Clear Red Water

Rhodhri Morgan’s speech to the National Centre for Public Policy Swansea

11th December 2002

It’s a great pleasure to be here this evening and deliver a lecture marking the third anniversary of the National Centre for Public Policy in Swansea. Grateful to the organisers and to the audience for turning out in such numbers at this time of year.

Particularly grateful to Mike Sullivan and the Centre for providing an opportunity to make a statement about the social policy programmes which the Welsh Assembly Government has pursued over the past three and a half years, and to look forward to the ambitions which I would hope to see a second term achieve, if relected.

I have three main themes, which I hope to tackle with you this evening.

First, I want look at the widest canvas. As a socialist of the Welsh stripe, it won’t surprise you perhaps, if I suggest that the big picture for social policy lies in demographics and in economics.

Secondly, I want to spend sometime describing some of the major social policy achievements of the Assembly Government in health, education, in housing, inter-personal social services and community development and community safety. But as well as describing the specific areas of achievement, I hope to demonstrate to you the ideological underpinnings which link these programmes together. There are important principles, which the Assembly Government has pursued across the whole of our social policy agenda.

Third, I also want to look ahead a little. The social policy programme which will be on offer to the electorate of Wales in fourth month’s time will be an ambitious one, and a distinctive one. It will build on the record, which in any case is not inconsiderable in a short space of time and will carry that agenda forward in new and imaginative ways, while strengthening the alignment of governmental actions with the values of the people we all represent. It means doing things the Welsh way.

Demographics and Economics

We live in some strange times in Wales in terms of population change. The demographics present some particularly stark challenges for social policy. We have, at one and the same time, both the lowest birth rate and the lowest death rate for 150 years. It means, for example, that the capacity for creating and resourcing change and innovation in education is greater than in health, where the growth of an older, frailer population is generating huge demands upon health and social care services. This demographic timebomb implies that orthopaedic treatment demand will treble over the foreseeable future.

When demography and economics meet, then a whole series of further issues arise for social policy. In a number of service areas, the greatest challenge we face is no longer one of investment in new hospitals, whether with PFI or without. Our plans are clearly laid out for the next three years. The problem is recruiting staff. Application levels for a range of training courses for social welfare professionals have fallen fast in recent years. Social care staff are difficult to recruit and retain in a number of parts of Wales. We now live again in an era of historically low unemployment, where economic and lifestyle choices are more plentiful and the number of young people entering the labour forces is declining. That is the reverse of the situation in the 1980s. Jobs in the public sector, whether for graduates going into social work, nursing or into the less highly qualified areas of the caring professions not only were glad to take the jobs, they stayed in them. These days it is much more of a sellers’ market for those thinking of, or already in, the care professions. Shall I stay in nursing in the NHS? Shall I resign and come back via the agencies with more freedom to specify my shifts and with full recovery of my car parking costs? Shall I leave the NHS and go to work for Marks and Spencer? These are the new questions for us. They have been questions faced by London and the South East for several decades. Now they are questions for parts of Wales as well.

In so many ways the relationship between economic and social policy was one forged in the industrial revolution which took place in Wales two hundred years ago and which set the tone for industrialisation across Europe. It was in Wales that we saw unprecedented change during the 19th century where the impact of massive industrialisation in mining, quarrying, steel making created a new kind of society based on mass production. Mass industrialisation in those industries was a variant on the Northern English and Scottish experience, because it took place without creating a Welsh middle class. The newly created working class was thrown back on its own resources.

That was a society in which investment in industrialisation was the key driver for change. The development of social policy – such as it was – was something which followed the imperative of economic change. In a number of important ways, that legacy and that dialectic still apply in our nation at the start of the 21st century.

We have seen communities grow in Wales – in many cases from nothing at all a hundred and fifty years ago – to become significant centres of population with all the institutions and systems necessary to provide the complex network of local political and service organisations. We have also seen the same communities severely challenged by recent changes in fuel use, the switch from coal to oil to gas and the huge productivity gains in steel. This is the fabric of Welsh life with which we are all very familiar. This is the sometimes proud, sometimes agonising history of a nation built very largely on the efforts of working people in hard surroundings. This is the raw material, the social heritage out of which Welsh devolution has been created – and in which we can now make our own social policy in Wales, for Wales. Think of the Tower Colliery story as a microcosm of the problems and potentials facing Wales.

