Latest Public Sector News


Welsh councils forced to collaborate under fresh local government reform plans

Local authorities in Wales will not be forced to merge, but will undergo an “enhanced level of mandatory and systematic” collaborative working under new integration plans announced by the Welsh Government.

The Draft Local Government Bill published in November last year floated the possibility of merging the 22 councils in Wales into eight or nine bodies in order to find £650m in savings. While this idea was abandoned by the Welsh first minister earlier this year, the government has confirmed that voluntary collaboration will become mandatory. Voluntary mergers are also still welcome.

In an update to Assembly Members yesterday, local government secretary Mark Drakeford highlighted how councils have been delivering services against “a backdrop of austerity”, which raises questions of how local authorities can become more resilient to deal with pressures.

“Over the summer, I visited all 22 local authorities and met with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Trades Unions and others,” he continued.

“I have listened to their views and we now have an approach on a possible way forward. This would retain existing local authorities – the ‘front door’ through which people access services – but with key services being delivered regionally.

“Behind this front door, we would have an enhanced level of mandatory and systematic regional working. This will give local authorities more resilience in terms of staffing and finance and also ensure that services are planned and delivered on the right scale.”

There are two models to deliver these services, Drakeford said: one based around city-regions covering strategic transport, land-use planning and economic development; and another aligned to health boards for services such as education improvement, public protection and social services.

“Of course, some authorities may wish to build their resilience further by voluntarily merging and we will support them to help make that happen,” he added.

“We will also make improvements to community councils in the short term, and establish an independent review to look at the future role of this tier of local government.”

The secretary of state also confirmed that there will be councillor elections in 2022, when their five-year term ends, giving local government a “10-year stable platform from which to take forward reform”.

He concluded: “I want to be clear today that we are setting out on this journey with a new determination.  I’m prepared to see progress over a sensible and practical timeframe, but progress must be made.

“By the New Year, I hope to have identified, with local government, recognised Trade Unions and other partners, a viable way forward.”

Council ideas ‘chime well’ with government proposals

The WLGA welcomed the new approach to local government reform, which is expected to provide “stability and security” in times of structural and financial insecurity.

Cllr Bob Wellington, leader of the WLGA, added: “Only last week council leaders met to discuss local government proposals for reform based on greater regional collaboration of key services based on the city-regions and alignment of other public services particularly in terms of health and social care. 

“Our ideas for future service innovation chime well with the proposals outlined by the Cabinet secretary.”

He argued it is “encouraging” that the proposals highlight how councils will remain embedded in their communities as the ‘front door’ through which people access services, therefore keeping the ‘local’ in local democracy and local government whilst offering a “coherent agenda” for regional collaboration.

“There is much detail now to explore, not least on how the proposed ‘mandatory’ approach to regional working will work, but we look forward to working with the Cabinet secretary and our other partners to ensure we deliver a workable vision for public service reform in Wales,” Cllr Wellington concluded.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >