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  4. Minutes Of the Sport Wales Board meeting held on 17 February 2022 at the Sport Wales National Centre

Minutes Of the Sport Wales Board meeting held on 17 February 2022 at the Sport Wales National Centre

PRESENT: Lawrence Conway (Chair), Pippa Britton (Vice Chair), Ashok Ahir, Ian Bancroft, Rajma Begum, Dafydd Trystan Davies, Delyth Evans, Nicola Mead-Batten, Hannah Murphy, Judi Rhys, Professor Leigh Robinson, Phil Tilley, Alison Thorne, Martin Veale

Staff: Brian Davies (CEO), Graham Williams, Emma Wilkins, Liam Hull, Jo Nicholas, Rachel Davies, Owen Hathway, James Owens, Amanda Thompson (minutes)

External: Sian Dorwood and Janine Dube (Step To Non-Exec), Jac Chapman (Youth Panel), Neil Welch (Welsh Government)

1.    Welcome/introductions

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting, there were no apologies for absence.

2.    Declaration of Interests

·         Hannah Murphy, with regards to Item 7.2 in her capacity as employment with the England & Wales Cricket Board.

3.    Minutes of the last meeting dated 25 November 2021

The minutes were accepted as a true and accurate record.  Matters arising:

·         The Chair and CEO met with Cricket Wales’ Chair and CEO on 15 December 2021.

·         The Board’s request to learn more about the Digital Community Investment Fund would be held at a separate session when the Centre of Digital Services was available.

·         Breakdown of the additional £4.5m capital funding allocation (rounded figures): 

o    £300,000 to BMX to increase ramp size via Major Events Unit 

o    £1.3m to FAW direct.

o    £1.5m through additional 13 projects from the EOI submissions

o    £1.2m additional to the ATP collaboration group with FAW, WRU and Hockey Wales

See minutes of Diversity & Inclusion Committee’s meeting of 10 February for more details.

4.    Chair & Executive report – SW(22)01

Members noted the report to which the following was added:

·       Chair recruitment: A report on the appointable candidates was before the Deputy Minister and Select Committee. News of a decision over the next month was anticipated.

·       Football Association of Wales (FAW): DCMS would award the entire sum to FAW. This year 30% would be allocated to multisport targeting areas of deprivation and increase/diversify participation. The percentage next year will be 40%. The CEO sat on the scrutiny panel. DCMS had advertised for EOIs for managing the process but there was no payment to go with it. The independent governance review report was due out shortly.

·       The Senedd Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee was conducting an inquiry into participation in sport in disadvantaged areas. It would be considering issues affecting people in areas shown to be relatively deprived according to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. The consultation on participation in sport in disadvantaged areas would run until 18 March.

·       Marine Accident Investigation Board’s review of the Stand-up Paddleboarding incident at Haverfordwest in October 2021: Emerging thoughts were leading towards the need for separate governance and training for the two types of paddleboarding, inland and off-shore.

·       New Year’s Honours List: The Vice Chair asked Members to promote this within their networks. Sport Wales did not make nominations directly as the organisation was consulted the nominations by the UK Cabinet Office.

5.    Youth Panel report

The Youth Panel last met on 25 January and its Chair highlighted the main areas of focus:

·         School Sport Survey terminology amendments

·         Working relationship with Children’s Commissioner Office

·         Visibility – Youth Panel Representation in Sport Wales Annual Review

·         Input to work of education, community focussed schools, new curriculum, and PE delivery

The Board and CEO thanked the Panel for their invaluable contribution to these areas of work.

Some Panel Members hoped to continue for a second year and they were analysing what Members wanted to get out of the role on a longer-term basis.  Board Members were available to act as mentors or to suggest others within their networks for this role. Those Panel Members who wanted to follow this up were asked to put together their biographies and areas of interest and career development for matching with potentially suitable mentors.

6.    Policy & Strategy

6.1        Business Plan 2021/22 Q3 report – SW(22)02

This report gave an update for 2021/22 activity and delivery against the business plan and outlined future actions developed from that work. The two business plan priority areas highlighted were:

·         Health – identifying the key opportunities (and secure additional investment) for sport to deliver upon the Welsh Government’s Healthy Weight Healthy Wales strategic priorities.

·         Increase the focus across the organisation on Birmingham 2022 to maximise the opportunities for a UK based Commonwealth Games presence for sport in Wales.

Resilience of the sector was discussed. Com Res survey data evidenced how increased inequality was the major result of the pandemic. In terms of how clubs had weathered the storm, some had fared better than others.  The Welsh Sports Association (WSA) had set up a forum to look at resilience within the sector. Sport Wales would focus on a behaviour change campaign as there were still partners with unrealistic expectations and over-reliance on public funding. The whole sector would need to think differently in the post-pandemic period.

6.2        Business Plan 2022/23 – SW(22)03

For the Business Plan in 2022/23 the agile approach would continue with monthly Leadership meetings reflecting on what worked well and what should be learned. More time would be spent on operationalising the Business Plan across the organisation, empowering staff to work together to maximise individual and collective contributions. This would encourage collaboration and accountability, empower strategic leads and other staff working on key projects and allow planning, learning and the refining of plans to happen in an agile and responsive way.

The Remit letter and accompanying budget was received in December and covered the three-year Programme for Government (PfG) period. This was a welcome change, enabling Sport Wales to plan on a longer-term basis.  The Leadership team had identified the focus areas for the second and third years and these items would be subject to ongoing review.  The next steps were to submit the Business Plan to the Welsh Government for approval, to communicate the plan to key stakeholders, engage staff and map out actions, review resources on an ongoing basis to ensure the right areas of work were prioritised, and manage any risks to delivery through the existing risk management process.  Qualitative and quantitative reporting would be given to both the Welsh Government and the Board. Members approved the Business Plan.

Discussion points:

·         The full communications plan will be shared with Board Members when available.

·         The Remit letter is far more prescriptive than in the past, however the Welsh Government is taking this approach across the public sector.

·         The sports sector is not articulating itself clearly enough and there is a role for WSA to improve that position and help drive behavioural change.

·         It will be very challenging to deliver on the Remit letter within the available resources. Opportunities to tap into the Welsh Government’s resources from other divisions will be investigated as there are many cross-programme commitments.

·         The delivery of sport through the medium of Welsh needs a wider network of partners. FAW’s bilingual coaching module was praised.

·         Consider engaging with the Disability Task Force.

·         Look at how Sport Wales is placed as a sector leader. There are reasons to increase external knowledge of Sport Wales and its vision and strategy.

6.3        Budget 2022/23 – SW(22)04

This paper outlined the proposed Sport Wales revenue budget for 2022/23 based on the draft Welsh Government settlement.  The paper referenced the budget setting process, the key assumptions, and choices that the Executive team considered in developing the budget.

·         The three-year settlement included a modest revenue rise. However, given that inflation was currently running at 5.4%, the 2022/23 budget was in effect a real terms reduction. The revenue uplift of £329k did not cover the increase in employee related costs arising from the pension top up payment, national insurance increase and pay award.

·         The three-year settlement for capital expenditure was £8m per year.

·         Sport Wales’ allocation of net National Lottery income was a fixed percentage (currently 0.9%) and this was accrued in an earmarked fund. The budget assumed that there would be a more ‘normal’ distribution of grant funding in 2022/23.

·         The budget was aligned with the Business Plan and all areas of work reflected EDI and the Future Generations Act.

There would be real pressure on Sport Wales to deliver on the Remit letter within this level of resources.  A higher award had been hoped for which would have given an opportunity to deliver more through the new Sport Partnerships. A stronger, more robust stance was suggested because such partnerships were going to be key to deliver the EDI remit. Members approved the budget.

6.4        Future Office Working Environment – SW(22)05

Following staff surveys and a review of practices during the pandemic period, the Executive were recommending that maintaining broad principles rather than adopting a prescriptive structure for the working environment would allow the organisation to react to feedback and develop its approach based on the needs of both the individual and organisation. A continuance of pilot measures was recommended for April to October, giving the Leadership team the responsibility of arranging a blend of regular office and home working that was appropriate for each team.  Booking office space would continue using the hot desk calendar and a working group would look at space reconfiguration.  A calendar of strategic and social events would be put together.

While the principles outlined in the paper were intended to be long-term and underpin a more strategic approach, the future office environment was intrinsically linked to a decision regarding the future of the Sport Wales National Centre, which the Facilities Review Group was determining.   

Members approved the recommended principles and arrangements for the pilot approach.

Discussion points:

·         Pre-booking space more than two weeks in advance would be advantageous.

·         Support must be given to the Leadership team around conversations with staff.

·         Using shared office space would require a protocol to ensure equal and fair access.

·         Ensure there is good reason to ask people to come into the office and be sympathetic to their home situations and distances travelled.

·         Continuing a blended approach would help increase diversity among the workforce.

·         Risk assessments and Health & Safety protocols were applied to home working.

6.5        Education update – creating an active education system – SW(22)06

An update was provided on the work to support increased levels of physical activity for all pupils across the school day.  There were two aspects covered by the paper:

o    The pilots/pathfinders - the progress made with the funding received from Education as part of the summer of fun/winter of wellbeing initiative

o    Recent developments in establishing a Daily Active Steering Group to being together a coordinated, long term approach to supporting increased levels of physical activity.

There was a recognition that, due to the number of initiatives being developed, there was potential for confusion and a risk that the various works streams were not joined up.  Sport Wales had been asked to chair a Daily Active Steering Group tasked with making recommendations to the Deputy Minister for Mental Health & Wellbeing on a framework to support increased levels of physical activity across the whole school day - getting to school, during lessons, at play times, and after school. 

A Daily Active PID - Project Initiation Document was recently agreed by the steering group, and there would be an immediate focus on the first two steps:

1.     Understanding the international evidence and best practice.

2.     Mapping the current provision, policies and approaches being taken across Wales. 

3.     Developing sub-groups to lead on core components of the offer.

4.    Development of a range of funding options for Ministers to consider next steps. 

5.     Development of approach across Wales, with timeframes being discussed, but the expectation from Ministers to drive forward at pace.

Pathfinders: Sport Wales had invested £235k in 12 pathfinders across Wales, taking place during the spring and summer terms. External evaluation of this pilot was currently out to tender. Evaluation would help identify how the pilot helped to address, and hopefully reverse, negative impacts of the pandemic. Pathfinders was launched before the first Sport Partnership, Sport North Wales, was in a position to be involved, but this was now being aligned with them.

Over the coming months staff would revisit the work done with the Education sector to further understand the impact Sport Wales could make and the unique role it could play. A further update would be brought to the Board again in July.

6.6        School Sport Survey – SW(22)07

Following an extensive consultation process, the survey would be shorter, simpler and easier to complete and would focus on questions which were of the most use and relevance to Sport Wales and its partners. The survey methodology and its results had to be trustworthy and used to prompt meaningful change. The list of changes considered through the pilot included designing an Easy Read format for the survey, reviews to the ethnicity and disability focused questions, an updated list of sports to reflect the comprehension of children’s understanding, a reintroduction of the frequency of sport question and a priority for that and other investment aligned questions within the survey structure. There was also consideration given to the questions relating to confidence, motivation and barriers to sport that will help schools and partners in targeting their delivery offers.

The Insight team would shortly stage a webinar to explain the changes and the survey will go live from April to July. Analysis of the findings would take place over August and September, with results anticipated in late September at a national level. A series of communications and public affairs actions were planned over the following months before a post survey evaluation and consultation was implemented early in 2023. The way the ethnicity question was to be asked was shared with Members following this meeting.

6.7        Board Effectiveness – SW(22)08

The previous effectiveness review was held in November 2020 and an action plan agreed at the Board’s meeting in February 2021. This recent review would be followed by the annual updating of the skills matrix which was a useful tool to help Sport Wales make the best use of Members’ skills and widened engagement beyond just the Chair and Vice Chair.

Appointments to the Board continued to be the responsibility of the Welsh Government. They used the skills matrix as part of their recruitment process and most recently staff had taken part in the interview process. Members asked for more informal discussions in between meetings, a suggestion to be put to the new incoming Chair once appointed, as well as firming up plans for a Board away day.

7.    Finance & Risk

7.1        Finance report Apr-Dec 2021 – SW(22)09

Revenue spend for the period totalled £21.57m against a budget profile of £21.95m. The Welsh Government allocated a further £2m to the Capital fund which now totalled £7m.

Sport Wales’ Crowdfunding scheme was launched in September and to date, 12 pledges had been accepted and £43k paid out. The BAWF Fund Progress strand had paid out £1.5m to date. The BAWF Protect strand was still open, but demand had significantly reduced compared to prior year applications. To date, £241k had been awarded.

Following the Welsh Government announcement of the Winter of Wellbeing Scheme, an addendum was received in November for £1m to give grants to partners. A further addendum for £300k was received in November for Active Education Pathway/Community Focussed Schools.

There were adjustments to the process and amounts received for health-related schemes which were overseen by the Public Health Division, as detailed in the report.

Lottery expenditure totalled £12.95m against a budget of £13.62m. Lottery funding was on a rolling basis with no limit at year-end of the amount held with DCMS or within the Lottery bank account (within reasonable level). National Lottery tickets sales had continued to be strong, and above DCMS budgeted expectation for this financial year. Sport Wales received 0.9% from the Good Causes fund, which equated to approximately £1.35m income per month. 

Meetings had been held with senior staff to identify any underspends or cost pressures.  The Head of Finance confirmed that monies would be spent up by the year end.

7.2        Partner Investments – SW(22)10

In November 2020 the Board acknowledged that Covid19 had put significant pressures on the sport sector and agreed partners funding would be protected as much as possible for two years. 2022/23 would be the final year of protection and in 2023/24 the final aspect of the investment model would be implemented. Sport Wales would work with partners to transition to the new investment levels to be fully implemented in 2025/26 as previously agreed.

Work had commenced on developing appropriate criteria for partners where data was not readily accessible, and it was expected to be ready to bring to the Board at the next meeting in May.

All partners requesting funding were required to meet the essential criteria within the Capability Framework. With the introduction of a new UK Anti–Doping (UKAD) policy, Sport Wales had been working with UKAD and all National Governing Bodies to ensure this element of the framework was in place prior to funding being released to partners.

A request had been made to the Welsh Government for flexibility of carry over and more detail would follow about how funding would be apportioned in response to that decision.

Members approved the recommended partner investments for 2022/23.

8.    Board Groups & Standing Committee reports

8.1        Summary of Sub-Group Meetings – SW(22)11

To summarise the discussions and decisions of the Board’s subgroup meetings since the previous Board meeting.  The updates given reflected the following meetings:

·         Audit & Risk Assurance Committee, met on 17 December, Hywel Tudor appointed as an Independent Member

·         Remuneration Committee, met on 19 January and approved a pay award of 2% for 2021/22.

·         Sport Partnerships Project Board, met on 1 February and noted the formation of Sport Partnerships across Wales was making good progress.

·         Strategic Capital Investments Group, met on 4 February, approved terms of reference and scope of work, overview of capital expenditure in 2021/22.

·         Equality Diversity & Inclusion Committee , met on 10 February, approved a new high-level post for EDI focus, overview of relationship scoping and mapping EDI delivery.

·         Facilities Review Group, met on 14 February, consultants appointed for investigating future options for SWNC. In respect of the commissioned partner for Plas Menai, a ‘blind’ SQ assessment would take place on 4 March.

8.2        Terms of Reference for the Remuneration Committee and Audit & Risk Assurance Committee – SW(22)12

Members agreed the changes to the terms of reference for both Committees.

9.    Any Other Business

No issues were raised.

10.Dates of next meetings

13 May*, 15 July*, 16 September and 25 November 2022

*Subsequently rescheduled for 6 May and 29 July

The minutes were approved at the Board’s meeting on 6 May 2022.