services, but establishes common principles for citizen-centred, efficient and accountable services in a small country.
The report recognises the progress made since devolution, and calls for even more ambitious leadership, at national and local level, to enhance performance, increase responsiveness and, in the context of a tightening of financial constraints, maximise value for money and the efficient use of resources. To achieve this, it suggests that Wales should free itself from the bureaucratic culture and structures which the devolved governance system inherited from the Whitehall model.
The review recommends:
--reducing bureaucracy, simplifying grant regimes, less inspection and regulation and a concentration on outcomes not process;
-- much more joint working - across organisations and sectors and across services within them - to enhance capacity, improve efficiency and increase the range and quality of public services: more shared procurement, shared management and pooled budgets;
-- no major re-organisation of structures - priority is to make existing system work much better through comprehensive action to tackle the constraints on progress. Review in five years time to assess whether collaboration has delivered the necessary step-change, and if not, whether structural change, or any other major re-orientation of service delivery, is required;
-- a willingness to embrace a mixed economy of provision including the public, private and not for profit sectors;
-- an enhanced role for scrutiny in the Assembly and local government, involving service users and advocates;
--greater investment in building capacity and skills in service delivery;
--piloting contracts between the Assembly Government and partnerships of local organisations to achieve specific objectives (Partnership Action Contracts), with Ministers engaged with local leaders to ensure delivery;
-- managing performance better, rewarding good performance and intervening earlier where performance is lacking;
--according redress where service failure occurs;
--ensuring the public and decision makers are better informed about
performance, with relevant comparative information and clarity about the choices faced by organisations such as councils or local health boards.
Presenting the report Sir Jeremy said:
'The Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Local Government Association have demonstrated both courage and ambition in establishing this review. With strong national and local leadership, Wales can become a model of small country governance. There is already much to admire, but the people of Wales deserve and can achieve even more, without recourse to crude market mechanisms.
'Our message is that Making the Connections has made a promising start, but like modern broadband technology, it has to go further and faster.'
The Review of Local Service Delivery was announced in July 2005, as part of the Delivering the Connections action plan launched in June 2005.
The members of the review team are: Sir Jeremy Beecham, Dame Gillian Morgan, Sir Adrian Webb. The team has been advised by Professor Steve Martin of Cardiff Business School. (The team's biographies and terms of reference are included in the report).
Link to the Making the Connections page where the full text of the Beecham report can be found is here.
Assembly Government Welcomes Beecham Review
The Welsh Assembly Government has welcomed the publication of 'Beyond the Boundaries', the review of local service delivery in Wales chaired by Jeremy Beecham.
The report endorses the Assembly Government's approach to public services reform, Making the Connections, as a bold and challenging agenda but says that it needs to go further and faster.
Sue Essex, minister of finance, local government and public services said: 'In Wales we have an innovative and distinctive programme of public service reform which requires all parts of the public service to work with each other and not against each other.
'The Beecham team have done a fantastic job in producing such an authoritative report in less than a year. We welcome their endorsement of our approach to improving the way public services are delivered and for recommending the further changes that are necessary for us to achieve our ambition.
'Through Making the Connections and working closely with our partners delivering front-line services, we have made an excellent start in bringing about the kinds of changes which the review advocates, for example:
--Much greater collaboration, wherever it will lead to improved efficiency and service delivery, between local authorities, NHS bodies, social housing bodies, police, fire services and many others - with developments all over Wales;
--Good early signs of progress towards our goal of achieving£600m efficiency gains by 2010 to free up resources for frontline services
--New forms of service which are more responsive to people's needs and initiatives to make it easier for them to get the service they need (one-stop shops, single telephone numbers and the internet).
'It is encouraging that there are already many examplesof good practice in Wales where public bodies have are working together to deliver improved services to the public.
'We recognise the need to work even harder and faster to achieve the transformation in public services we all want.
'This means getting to grips with the real issues about improving public services, not becoming distracted by major re-organisations. The Beecham Report confirms the progress that has been made in Wales and sets out a series of further reforms that need to be made at all levels of government in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government will in the early Autumn publish details of how it intends to take its public service reform programme forward and act upon the recommendations of this report.'