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  4. Minutes of the Sport Wales Board meeting on Friday 17 February 2023 held at the Sport Wales National Centre

Minutes of the Sport Wales Board meeting on Friday 17 February 2023 held at the Sport Wales National Centre

PRESENT: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (Chair), Pippa Britton (Vice Chair) (Items 5.5-9), Ashok Ahir, Ian Bancroft, Rajma Begum, Hannah Bruce, Dafydd Davies, Delyth Evans, Nicola Mead-Batten, 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, Sarah Walters, Amanda Thompson (minutes). External: Neil Welch (Welsh Government), Jac Chapman (Youth Panel Chair)

1.   Welcome/apologies for absence

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting. The Board were saddened by news of the sudden death of the First Minister’s wife and would send condolences.

2.   Declaration of interests

·       Ian Bancroft, regarding his position as CEO of Wrexham Council

·       Rajma Begum recently joined the Anti Racist Wales Action accountability group

·       Martin Veale’s spouse Cath Janes joined the Rugby World Cup (communications team) in 1998 and then the WRU press team which she left in 2002.

·       Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson would co-chair Yorkshire Cricket until March.

·       Hannah Bruce, as a staff member of England Cricket Board left the meeting for Item 5.4.

3.   Minutes of the last meeting dated 25 November 2022

The minutes were accepted as a true and accurate record.

Matters arising:

·       Marine Accident Investigation Branch: their report had been received, there were three recommendations relevant to the HCSCs with actions to be applied to relevant sports in Wales.

·       Youth Panel:  The CEO met with the Children’s Commissioner. She suggested a range of options which the Chair and JC had subsequently discussed and would progress.

·       At a recent meeting for Daily Active all three Ministers were supportive and had asked for a joint funding proposal to take this forward for all school age children.

4.   Chair & Executive report – SW(23)01

Members noted the report and the following was added:

·       National Lottery Licence: a meeting to be held on 28 February which will detail how the transition period will be run.

·       Sport Summit’s next steps: A collegiate leadership approach to be taken with the formation of a group with partners to take forward the actions. The positioning of Sport Wales was discussed with differing views as to whether the organisation should take a ‘back or front seat’ role. The EDI Committee had concluded that Sport Wales should have a supportive role but not to be front and centre of it as this would help new voices to be heard. It was suggested that more thought be given to how best to utilise volunteer input and more detail given on how the next steps link to Sport Wales’ wider events strategy.

·       Senedd Committee 15 February: The Chair and CEO were concerned that Sport Wales was mistakenly seen as having a regulatory role and would write to the Committee to clarify this. It was felt that questioning was more political in nature than fact finding.

·       The new finance system was live and the CEO thanked staff for their endeavours. The contract included project support and implementation planning with technical assistance to help migrate data and to monitor the system’s operation and data protection. There would be internal audit report follow up.

·       DCMS had discussed the increased cost of living impact on swimming pools. The UK Government would not reclassify pools but would hopefully include assistance within future budgeting plans. The Deputy Minister had added her support and understood the issue.

5.   Policy & Strategy

5.1        Business plan 2022/23 report – SW(23)02

This report updated the Board on progress against this year’s business plan. Appendix 3 Key Success Indicators was discussed.  Discussion points:

·       More detail is needed to explain how the outcome has been achieved.

·       Review the use of the terms qualitative and quantitative.

·       There is no entry beyond 2022/23 for Health & Wellbeing as the remit letter is precise about the role of Sport Wales for social prescribing and the Welsh Government has not determined yet what future years will look like.

·       Risk and mitigation section needs more explanation regarding the use of resources, balance of work and staffing capacity to give the required assurance.

·       Though the language used is soft and the approach non-regulatory Sport Wales must assert itself as a strong challenger.

·       There needs to be more added to address the Anti Racist Action Plan in the same vein as for LGBTQ+ equalities and the work done for TRARIIS.

·       Add to the statistics for the Welsh Language the number of people who are learning Welsh.

·       There needs to be more clarity over the offer to young people and how the work is tracked.

·       Tracking against the governance framework is not referenced.

