Improving engagement with the people of Wales is a big priority for us at the Assembly, and increasingly we have been doing this by involving people in discussions with Assembly committees on issues they are passionate about.
This plays an important role in helping Assembly committees scrutinise the Welsh Government, but recently we have been looking into what affect these participation projects have on those citizens involved.
The Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee’s inquiry into Business Rates saw small businesses from different parts of Wales take part in video interviews with outreach officers. Their contributions were shown to Assembly Members and helped inform the Committee’s scrutiny work.
Having taken part in the video interview, and having received updates from Assembly staff on the results of their contribution, participants were asked if they felt that they had the opportunity to express their views, and given the opportunity, would they take part in an activity like this again.
They were also asked to state how much they agreed or disagreed with the following statements before they took part, and how they felt about the same statements having taken part:
- People like me don’t have a say in the decisions the National Assembly for Wales makes;
- I have the confidence and information needed to get involved in politics;
- I know what role the National Assembly for Wales plays in making sure the Welsh Government is doing its job properly;
- I pay a lot of attention to Welsh politics;
- The National Assembly for Wales is essential to our democracy;
- I know what decisions get made in Wales by the National Assembly for Wales;
- I will vote in an upcoming National Assembly for Wales election.
This was the first time we have measured the effect of participation in one of our engagement initiatives from the participants’ perspective, the results of which showed us that all participants would take part again if given the opportunity, and that they felt that they had the opportunity to express their views. The most significant change in perception when comparing the responses before and after taking part were evident with the following statements:
- ‘People like me don’t have a say in the decisions the National Assembly for Wales’: none of the participants disagreed with this statement before taking part, compared to 67% who disagreed with the statement having taken part.
- ‘I have the confidence and information needed to get involved in politics’: half of the participants disagreed with this statement before taking part, where as 88% agreed with this statement after taking part.
Our intention is to seek to gather this type of information for the range of different engagement initiatives we deliver here, in order for us to understand their effectiveness and improve our offer in the future.
Read more: Public engagement at the National Assembly for Wales featured in a recent post on the Parliaments and Legislatures blog by Kevin Davies and Cristina Leston-Bandeira.
Kevin Davies is Senior Public Engagement Manager at the National Assembly for Wales.
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How easy is it to contribute to our work? What changes could we make to encourage more people to get more involved?
We are running a user needs survey until Friday 10 February 2017 and would love to hear your ideas.