Headlines: October 20th, 2004

A five-year action plan for public services in Wales is to be published in the spring. It will be produced following consultations on proposals set out by First Minister, Rhodri Morgan in a report, which it is claimed gives a clear direction for the delivery of better services for the people of Wales.Unveiling, “Making the Connections” Mr. Morgan said the plans would make public services more efficient and more responsive to people’s needs. The report outlines the Assembly Government’s vision for public services and the way they are designed and delivered. It will form the basis of the action plan after consultation.

The plan has four main principles, empowering citizens and placing them at the centre in the delivery of responsive public services; better front-line access and support for people using the services; creating a more collaborative public service that is better integrated and more accountable, with simpler relationships and less paperwork; maximising the value of spending to deliver better services, including achieving 600 million pound value for money improvements across the major public bodies by 2010 so resources can be put into frontline services and finally, equality and social justice with the proposals setting out ways in which public services need to respond to people facing disadvantage.

Mr. Morgan said the first four years of the Assembly had been about establishing a new form of democratic government in Wales and the priority for the second term was the vision for public services. “This report brings together and builds on the different strands of thinking which we have been putting into practice since devolution. The result is an integrated approach, which provides the basis for a five-year action plan for better services,” he said. .

The First Minister said he would lead a programme across the public service, including local authorities, the NHS and education bodies and that over the next six months the Assembly Government would be working and consulting with partners on the action plan. As part of this a Public Services Improvement Board will be set up to oversee the programme with Mr. Morgan as its chairman.