Deadline date for completion of the farming “Working Smarter” recommendations is approaching

15 May 2015

Article by Anike Igunnu, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Image of cows on a farm

Working Smarter

In August 2011 the then Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes, Alun Davies, announced a review of the regulatory burdens placed on Welsh farmers and land managers. Gareth Williams was appointed by the Welsh Government to undertake an independent review. The terms of reference for the review were to:

  • deliver better regulation within an appropriate framework;
  • improve customer service for the farmers; and
  • increase the profitability of the sector from a business perspective.

The findings of the review, Working Smarter – A report of recommendations to the Welsh Government on better regulation in farming, were published in December 2011 and 74 recommendations were made to the Welsh Government. These recommendations were given timescales and fell into three categories of Quick wins (Q), Short term (S), or Medium term (M). The report indicated that by:

  • July 2012 the 20 quick wins must be in place, indicating a pace and willingness to progress.
  • July 2013 the 35 short term recommendations must be delivered, some of them key to the final stage.
  • July 2015 the remaining 19 medium term recommendations must be delivered in full.

The report highlights that anything less than the delivered outcomes should be regarded as a failure unless policies have determined that a changed result is desirable.

The Welsh Government responded in January 2012 (Written Statement – Welsh Government Response to ‘Working Smarter’ – a report of recommendations to the Welsh Government on better regulation in farming) and accepted all the recommendations. Following on from this, Gareth Williams was then invited to review the Welsh Government’s progress.

This report, Working Smarter – Growing Together the Welsh Farm Business, was published in March 2013 and colour coded the ‘completed’ recommendations in green, the ‘in progress’ recommendations in blue and the recommendations which had ‘no progress’ as of that date in red. He found that 29 recommendations out of the 74 recommendations were complete at that time, 39 recommendations were in progress and 6 recommendations were yet to commence.  In addition to this he made a further four recommendations.

The Welsh Government then issued a further update, The Welsh Government response to the working smarter update report – Growing together the Welsh farm business, in April 2013.

What has been completed to date?

Below are some examples of recommendations which were in the green, blue and red zones when the Welsh Government last reported on progress two years ago.

Green zone (completed)

  • Payment of public money to farmers must be on a contractual basis- deadline April 2012
  • Welsh Government to ensure adequate training of all local planning officers- deadline October 2012

Blue zone (in progress)

  • Welsh Government farming officials must have farming knowledge and understanding- deadline December 2013
  • New policy developments must incorporate a Communications Plan- deadline July 2013

Red zone (yet to commence)

  • Ensure improved understanding and communication of key performance indicators- July 2013
  • Establish specialist and co-located Appeals Team in Rural Payments Wales Division- deadline May 2015

There have been no further updates since April 2013 on the current status of the remaining 49 recommendations, with the deadline date of July 2015 for the Welsh Government to complete all 74 approaching.

*Image from Flickr by Chrissy Polcino. Licensed by Creative Commons.

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