Indeed, that sense of Welsh communities as a test-bed for larger scale experimentation is paralleled in the way in which devolution itself has provided a ‘living laboratory’, in which different approaches to common problems can be worked out and applied. The development of Glas Cymru, for example, shows that exactly. The water supply industry has always been close to public consciousness in Wales. A not-for-profit company, run in the public interest, rather than in the interest of private shareholders, although with operations and customer services outsourced, has provided a solution which is both practical and which chimes in with the community’s sense of how such a basic necessity of daily life ought to be organised and provided. It is a step back from conventional privatisation. It is a historic compromise. It is a Welsh version of the so-called post-war consensus in the British body politic on the welfare state, higher education expansion, the post-war consensus which now seems such a distant memory.

Learning the lessons from the experiment which the Welsh living laboratory has provided ought to be a substantial asset during the second term of Assembly government – and one which members of this audience are very well placed to help draw out. The time-lag between real-world developments and lesson-learning, however, can be frustratingly long.

The level of unemployment is the starkest measure of exclusion. The fall in unemployment in the UK and in Wales has transformed the condition of society. It is a by-product of aggressive labour market policies in economic development both at Westminster and in Wales, that we have so roundly reversed the pessimism which gripped Western democracies in the 1980s. It has not happened in Germany. It has happened in the UK. We have not had to reabsorb some UK equivalent of East Germany. Nevertheless, unemployment in Wales peaked at over 168,000 in 1986, taking the year as a whole. The destruction this caused to individuals and families who lost hope was described by those who were not themselves affected as a price which was worth paying for the anti-inflationary discipline it imposed upon the economy more generally. Now we have the lowest unemployment for a generation.

The reports of the early 1990s – the Social Justice Commission or the Dahrendorf Report, for example – concentrated upon ways of tackling the problems of a society divided into the contented majority making up two thirds of the population and a full third living on the margins of, or outside, the mainstream either marginally employed, on short-term training courses or on welfare. In a number of important ways commercial services, in particular, began to realign themselves to take account of this growing gap between different sections of the population. There has, for example, been a flight of financial services from many of our most disadvantaged areas, leaving whole communities without the basic services of banks or building societies. Commercial lenders do not only prefer to concentrate upon profit-rich customers, they prefer to operate in profit-rich places. The rate of closure of bank branches accelerated during the 1990s, producing a decline of nearly 30% in the number of branches over a ten year period. The position in Wales reflects the general position. Evidence from the banking union, UNIFI, identified 31 bank closures in Wales during the year 2000 alone, each one located in an Objective One area, that is to say, in a part of Wales where poverty is already most pronounced.

Now that the tide of rising employment has come in, the reprovision of financial services lags behind. I think you can fairly describe this as market failure. It is the proper task of government to step in in those circumstances. It is the nature of that intervention in the Welsh context which I particularly wish to underline today. The emphasis which we have tried to inject into our policy making has been to look for innovative actions, rather than ones which simply imitate approaches adopted elsewhere. Thus our emphasis on credit unions has focused upon those additional services – in relation to fuel poverty, for example – which can draw individuals into membership. In the case of the closure of the Dewhirst factories in West Wales, for example, should we not make more of the benefits which could flow from greater use of co-operative and micro-credit solutions to meet economic and social need and exploit different market opportunities? Dewhirst workers include some highly skilled and motivated individuals with abilities which could be turned to their economic advantage if we were able to assist them through access to small amounts of capital or the marketing or infrastructural support to establish small, home-grown self-employment or cooperative businesses of their own. The demand for mass production clothing factories for the big chain stores may have migrated to Eastern Europe or North Africa, but niche markets for the needle industry skills certainly remain. Can we help Welsh workers fill those niches? I think we can.

More generally, I want to ensure that, in Wales, we take the fullest advantage of what is the economic and social opportunity of a generation to reach out to those individuals and communities who were allowed to go to the wall during the experiments of the 1980s. It is only 15 years ago that the strange breaking of the post war consensus and new orthodoxies of the time suggested that there was somehow no alternative to a high unemployment, low wage, socially divided future for Britain and America – the two thirds, one thirds society. This pair of Governments central and devolved has disproved that philosophy. Labour Market conditions in Wales have been transformed to take advantage of the 90-10 society. Poverty hasn’t been abolished – of course not. But people are being lifted out of poverty every week and not by winning the Lottery but by getting the job. The first job might not be much but if it’s the first job for ten years, it’s a revolution in the way of life. We need to reintegrate those who left school in the mid 1980s and got the impression that they were not needed by society. It is little surprise that despair and social dislocation were the result of such an experience. The lives of almost all our fellow citizens are shaped by a set of simple and shared ambitions – for a job which offers an income and an interest; for a place to live which is secure and stable; for someone to look after and to offer care in return. For young people, in particular, there has to be a believable chain of events which show how what happens in their lives today can lead to that sort of future. In too many places in Wales, that chain of attainability was broken. I am determined that we will not fail the best chance of a generation we now have to repair that damage and to create a better future.

