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Board Minutes September 2023

Meeting of the Sport Wales Board on Friday 22 September 2023 at Wrexham University

PRESENT: Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (Chair), Pippa Britton (Vice Chair), Ashok Ahir, Ian Bancroft, Hannah Bruce, Dafydd Davies, Delyth Evans, Nicola Mead-Batten, Professor Leigh Robinson, Judi Rhys, Alison Thorne, Martin Veale

STAFF: Brian Davies (CEO), Graham Williams, Emma Wilkins, Liam Hull, Rachel Davies, Owen Hathway, Owen Lewis, James Owens & Neil Emberton (Item 5.3), Joanne Nicholas (Item 5.4), Ellen Todd (Item 5.5), Amanda Thompson (minutes) 

Staff Observers: Claire Barlow, Deborah Mahon, Steve Williams, Zaynub Akbar

External: Neil Welch (Welsh Government), Steve Wyndham (Audit Wales) (Item 6.1), Eloise Stringemore (Step to Non Exec)

1. Welcome/Apologies for absence

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting. Apologies for absence were received from Phil Tilley and Rajma Begum.  The Chair formally thanked outgoing Members Ashok Ahir, Alison Thorne and Pippa Britton for their commitment to the Board over the past six years. She also congratulated Ian Bancroft on his appointment as Vice Chair. 

2. Declaration of interests (if new)

Delyth Evans, appointed as a Trustee of Urdd Gobaith Cymru

Alison Thorne, appointed to the Board of the Welsh Rugby Union

Ian Bancroft, in his capacity as Chief Executive of Wrexham County Borough Council. 

3. Minutes of the last meetings

3.1 Correction to the minutes of the meeting of 12 May 2023

Since the minutes of the Board’s meeting of 12 May 2023 were approved and published online, a correction had been made which now showed as tracked changes on the published minutes. The corrected text was approved by the Chair, Vice Chair and CEO. This was with regards to Item 5.2 British Ju Jitsu Derecognition – SW(23)16. The recommendation to derecognise BJJAGB was agreed by the UK Recognition Panel. Members would wait to hear the opinions of all other HCSC Boards before publicising its decision. 

3.2 Minutes of the last meeting of 7 July 2023, action log and matters arising

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as a true and accurate record. There were no matters arising. All actions had been completed.

4. Chair & Executive Report – SW(23)28

The CEO added the following to the report:

  • WRU Review – Sport Wales had now been interviewed, the review was drawing to an end.
  • Recent meetings with the various Commissioners had been very productive. The Children’s Commissioner supported the Daily Active offer. She was also prioritising addressing travel issues for young people. The Older People’s Commissioner’s focus was on digital poverty but she did ask for the upward age band in the Activity Tracker survey used by Sport Wales to be amended. The Welsh Language Commissioner was keen for more NGBs to reach the standard of Cynnig Cymraeg and Sport Wales would raise this at next NGBs CEO Forum.
  • DCMS Strategy & Call for Evidence:The UK Government, via DCMS, launched its strategy on 30 August, ‘Get Active: a strategy for the future of sport and physical activity’ and Sport Wales would be providing evidence in some fashion around the integrity landscape.
  • Child Poverty Strategy: Sport Wales would align this with its own business plan and objectives so as not to create anything separate.
  • TRARIIS event would be held online only due to planned rail strikes.
  • Sport Partnerships: The formation of the West Wales Sport Partnership was excellent news.
  • Staffing:Owen Lewis appointed as Director of Sport Systems and Jess Williams as Head of Service & Partner Development. Liam Hull would shortly take up a new position with Merthyr Council and Amanda Thompson was retiring at the end of October.
  • Wales Activity Tracker: the first update since Savanta’s three year contract began.
  • Commonwealth Games: The CGF was prepared to delay the next Games to 2027 if necessary whilst a replacement was sought for Victoria. However, competing nations were less favourable of any delay. The recent Youth Games were very successful.
  • At the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame dinner in September the Chair hosted a table of all-female guests. The event continues to work on being more inclusive.
  • UK Sport’s system master planning – discussions that hopefully will lead to tangible operational collaborations, though the separate organisations have very different objectives. This needs to align with other work.  LR would share examples of shared services.

5. Policy & Strategy

5.1 Data Driven Investment Approach Evaluation – SW(23)29

This paper outlined the remit and objectives of the ongoing evaluation of the Investment Model aligned to the data-driven NGB partners. 

  • Once evaluation was complete the findings would be analysed. This evaluation focused on impact.
  • The relevant impact assessment was the one completed for the Investment Model.
  • Stage 1-4 of the proposal would be shared with the appropriate audiences in the future at the appropriate time.
  • The level of risk was ascertained previously, though there may be heightened risk should there be any change to the Welsh Government’s budget settlement.
  • The next step was to work on messaging and sharing information going forward.

Members approved the evaluation approach. 

5.2 SWNC Future Facility – Outline Business Case – SW(23)30

The Board’s deep-dive session on this topic was held on 1 August and the paper was discussed in full at the Sports Council of Wales Trust meeting on 22 September. Members approved the Outline Business Case and the direction of travel, project planning pace and next steps. 

5.3 Anti-Doping Update – SW(23)31

This paper provided an update on the current work in relation to anti-doping in sport, specifically the UK National Anti-Doping Policyand its assurance framework. It was agreed that Leigh Robinson would continue as the Board’s champion until the end of her term of office in 2024 and Nicola Mead-Batten would replace Pippa Britton as deputy lead. Training was offered by UKAD and there were monthly meetings which included review of risk.  Sport Wales’ internal group would now be refreshed. The group met annually to review how Sport Wales met the requirements. 

