Annual Self-Assessment 2021-22

Executive Summary: SA4 - Working with partners and customers

To provide a visible and transparent way of measuring where we are on our improvement journey through time each sub-theme is scored using the system set out below, and provides both a current and forward looking perspective.

  • Score 1: Current performance - Excellent; Improvement phase - Effective
  • Score 2: Current performance - Good; Improvement phase - Embedding
  • Score 3: Current performance - Fair; Improvement phase - Evolving
  • Score 4: Current performance - Poor; Improvement phase - Emerging


SA4.1: Strategic Partnerships

SA4.2: Regional working

SA4.3: Participation, engagement and consultation



SA4.1: Strategic Partnerships

  • Current performance: 3
  • Improvement phase: 3

Assessment of current performance (how well are we doing?)

The Council is involved in and supports a number of strategic partnerships both financially and with officer time. The drivers for these partnerships include legislation and policy directives from Welsh Government. 

In March 2018 Cabinet approved a list of key strategic partnerships arrangements and sought to ensure robust governance of these partnerships were in place as well as developing a standardised approach to monitoring their delivery. The key strategic partnerships identified through this process are:

  1. Pembrokeshire Public Services Board
  2. Safer Pembrokeshire Community Safety Partnership
  3. ERW
  4. Regional Learning and Skills Partnership
  5. Pembrokeshire College
  6. West Wales Care Partnership
  7. Health, Social Services and Wellbeing Commissioning Partnership Board
  8. M & WW Regional Safeguarding Board: Adults
  9. M & WW Regional Safeguarding Board: Children
  10. 3 Counties Carers Officers Group
  11. Mid and West Wales Adoption Service
  12. Swansea Bay City Deal Board
  13. Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership
  14. Regional Substance Misuse Area Planning Board
  15. Pembrokeshire Housing Register Partnership

In addition to providing assurance regarding adequate governance, internal controls and risk management, work was also undertaken at this time to strengthen member oversight and scrutiny of these strategic partnerships through the establishment of a specific Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  However, following a member-led review of scrutiny structures and remits in 2018-19 Council took the decision to disband this Committee, with scrutiny of the partnerships listed above falling within the remits of the most relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee for inclusion in forward work programmes. 

In early 2022, the Internal Audit team undertook a review of the Council’s key strategic partnerships arrangements. The objective of the audit was to provide assurance that the Council’s strategic partnerships have adequate governance, internal control, and risk management arrangements in place which are operating effectively and assisting them to achieve their objectives. The audit provided a ‘moderate’ assurance rating, and some of the headline findings include:

  • Partnership meetings happen regularly, however the Covid-19 Pandemic has had some impact on frequency and attendance at meetings
  • Terms of reference for several Partnerships are due to be updated during 2022 which presents an opportune time to also reflect on some improvements which could be made to governance frameworks and controls
  • The Council’s Partnerships Procedure, which was originally developed in 2016, needs to be reviewed and updated
  • Sample testing confirmed that internal and external reporting requirements are complied with, however the frequency and quality of scrutiny by the Overview and Scrutiny committees is not consistent, with some not being scrutinised at all, for example, the Mid and West Wales Adoption Service. The lack of Member oversight could result in the Authority not receiving assurance that the Partnerships are effective and achieving their intended outcomes
  • It is acknowledged that enforcement of change is not always in the Authority’s gift, for Partnerships in which the Authority is only a member.

The review identified a number of opportunities for improvement to the adequacy and effectiveness of existing arrangements to both improve and add value to the arrangements of Strategic Partnerships, and these were captured in recommendations which are set out below as improvement actions moving forward.

Evidence (how do we know?)

Some of the evidence to support this conclusion comes from internal documents which have not been published. This includes:

  • Internal Audit Review of Strategic Partnerships

Improvement actions (what can we do better and how?)

  • Key Strategic Partnerships – list to be reviewed to ensure it is up to date and accurate.
  • Partnerships Procedure – to be reviewed, updated and circulated to the lead officers for each of the respective strategic partnerships, to ensure that there is a clear framework in place to achieve effective governance, internal control, financial management and risk management arrangements.
  • Partnerships governance arrangements - each partnership to re-visit various control and oversight policies, to include whistleblowing, conflicts of interest, data sharing and risk registers, to allow the Members of the Partnership to be aware of the process to be followed should any concerns be raised.
  • Overview and Scrutiny - the arrangements for scrutiny of Strategic Partnerships to be reviewed to ensure they are robust, with consideration given as to whether the current arrangements are suitable or require revision. All Strategic Partnerships must be reviewed periodically by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee, with effective challenge which adds value to the work of the Partnership.



SA4.2: Regional working

  • Current performance: 2
  • Improvement phase: 2

Assessment of current performance (how well are we doing?)

Our ability to work effectively with neighbouring authorities as part of regional working reflects how well we are using the five ways of working in the Well-being of Future Generations Act to improve outcomes, particularly collaboration and integration. There is a trend towards greater regional working and during the year we undertook the preparatory work for a new type of delivery organisation for regional work, the South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee which is required by the Local Government and Elections Act. 