Social Policy and the Welsh Assembly Government: achievements and principles

I draw this notion of the local and the cooperative to the surface because I want now to turn to my second main theme, the social policy achievements of the Welsh Assembly Government and, in particular, the principles which have grounded our actions in this field. In doing so, I will wish to say a little more about the issue of distinctiveness, the so-called ‘clear red water’, as the Guardian inevitably put it and which has emerged over the lifetime of my administration between the way in which things are being shaped in Wales and the direction being followed at Westminster for equivalent services.

There are always going to be those ideological fault-lines in the approaches to social welfare in post-war social policy in Britain – universalism against means-testing and the pursuit of equity against pursuit of consumer choice. The great reforms of the Labour Government of 1945 – 51 were by and large universalist – education for all and higher education opportunities for all, a National Health Service, full employment, family allowances, security in old age through an adequate state pension. On the other, has been the approach which motivated the Thatcher governments of the 1980s and 1990s in which state services were intended to be a change-over was reduced to a residual, safety-net role, helping only those who demonstrate the failure to be able to help themselves – a pauper service. The National Health Service reforms in the late 1980s started off down that road but ran into the buffers of public resistance and there are hints of its return now in the official opposition health policy in Westminster.

The actions of the Welsh Assembly Government clearly owe more to the traditions of Titmus, Tawney, Beveridge and Bevan than those of Hayek and Friedman. The creation of a new set of citizenship rights has been a key theme in the first four years of the Assembly – and a set of rights, which are, as far as possible:

  • Free at the point of use;
  • Universal, and
  • Unconditional.

While there will be other new provisions which are means-tested, such as Assembly Learning Grants, free services do bind a society together and make everyone feel that they are stakeholders in it.

Here are just five quick examples:

  • Free school milk for youngest children
  • ·a free nursery place for every three year old
  • Free prescriptions for young people in the age range 16-25.
  • Free entry to museums and galleries for all our citizens.
  • Free local bus travel for pensioners and disabled people.

Members of this audience will know very well the compelling argument that services which are reserved for the poor very quickly become poor services. That is why my administration has been determined to ensure a continuing stake in social welfare services for the widest possible range of our citizens. Universal services mean that we all have a reason for making such services as good as possible. Free access to social welfare services means that they become genuinely available to the full range of people in Wales, not simply those able to afford them.

In a second Assembly term, we will look to maintain this principle and to carry it further forward. We hope, for example, to be able to come to an agreement with local authorities on free access by children to swimming pools in local authority leisure centres.

Turning now to the tension between choice and equality, we begin from a fundamental commitment to the pursuit of equality. We are determined to a build Wales in which people have access to the services and support they need, wherever they happen to live, and whatever their income, ability, family circumstances, language or community background. Equality of provision must be underpinned by equality of access, and equality of opportunity. But most importantly of all, we match the emphasis on opportunity with what has been described as the fundamentally socialist aim of equality of outcome. Both elements are, of course, essential. Our Sure Start programme aims to provide children who happen to be born in disadvantaged families with the sort of start in stimulating life-chances which other, more fortunate, youngsters are able to take for granted. At the same time, the whole thrust of the Townsend Report into dealing with health inequalities in Wales, is upon bearing down upon those factors which cause ill health – poor housing, environmental degradation and so on – as well as improving ways in which we respond to illness and disease once it has taken hold.

The thread which links these, and all our other, social policy efforts together is a belief that a complex modern society such as ours can only operate effectively when held together by a powerful glue of social solidarity.

Indeed, our commitment to equality leads directly to a model of the relationship between the government and the individual which regards that individual as a citizen rather than as a consumer. Approaches which prioritise choice over equality of outcome rest, in the end, upon a market approach to public services, in which individual economic actors pursue their own best interests with little regard for wider considerations. The Assembly Government attaches a positive value both to diversity and innovation and also to responsiveness to the needs of users of public services. We firmly believe, however, that such receptivity is best achieved through strengthening the collective voice of the citizen – as, for example, in our decision to retain and strengthen Community Health Councils in Wales – rather than basing our services on a model of the user of public services as some sort of serial shopper, forever out there in the market place looking for the piece of education policy or health care which best meets their individual needs.

Indeed, I want to suggest to you that the theory of marketisation, when applied to social welfare, turns out to be badly flawed. My objection to the idea of Foundation Hospitals within the NHS is not simply that they will be accessed by those public service consumers who are already the most articulate and advantaged, and who can specify where they want to be treated, but that the experiment will end, not with patients choosing hospitals, but with hospitals choosing patients. The well-resourced producer will be choosing the well-resourced consumer as the kind of patient they want – the grammar school equivalent in hospitals. In other words, in welfare markets, producer-choice, rather than consumer-choice is too likely to be the outcome. That is why the comprehensive school era is not coming to an end in Wales. Selection of pupils by new specialist or faith schools is not the path we intend to encourage. It fails a test which we try to apply to all our policy development at the Welsh Assembly Government, of meeting the wider public interest.

At this point, I want to say something about the way in which this sense of public interest is directly informed by an engagement with members of the wider Welsh public.

We sometimes make a rather grand-sounding claim to have created a new pluralism, in policy-making in Wales. The facts which lie behind that claim are certainly impressive, I think, in relation to the engagement between the Assembly Government and Welsh civic society. Research for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action both suggest that the voluntary sector in Wales feels itself to have a stronger sense of engagement with government than ever before. In the professions, too, the evidence is clear that devolution has created a new and closer engagement between policy-makers and front-line practitioners. When Jane Hutt published our ten year plan for the health service in Wales, she opened the door wide to those working in the service to help construct the detail of change. More than 500 names were put forward from all parts of Wales, and all aspects of the health service. Participation on this scale would have been quite inconceivable in the days before devolution – it is a major part of the devolution dividend which the Welsh Assembly Government is determined to deliver.

Where we have achieved less success so far may be in spreading the circle of participation and engagement to those groups which lie beyond those who have a pre-existing set of interests in the work of the Assembly. I hope to return to some ideas of how this might be addressed in the final, forward-looking section of this evening’s lecture.

The principle underpinning the whole of what I have just outlined is a simple one. It rests on the belief that government can and must be a catalyst for change and a force for good in our society. Although to a Welsh audience this might sound simple stuff, it is certainly an idea which would be contested elsewhere.

None of us with an interest in the welfare state will forget the description of the need for better provision for rough sleepers in the Strand by Sir George Young. Sir George was a very One Nation, moderate Conservative but the justification he gave for finding accommodation for the homeless in Central London was that it wasn’t very pleasant stepping over these people when you left the theatre with your wife and friends.

For others, it is less of a net and more of a trampoline, designed to propel those who need help back onto their own two feet as quickly as possible. A metaphorical variation of this position sees the purposes of social welfare services as a series of ladders, or escalators, designed to help those in need to rise above their circumstances and enter the circle of what J. K. Galbraith would call the contented.

The inclusiveness which we seek does not depend on drawing in a larger number of the able, enterprising and sainted who will go marching inside the stockade. Rather, it depends upon pushing back the boundaries of the stockade itself to the point where there is no stockade any more. That is how, in Wales we need to create not only a more inclusive, but a more equal society. Even the great Gareth Edwards, when he was asked why he didn’t carry on as a hurdler after winning the England Schools 200 metres championships, said he couldn’t graduate from leaping 2’6″ hurdles to the 3’6″ used in 110 metre adult hurdling, on the grounds that, ‘my legs are too short’. If you ask Gareth Edwards to leap Colin Jackson type hurdles, they won’t make it.

Looking ahead: the Assembly’s second term.

Turning now to my final theme in this evening’s lecture – that of looking ahead to a second Assembly term. There are some powerful calls being made for the next Assembly Government to include a Minister with specific responsibility for social justice. There is a case worth running for such an appointment and the idea deserves to be developed further. However, I should make it clear that my intention, ever since becoming First Minister, and looking ahead, is to lead a Government of social justice, in which everything we do makes a maximum contribution to that end. Indeed, one of the challenges which faces a Labour administration, if that is what there is to be, during a second Assembly term, is to secure an even more effective delivery of our cross-cutting themes of social inclusion, sustainable development and spreading prosperity. The small scale of the Assembly, and of Wales itself, is surely a major advantage to us in this regard. Wales is of a size where we are well placed to work together to make things work better. We know where the problems lie, and we know each other pretty well – both institutionally and – very often – individually. We should therefore be able to take advantage of small scale to make big decisions more easily.

