Budget process and preventative spend
The Welsh Government budget strategy and decision-making process are a fundamental part of driving change across public services in Wales as it frames a significant proportion of decisions by public bodies.
The Commissioner has advised and successfully agreed with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford AM, a definition for prevention.
Whilst this will take a while to be fully understand across Government, the Commissioner expects to see how it is informing spending decisions and we’re pleased to see some analysis in this year’s budget.
The definition of prevention we agreed with the Welsh Government.
Prevention is working in partnership to co-produce the best outcomes possible, utilising the strengths and assets people and places have to contribute. Breaking down into four levels, each level can reduce demand for the next:
- Primary prevention (PP) – Building resilience – creating the conditions in which problems do not arise in the future. A universal approach.
- Secondary prevention (SP) – Targeting action towards areas where there is a high risk of a problem occurring. A targeted approach, which cements the principles of progressive universalism*
- Tertiary prevention (TP) – Intervening once there is a problem, to stop it getting worse and prevent it reoccurring in the future. An intervention approach
- Acute spending (AS) – Spending, which acts to manage the impact of a strongly negative situation but does little or nothing to prevent problems occurring in the future. A remedial approach.* progressive universalism is a determination to provide support for all, giving everyone and everything a voice and vested interest, but recognises more support will be required by those people or areas with greater needs.
Welsh Government Draft Budget 2019-20
The draft 2019-20 budget is structured in a more integrated way, which helpfully mirrors the structure of the recently published Prosperity for All annual report and reflects the requirement under the Well-being of Future Generations Act to develop and deliver policy in an integrated way.
The Commissioner has scrutinised the draft budget, with a consideration of how the budget as a whole reflects the Act, and also with more detailed exploration of budget decisions related to mental health, decarbonisation and social care. Social Finance, a not-for-profit organisation which works in partnership to develop new solutions to society’s most difficult problems, provided analysis and insight in relation to this work.
The Commissioner has also published advice to Welsh Government with 10 recommendations for they should build on the progress they have made in the draft budget this time around to take more ambitious and transformational steps from 2019 onwards. These recommendations relate to:
A. Developing an approach to checking year-on-year progress to considering the Well-being of Future Generations Act in the budget process;
B. Using the UK Government spending review as an opportunity to take further steps toward a long-term approach;
C. Applying the definition of prevention across Government and public services;
D. Understanding the desired balance of investment in preventative approaches across Government, and embedding preventative approaches accordingly;
E. Ensuring that investment in decarbonisation reflects ambition.
Finance Committee November 2017
The evidence that the Commissioner gave to the National Assembly Finance Committee for Wales in November 2017 emphasised the need for a tangible shift to preventative approaches, better integration across policy, and for Government decisions (such as the M4) to be framed in the long-term.
Her evidence to the Finance Committee resulted in three of their nine recommendations relating to the Well-being of Future Generations Act:
Recommendation 7. The Committee reiterates the recommendation it made in relation to the 2017-2018 draft budget that the Government should demonstrate greater alignment between its draft budgets, the well-being goals and the five ways of working. Future draft budgets should also demonstrate how the Government’s allocation of funds will meet the priorities outlined in its national strategy, currently Prosperity for All.
Recommendation 8. The Committee recommends that the strategic integrated impact assessment provided alongside future draft budgets should provide a clear explanation as to how decisions were reached.
Recommendation 9. The Committee recommends that the Cabinet Secretary consider the suggestion that the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has a role in assessing the impact of Government’s budget in supporting the well-being goals, both in the short- and longer-term.