·       The headings align with the remit letter, however what does not come across strongly enough is how the delivery and outcomes help to make Wales a more active nation. This would help clarify the role of Sport Wales.

5.2        Business Plan 2023/24 (Draft) – SW(23)03

This report outlined the proposed business plan for 2023/24. The six priority areas of EDI, Sport Partnerships, Health & Wellbeing, Education, Inclusive Sport System and Environmental Sustainability remained unchanged. The recommended projects of significance were the hybrid working strategy, organisational performance framework, mitigation of the risks to the sports sector from the rise in the cost of living, strategic capital investment and the review of the Sport Wales National Centre.

It was suggested that Plas Menai be highlighted under partnerships and that 21st century schools be changed to sustainable communities for learning. Members approved the draft business plan.

5.3        Budget 2023/24 – SW(23)04

This report outlined the proposed revenue budget for 2023/24 based on the draft Welsh Government settlement. References were made to the budget setting process, the key assumptions and choices that the Executive considered when developing the budget. Members’ questions were answered and there was concern that the budgeting for 2% pay award was low. Members approved the budget.

5.4        Partner investments 2023/24 – SW(23)05

This report outlined the investments to partners in 2023/24. The position of each partner against the capability framework was shown. Volleyball and Rugby Union did not meet the essential elements of the framework and/or had outstanding requirements and would not be funded until those requirements were met. The position of sports needing two rounds of data had yet to be formally confirmed.

Green rated sports were based on a presumption of meeting the criteria by the end of March but no funding would be given until confirmed.

The capability framework currently focussed on the ‘hard governance’ (policies and procedures) that partners were required to have for funding.  Work was being developed across Sport Wales and other HCSC to look at the softer governance (behaviours) and how they could be developed.

Members approved the partner investments for 2023/24

5.4.1    The Football Association of Wales ‘Team Sports’ letter dated 10/02/23 to reconsider the investment model was discussed.

The process to adopt the investment model had been thoroughly scrutinised by the Board and also reviewed by the internal auditors.  Members were unapologetic about the reasons Sport Wales was changing the investment model which was done in response to the remit letter and the need to do create a more equal, diverse and inclusive sport sector. In addition, the investment model had been discussed with the Deputy Minister who was content with this being the decision of Sport Wales with the responsibility to monitor it and respond accordingly.

Partners must meet the criteria set by the capability framework before an investment is made. Sport Wales had determined that investment must reflect the stated needs of the people of Wales with a particular emphasis on children and young people and tackling stubborn inequalities in sports participation.  The approach also helped build the capacity of those partner organisations to deliver it. Partners were also supported through other channels such as Be Active Wales and capital investment.

The Executive confirmed that all the points raised in the letter had been previously discussed with the sports.  No new, additional points had been raised in the letter and no further evidence had been provided by the sports to back up the points raised.

Board noted that a robust approach to transition planning has been put in place to support all partners and Sport Wales has been transparent about the thinking, planning, scrutiny of the model, criteria, principles and timescales. All partners were sighted on this in good time to prepare themselves. It was noted the letter had not been signed by the Welsh Rugby Union and this point was being clarified. The Chair had spoken to sports mentioned in the letter on previous occasions and their responses had been quite different.

The School Sport Survey was one of the largest surveys of children in the world and the data collected informed the investment process. The previous adult survey had been superseded by the National Survey of Wales as required by the Welsh Government. Any widening of data capturing would need to be aligned with the Future Generations Act and would require additional resourcing.

The Board reaffirmed its commitment to the investment model to support the development of a more equal, diverse and inclusive sport sector in Wales.

5.5        Partner Investment Principles Driven approach - Disability Sport Wales – SW(23)06

As requested at the last Board meeting in November 2022, this report provided additional information and insight to inform the decision as to whether Disability Sport Wales (DSW) should be included as a National Partner within the recently approved Principles Driven Investment approach. Three Board members had acted as “critical friends” to this work and their input had been very helpful in determining the way forward.  The additional information gathered through this exercise confirmed that DSW should be considered as a National Partner, with an acknowledgement of the unique and specific role DSW plays in supporting high performance athletes with a disability.