Inside the Assembly we have done our best to maximise the advantages of being the relatively small government of a relatively small nation. Members of the Cabinet see each other almost every day. Our offices stand next door to one another. We are able to meet quickly when sudden needs arise. I sometimes like to think of Cabinet members as popping in and out of each others’ offices like neighbours from Pobl y Cwm or Coronation Street – although definitely not like Eastenders!

In the second part of the present Assembly term we have moved to strengthen this structural support still further through a small number of cabinet sub-committees. Looking ahead, it would be my intention, during the second term, to continue this focus upon working across portfolios for common purposes and extending it by focusing upon a small number of key policy objectives.

One has already been mentioned. Raising economic activity levels – as opposed to reducing unemployment – will need a leading contribution from an economic development perspective and a basic skills, education and training and health perspective, as we address the conditions which limit people’s capacity at different points in their lives. It will need, in addition, the engagement of the developmental contributions of community regeneration and cultural animateurs. The route back to economic participation maybe a long one for some and involvement in the Credit Union or a local performance group can provide, as we know, the first step to securing the confidence from which fuller participation will follow.

In Ireland at the commencement of the economic boom around 1990, and starting from a base of 16% plus unemployment, the initial phase of development was a basic skills agenda, breaking out of the cycle of unemployment by clearing out the local canal, low tech/no tech community enterprise programmes, which gave people pride in themselves, their communities and ability to out for work in the morning raised their self-esteem. The software engineering, the pharmaceutical and computer chip companies came later, when the foundation stones had been laid by FAS, the Irish ELWa.

Tonight, I would like to outline one further area in which it would be my intention to devote an enhanced level of energy in a second Assembly term. Nutrition and food issues engage us all and food questions stretch right across the Assembly. We are what we eat, and a new focus upon this area will provide series of important benefits right across our work.

In health, we have the dual difficulties of individuals who arrive in hospital suffering from malnutrition at a time when obesity is a public health challenge in the population at large. In schools, our fruit tuckshops and healthy school networks need to be extended through a new focus on the relationship between nutrition and learning. The whole school meals movement began in Wales, when the Fabian Society launched its pamphlet “And They Shall Have Flowers on the Table” in Cardiff at the turn of the last century. The title of that pamphlet made it clear that school dinners were to be a social and educational experience, as well as one which provided food for families where that was badly needed. Our new emphasis will share that social agenda. It will extend beyond health and education into the advantages of food cooperatives and local food markets. It will include the environmental benefits of reducing food miles. It will draw directly on the interests of economic development and rural affairs portfolios in the Assembly. In other words, it will maximise the cross-fertilisation which our system provides and apply them to an area where there is so much to be gained for so many individuals and communities in Wales.

An enhanced capacity to deliver on the food and nutrition agenda is an example of the way in which the devolution settlement in Wales can be developed, through imaginative use of our existing powers. The same applies to our imaginative proposal still being worked on jointly with the WLGA to offer free access to local authority swimming pools – it is a proposal which combats, poverty, obesity, anti-social behaviour, the Playstation culture and even our current struggle to play winning international sport!

With the establishment of the Richard Commission, it is inevitable that the next four years will include further consideration of these constitutional matters. My starting point is to be no more preoccupied with competing constitutional dogmas, and as concerned with the practical benefits which might emerge from the evolution of devolution in Wales as are the general public of Wales. Quite certainly, to people outside the narrow circles of political anorakism, it is those changes which help make things better which matter, not the rarefied air of constitutional nicety.

I spoke earlier of the success which I think the Assembly Government has achieved in reaching out to those who have an interest in policy-making in Wales. In our second term, I want to make sure that we go beyond this and connect just as directly with a wider spectrum of the Welsh public. One key to this, I think, is to find new ways in which they can be convinced that the Assembly considers the issues which matter to them. Inevitably, governments concentrate upon communicating our messages to the world outside, and I think we can claim some success in doing so in new and effective ways. Now we have to make sure we continue to listen as carefully to what people in Wales say to us. Given an opportunity, for example through the open mike sessions which are held at Regional Committees and in which the whole Cabinet participated earlier this year in Llandudno, people take part in large numbers. There are other practical ways – through broadband mechanisms, for example – in which this wider participation can be achieved and I intend that these should be actively pursued during any second term.