5.4 Partner Progress & Learning Q1 Review – SW(23)32

This paper provided an April to June update on the progress and learning of partners against the accountability framework.  The main highlight was the impact of the work and how Sport Wales was delivering in response. The shift hoped for was for partners to work more collaboratively together, sharing best practice and avoiding duplication. There had been an increase in partners using data and evaluation to inform their approach, and performance and strategy reviews undertaken. 

Partners had asked for more support to assist with community club development, which would be investigated further. In Mid and West Wales there was an impression that sports would not want to work with the local authorities and that costs would be a barrier to participation. The Sports Partnerships in those regions would be seeking a more diverse range of partners. The Young Farmers had highlighted lack of services in their areas. Sports were finding it challenging to provide activity in lower populated areas especially in light of rising costs. 

The main risks involved partners competing against each other and some reporting burdensome processes with safeguarding which required further analysis. There had been an increase in vacancies on boards with some partners finding it more difficult than others to recruit. Sport Wales continued to evolve the accountability approach and this report to Board would continue as an information paper. 

The role of Sport Wales was discussed, whether it was an enabler rather than provider, and whether to procure services on behalf of others collectively. 

5.5 British Biathlon Union – recognition – SW(23)33

This paper made recommendations on the application for recognition from the British Biathlon Union (BBU).  Recognition meant clubs would be able to access support to establish themselves and there would be a national governing body to work with in the future. The sport could not fall under snow sports’ leadership because the IOC required a separate NGB for independent sports recognised at Olympic/Paralympic level. Sport Wales had spoken with other HCSCs.  Members approved the recommendation to recognise BBN. 

5.6 Sporting Heritage – presentation

Pippa Britton gave a presentation on Sporting Heritage which was established in 2006. The project involved the conservation of sporting achievements at all levels and was considered important as it had the potential to attract interest from people not involved in sport and inspire them. It would be a good way of digitally connecting with local archives. Sport Wales would provide advocacy and Crowdfunder rather than become a direct investor. 

6. Finance & Risk

6.1 Statutory Accounts – SW(23)34

This report included the Statutory Accounts 2022/23; SCW Consolidated; SCW Trust; Lottery; Audit Wales ISA260; National Audit Office ISA260.  EW thanked the Finance Team for their work to get the accounts produced on time and thanked the wider contributions from the Corporate, Insights and Communications teams. 

EW highlighted the key points in the cover paper and the new ISA315 process. The documents had been reviewed by the Audit & Risk Assurance Committee who noted the accounts were substantially completed satisfactorily but required some narrative adjustments regarding the audit of the local government pension fund. 

SW of Audit Wales confirmed that the audit of the pension fund to give assurances was outstanding as an anomaly had been found and two sets of information had not been corroborated. This involved two random samples taken from Sport Wales staff. Further sample testing had not found any further anomalies and to date the problem could not be explained so Audit Wales had referred investigation to the pension fund’s software supplier and the actuary AON. Until the anomaly was resolved Audit Wales could not certify the accounts. 

The original information given to the pension fund by Sport Wales was factually correct, and it was hoped the software supplier would solve the issue quickly.  Members were frustrated that the lateness of Audit Wales’ work meant the issue could not have been resolved in good time before the accounts were due to be signed off. Audit Wales confirmed that this seemed to be a unique occurrence with little or no precedence (other than the McCloud issue in 2018/19) and not involving any other organisation. The impact of it would be assessed by the actuary. 

National Audit Office’s review was also delayed though it had been due to be finished in time for this meeting. The cause of the delay was not known though it was suspected that the pension scheme anomaly had either distracted their staff or caused reprioritisation. Because of the Parliamentary recess dates, the Lottery accounts would not be laid before Parliament until after 16 October. 

As the anomaly did not affect the Sports Council of Wales Trust, Members approved these accounts. 

ACTION:       Authority to sign off the Statutory Accounts, Consolidated and Lottery was delegated to the Chair with the materiality threshold. 

6.2 Finance 2022/23 Month 5 report – SW(23)35

Sport Wales had paid the non-consolidated one-off payment of £1,500 to staff (inclusive of Plas Menai staff who met the time period criteria). This had taken up the surplus previously recorded. 

Budget reviews were ongoing, including looking at in-year spend and any risks plus an early start on 2024/25. The Crown Guarantee continued as an ongoing issue, resolution of it would help Sport Wales’ financial position enormously. 

In February the National Lottery licence would change to Allwyn and Lottery distributors would receive an update on this shortly. 

The CEO had been called to a meeting at short notice on 26 September regarding the Welsh Government’s budget for 2024/25. 

Regarding any pay award to staff this year, 2% had been build in to the budget, however anything larger had not been budgeted for. 

7. Board Groups & Standing Committee reports

7.3 Summary of Board Committees & Sub Groups – SW(23)36

The report summarised the key issues and decisions taken by these meetings since the previous Board meeting in July. Members noted the report and no issues were raised. 

7.2 Board Membership of Committees & Sub Groups – SW(23)37

The changes to the membership of these committees and groups were noted.  Phil Tilley had attended the Strategic Capital Investment Group on a guest basis so should not be referred to as a formal member of that group. 

8. Any Other Business

To investigate holding a Board meeting at a venue in West Wales over the forthcoming year.

9. Date of next meetings: 24 November 2023

16 February, 17 May, 12 July, 20 September, 22 November 2024

The minutes were scheduled to be approved by the Board and its next meeting on 22 November 2023.

The minutes were approved by the Board on 22 November 2023.