The following key discussion points were highlighted;

·       Board members were concerned about the indicated level of change in funding to DSW, the potential reputational risk, and wanted further reassurance on how the principles driven approach would work in practice.

·       All partners have a responsibility to create a more equal, diverse and inclusive sport.  Whilst DSW had a lead role in supporting disabled people being active through sport, all other partners also had a significant role to play.

·       DSW has previously communicated that their future role needs to be different. The overall challenge is how DSW adapts to deliver what is expected of them on an indicative lower level of investment and how other partners take responsibility for delivering sport and physical activities to disabled people.

·       All partners must adopt an intersectional approach to support those who face the greatest barriers to being active. Intersectional impact will require ongoing monitoring as although there is an expectation on all partners to create inclusive sport offers, there is concern that this may not happen in reality – the accountability approach is key to managing this.

·       Whether additional funding could be made available to National Partners in support of the role they play in supporting inclusive sport opportunities.

·       All National Partners have now had details of the new approach via engagement sessions and follow up information.

·       Indicative scoring has not been shared - the final scoring process will be in April. An application route was not used because staff are using an approach based on relationships, capability progress and learning. Data has been collected through that means and not by form. Staff suggested that a Board member be included as a ‘critical friend’ as part of the scoring and scrutiny process.

·       Further work was being planned to support the implementation of the principles driven approach. For example, it was noted that it would be useful to have more financial expertise to help partners adopt more commercial outlooks.

Members approved the recommendation that DSW remain as a National Partner within the Principles Driven Investment approach, with the exception of the performance element of funding which would be protected for the next investment cycle to allow DSW and Sport Wales to work together to identify DSW’s future long-term role in this regard. 

5.6        Environmental Sustainability Plan – SW(23)07

The report asked for approval of the first Sport Wales Environmental Sustainability Plan, developed in partnership with the Carbon Trust. Quantifying the impact of some of the actions would require external assistance. Decarbonisation was the first phase of the plan and tracking the impact of carbon reductions included home working. It was suggested that Sport Wales help signpost sports clubs to assistance when there was not the skills to do it for themselves. Members approved the plan.

5.7        Tailored Review Process – SW(23)08

This report provided an update on the Welsh Government’s Public Bodies Unit’s plans for a tailored review of all sponsored bodies. Members noted the report.

6.   Finance & Risk

6.1        Risk Appetite & Corporate Risk Register – SW(23)09

Members approved the updated risk appetite which contained no major changes.  On the Corporate Risk Register risks for cyber security continued with a low appetite and medium residual risk level. The impact of the rising cost of living remained at high risk.

6.2        Finance 2022/23 Month 10 report – SW(23)10

The report provided a summary of the financial position of Sport Wales for the ten months ended 31st January 2023. The figures were based on draft internal management accounts and excluded adjustments for statutory reporting requirements. Members noted the report.

7.   Board Groups & Standing Committee reports

7.1        Summary of Groups & Standing Committee meetings – SW(23)11

The report summarised the key issues and decisions taken by these meetings since the previous Board meeting in November.  The Chair and the Chair of the Audit & Risk Assurance Committee wrote to the Auditor General in January to voice concerns over the uncertainty of the period when Audit Wales would carry out the audit of the 2022/23 accounts but no response had been received. It was expected that the accounts would be signed off at the Board’s meeting in September rather than in July.

7.2        Public Sector Duties report – SW(23)12

The report summarised the specific statutory responsibilities and provided a high-level update on key actions and staff responsible. Members noted the report.

7.3        Corporate Governance Manual/ARAC Terms of Reference – SW(23)13

The report provided an update following review of the Corporate Governance Manual and Audit & Risk Assurance Committee’s terms of reference. Members noted the report.

8.   Any Other Business

·       The Chair of UK Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger, would visit the Board’s meeting in July.

·       The British Paralympic Board was organising their board meeting in Swansea in July and there may be an opportunity for meeting with them socially.

9.   Dates of next meetings

12 May, 7 July, 22 September, 24 November 2023

The minutes were approved at the Board’s meeting on 12 May 2023