The Council delivers a very wide range of services and has numerous duties. Whilst the Pembrokeshire ‘footprint’ is ideal for delivering many of these, for some services, a larger regional geographic footprint can work better and can allow pooling of resources. Examples include co-ordination of social care and health integration, and aspects of economic development, transport and land use planning.

The governance structures used for regional working varies. Some are relatively informal arrangements, whilst a structure called a Joint Committee is often used to govern more complex arrangements such as for health and social care. As noted above, during the year we undertook the preparatory work to set up the South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee. This differs from a Joint Committee in that it is an organisation in its own right – to all intents and purposes a new local authority with its own statutory duties, powers, budget and internal structures.  Covering Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea as well as National Parks in these areas, the SWWCJC will lead on regional transport, land use planning and the regional energy strategy. It will complement all four local authorities’ economic development plans by providing a regional economic framework.

The work involved in established the SWWCJC involved responding to consultations on all aspects of how the organisation should work and how it should integrate with existing regional working structures like the Swansea Bay City Deal. Senior leaders met fortnightly to plan work and draw up the protocols and foundation documents (such as its Constitution) that will underpins how its function. The SWWCJC met twice in 2021-22 in order to agree its Constitution and its budget. We have remained focused on ensuring that the SWWCJC adds value to delivery of services and that the bureaucracy around it is kept to a minimum. To this end, the key roles within the CJC are being rotated between the four local authorities. Each local authority has agreed to provide some of the internal functions of the CJC. For instance, Neath Port Talbot Council provide the secretariat (and the SWWCJC’s agenda and minutes can be viewed on the Neath Port Talbot Council website). Pembrokeshire County Council will provide the internal audit function.

Work has started on regional transport planning and on the Strategic Development Plan. This is an intermediary regional land use plan that will sit between Council’s local development plans and the Welsh Government’s national development framework. Work is also underway for economic development. Welsh Government has developed a regional economic framework for South West Wales with the intention that later iterations of this plan are developed through the SWWCJC. The 2022 draft of the framework was endorsed by Cabinet at its March 2022 meeting. Through Swansea Bay City Deal, closely linked to the SWWCJC, progress is being made on green energy projects with construction work at Port of Pembroke commencing in August 2022.

The West Wales Care Partnership (a statutory regional partnership known as a regional partnership board and required by the Social Services and Well-being Act) continues to lead work on the integration of social care and health, improving services for people needing care and support, and their carers. We are one of the members of the joint committee. The WWCP publishes an annual report setting out its achievements and progress made against our regional priorities (2021-22 is yet to be published)

We worked through the West Wales Care Partnership on a Social Care Attraction and Recruitment Questionnaire as a way of addressing the recruitment and retention problems flagged up in section SA5.2 on social care. The WWCP also commissioned a market stability report from Oxford Brookes University. Considered by our social care and O&S committee in January 2022, this analyses the difficulties that exist in the social care market and it also makes a number of practical suggestions for how the shortfall in supply can be addressed. 

The West Wales Care Partnership has links with other key regional collaborative forums for safeguarding, preventing domestic violence and supported housing for vulnerable people. These agenda are closely aligned to social care.

There are a number of less formal regional structures that, nonetheless, support important areas of work which Pembrokeshire County Council works with other organisations on areas such as Community Cohesion and support for the Armed Forces. These arrangements build capacity and best practice across the region. For instance, the regional community cohesion team provided additional capacity to respond to housing Ukrainian refugees and the support of the regional Armed Forces coordinator has helped with recognition through the Defence Employer Recognition scheme.

Regional partnership arrangements around education are covered in section SA5.1.

Evidence (how do we know?)

The reports and minutes of the South West Wales Corporate Joint Committee are available via Swansea City Council’s website

The West Wales Care Partnership will publish its 2021-22 annual report on its website. Previous annual reports can be viewed on the publications section of the site

A report on the work of the West Wales Care Partnership and its market stability report can be viewed on the following agenda of Social Services O&S Committee

Agenda for Social Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Monday, 7th March, 2022, 10.00a.m. - Pembrokeshire County Council

Improvement actions (what can we do better and how?)

  • The use of more open, transparent and action focussed regional mechanisms, such as the Corporate Joint Committee, necessarily require a greater degree of formality. Whilst the work to create the key architecture of the CJC was completed in 2021-22, we will need to work in partnership with the CJC’s other members to develop its structures so that it can meet all of its duties.
  • Integration of similar functions under one body.  The Swansea Bay City Deal preceded the CJC by about 5 years and is bringing a regional perspective and investment around green energy, one of the functions of the CJC. In partnership, we will explore how regional structures can be simplified and a decision has been made in principle to merge Swansea Bay City Deal structures with the CJC. 
  • Regional working will underpin key economic development projects such as applying for Freeport status for the Port of Milford Haven.
  • West Wales Care Partnership submitted a five year action plan, funded by the Health and Social Care Regional Integration Fund to Welsh Government in April 2022. This plan will help support the Council’s own plans for improving social care, in particular integrating services with health as well as tackling workforce issues



SA4.3: Participation, engagement and consultation

  • Current performance: 2
  • Improvement phase: 2

Assessment of current performance (how well are we doing?)