One of the matters on which people are always keen to let us know of their experience is that of delivery of public services. You know, of course, that when we talk about social welfare, the Assembly itself does not actually provide the services, which matter on the ground. For frontline provision of education, social work, housing and other services, local government remains an absolute key. Year in and year out, when other organisations and fashions have come and gone, local councils are still there, a permanent feature of the landscape, particularly in our most disadvantaged areas. Any government, which is serious about social policy services in Wales, has to work positively with local government as a fundamental partner in this endeavour.

Yet, here is a paradox. As vital as local government in Wales is, too often, the quality of service provided is not as good as we would wish it to be. I will not rehearse the difficulties so starkly set out in a series of joint reviews into social services departments in Wales, but the inescapable conclusion must be that not all is as well as it should be.

With our funding arrangements now properly in place, with our plans for renewing involvement of councillors, with new forms of council governance bedded in, I think the time has come, during a second term, to bring a new emphasis to bear on the delivery end of local authority work. It was Professor Howard Glenister of the London School of Economics, I think, who said that if social policy academics had spent more of their energy on finding better ways of getting peoples bins collected, the discipline might have made a greater contribution in improving peoples lives. Well, I think something of the same advice could profitably be directed towards politicians. Over recent months, I have asked the Assembly’s Strategic Policy Unit to report upon the range of levers which are available to us in ensuring that the money the Assembly provides, and the strategic direction and priorities we set out, are translated into practical action. That report deals with the whole range of organisations – Assembly Sponsored Bodies such as the WDA, the health Boards and Trusts, the voluntary sector, as well as local government – through which the strategic policies and funding streams provided by the Assembly Government are translated into activity on the ground. During a second term, relationships with service providers will need to be strengthened, in order that an improved set of outcomes can be secured.

I turn now to one final strand in this list of potential preoccupations for a second Assembly term. How are we to create the enhanced capacity for social policy-making which we need in a devolved Wales? A great deal has been achieved, I think, in turning the machine of the former Welsh Office from an engine of administration into one which analyses and develops policy choices. Looking ahead, however, I think we have to find ways of building on this still further. We need to invent a new form of public service in Wales, in which individuals are able to move far more easily than now between one form of organisation and another. Local government employees, Assembly civil servants, health service administrators, ASPB staff should all be able to map out career paths which move between these bodies, developing expertise and cross-fertilising from one place to another.

In front of this audience, I want particularly to stress the need for a new interchangeability between the Assembly and staff in higher education. When I visited Australia earlier in the autumn, the top educational civil servant in the state had been a professor of education and had entered the government service from being the Vice-Chancellor of the local university – and had moved into academic life from a career in public administration. Zig-zagging your way up the promotional ladder in civil service and academic terms seems entirely healthy to me and particularly suitable to post-devolution Wales. It is completely consistent with the principle of innovation rather than imitation. We need a Welsh public service, rather than a Welsh civil service.

I think this lecture is a particularly apposite place to make these points because, of course, the National Centre for Public Policy is not a stranger to such a way of doing things. Mike Sullivan, for example, played an important developmental role in developing the NHS Plan for Wales. The work of Peter Raynor in the field of criminal justice and Matthew Colton in child welfare are just two further examples from a long list in this institution alone. In citing such work, of course, I am drawing attention not simply to the advantages of a new flexibility in the way in which individuals can flow between academic and public careers, but also to the intellectual power which our higher education institutions are able to mobilise, and which I wish to see better harnessed to the benefit of the citizens of Wales.

There is a very particular contribution which Universities and their staff have to make in Wales, in helping to ensure that our policy map is informed by evidence and analysis. We need a strong research community in social policy, and the National Centre has already built up a healthy portfolio of commissions for the Assembly, for local authorities and the NHS. In a second term I want to build on this further, in Swansea and throughout Wales. As well as tapping into the accumulated knowledge and research capacity of academics in social policy and other disciplines, I want us actively to explore the ways in which you as individuals and as institutions can be part of the new, permeable public service we need to create in Wales.

Thank you all for listening.