There are many reasons why we need to maintain a focus on participation, engagement and consultation. Our Corporate Governance Improvement Plan 2022-24 is based around CIPFA’s Good Governance Principles and has a section on Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement. Involvement is one of the five ways of working that underpin the sustainable development duty. The Local Government and Elections Act introduced a duty for us to produce a participation strategy. 

Leaving aside what we are expected to do by others on participation, engagement and consultation, these are areas that we want to improve upon as they underpin our work on redefining and strengthening our relationship with communities and working in partnership with them.

Work on shaping a Participation Strategy commenced in 2021-22 meeting requirements set out in the Local Government and Elections Act. A development proposal for the Strategy was considered by Democratic Services Committee and was written in the context of changing Welsh Government guidance on the strategy. Democratic Services Committee will oversee the production of the strategy in the 2022-23 year. A petition scheme has also been produced and adopted, which links to the Participation Strategy, and is an example how we are making it easier for people to influence democratic participation was agreed in Feb 2022.


We purchased the Engagement HQ system in the 2020-21. One of the advantages of this system is that it allows us to maintain an overview consultations, the extent to which people are getting involved and broad brush information on who is engaging. Not all the consultations that we undertake to through the Engagement HQ system. Last year there were around 35,000 visits to the consultation part of our website. Based on the system’s analysis of how people used it, a little over half of these are ‘informed’ with around a fifth of the total proportion engaging.  Around a third of people who used the system are aged over 65, with the vast majority of other users being of working age.  Whilst the proportion of men and women who engaged matches the profile as Pembrokeshire as a whole, the proportion of people from an ethnic minority and, to a lesser extent, from disabled people is lower than in the community as a whole.

Examples of the major projects which people viewed information or engaged on included service based issues such as the Review of Second and Long Term Empty Homes, changes to Waste and Recycling Centres and the Eco Park Pre Application Consultation. People also engaged with broader issues such as our plans for achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2030 - The Big Green Plan.  Section SA2.1 comments on the consultation and engagement undertaken as part of the annual budget setting process. 

The Council also supported the development of the Pembrokeshire Public Service Board’s Well-being Assessment for its new Well-being Plan as well as recent consultation on well-being objectives for its 2023-2028 Plan.

There has been an increase in the use of external consultants for engagement and consultation on some projects, especially those that are funded through the capital programme where the consultation is built into the development and funding of the project itself. Examples include re-aligning the A487 at Newgale, the regeneration of Haverfordwest Castle and a new Welsh Mediumprimary school in Pembroke. We have also signposted members of the community to consultations being undertaken on transport issues, such as Active Travel and electric cars that are being undertaken by WG or regional bodies. One of the advantages of using external consultants is that it makes use of different perspectives as well as freeing up capacity of our own staff.

One of the actions included in our Corporate Governance Improvement Plan is to undertake a staff survey and develop an action plan based on its results. We have contracted with an external provider, Culture Amp, to undertake this work. Fieldwork is starting in September 2022 with consideration of results and development an action plan from October 2022.

In addition to developing a participation strategy, the Corporate Governance Improvement Plan contains a commitment to develop and implement a communication and engagement strategy for internal and external stakeholders.

Evidence (how do we know?)

Corporate Governance Improvement Plan was discussed at a meeting of Governance and Audit Committee, 11 March 2022, where the Corporate Governance Improvement Plan. The most recent draft of the Plan was considered by Governance and Audit Committee on 27 September 2022.

Agenda for Governance and Audit Committee on Friday, 11th March, 2022, 10.00a.m. - Pembrokeshire County Council

Agenda for Governance and Audit Committee on Friday, 27th September, 2022, 10.00a.m. - Pembrokeshire County Council

All Cabinet reports have section on impact assessments and this includes consultation

Link to meetings of Cabinet from 6 September 2021 – Pembrokeshire County Council

Progress reports on the Participation Strategy are considered by Democratic Services Committee

Agenda for Democratic Services Committee on Monday, 27th June, 2022, 10.00a.m. - Pembrokeshire County Council

Some of the evidence to support this conclusion comes from internal documents which have not been published.  This includes:

  • Report from Engagement HQ

Improvement actions (what can we do better and how?)

  • Many of the actions in this section are medium term projects and will continue into the 2022-23 year such as the participation strategy. This is a significant piece of work and we have developed a plan of how to produce this strategy in the 2022-23 year. This strategy will complement other work in the Programme for Administration on how we strengthen our relationships we have with communities and how, through greater participation and engagement, we can improve communities’ capacity to improve their own well-being
  • We want to improve the feedback mechanisms that are in place following consultation so that people know how we are using their views.
  • We want to widen who is engaging through participation, engagement or consultation so that those who get involved better reflect the demographics of Pembrokeshire. Under-representation of some parts of the community is not unique to Pembrokeshire County Council and we already support a number of engagement and participation mechanisms, especially for young people
ID: 9652, revised 08/03/2023