Category: Digital Assembly

#AskLlywydd – The Presiding Officer, Elin Jones AM, answers your questions

The Presiding Officer, Elin Jones AM, will be at the National Eisteddfod on 2 August in conversation with ITV Wales journalist Catrin Hâf Jones, talking about the unique challenges and opportunities she faces in the Fifth Assembly. The Presiding Officer will also answer questions from the audience and submitted through social media.

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Questions can be sent in advance or on the day, either by using #AskLlywydd  / #HoliLlywydd on Twitter, or by posting on the Assembly’s Facebook pages, where the session will be streamed live from 11:00am.

How do I watch?

If you are at the Eisteddfod you will be able to watch the interview live from 11:00am in the Societies 1 pavilion. If you are not able to attend we will be streaming the interview live in both English and Welsh to our Facebook accounts:

Assembly Wales Facebook

Cynylliad Cymru Facebook

You will also be able to watch the full interview on Senedd.tv after the event, along with transcripts.

How do I submit a question?

You can submit your questions for the Presiding Officer in a number of ways:

  • On Twitter – Follow @AssemblyWales on Twitter and reply to any tweets relating to this topic, or use the hashtag #AskLlywydd. Also feel free to Direct Message us if you’d like it to be confidential.
  • On Facebook – Like the Assembly’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on a relevant status. If you can’t see a relevant status then leave a comment on the page with the hashtag #AskLlywydd.
  • E-Mail – You can send your questions by e-mail to: communications@assembly.wales 
  • On Instagram – If you can express your views in a creative visual way we’d love to see it. Tag our Senedd Instagram account within your picture or just use the hashtag #AskLlywydd. Alternatively you can leave a comment on any one of our Instagram posts again with the hashtag #AskLlywydd
  • On YouTube – Why not film yourself asking your question and then send us the link through any of the channels above?
  • Comments – Leave a comment on this blog post right now!

Need some ideas?

The Assembly for Wales can make laws in 21 devolved areas:

  • Agriculture, Forestry, Animals, Plants and Rural Development
  • Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings
  • Culture
  • Economic Development
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Fire and Rescue Services and Fire Safety
  • Food
  • Health
  • Highways and Transport
  • Housing
  • Local government
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Public Administration
  • Social Welfare
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Taxation
  • Tourism
  • Town and Country Planning
  • Water and Flood Defence
  • Welsh Language

Here are some further links that you may also find helpful:

Key Issues for the Fifth Assembly – This publication sets out a selection of issues likely to matter in the Fifth Assembly, from the steel industry to the future of Welsh law-making.

Wales and the EU: What does the vote to leave the EU mean for Wales? – Our Research Service explains what could happen after the Leave vote in Wales.

New Assembly Commission launches strategy for Fifth Assembly – News article about the new strategy for the fifth Assembly.

The Role of the Presiding Officer – Information about the role of the Presiding officer.

 More about Elin Jones AM, Presiding Officer

Elin Jones AM is the current Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales.

The Presiding Officer is the highest authority in the Assembly and chairs the meeting of all 60 Assembly Members in Plenary, remaining politically impartial at all times.

The Presiding Officer also plays an active role in representing the Assembly and Wales’s interests on a national, UK and international stage. They chair the Assembly Commission, which makes sure that Assembly Members have the staff and resources they need to carry out their roles effectively for the people of Wales.

The key functions of the Presiding Officer are:

  • to chair Plenary meetings;
  • to determine questions as to the interpretation or application of Standing Orders;
  • to represent the Assembly in exchanges with any other bodies, whether within or outside the United Kingdom, in relation to matters affecting the Assembly.

See also:

Llywydd gives evidence to Assembly Committee – Changes the Presiding Officer would like to make to the Wales Bill.

Elin Jones lays out what she wants to achieve as Presiding Officer of the National Assembly – An interview with WalesOnline on what the Presiding Officer wants to achieve in her role over the next five years.

What happens next?

Once all your questions have been collected, a few will be selected and answered on the day by the Presiding Officer.

We will collate your questions and pass them to Catrin Hâf Jones before the interview. She will then incorporate them into her conversation with Elin Jones AM, Presiding Officer. If you’re at the Eisteddfod you can come and watch the interview in person, or watch live via our Facebook pages. Afterwards, the conversation will be available online on Senedd.TV. We’ll let you know if your question was answered.

The Presiding Officer in conversation with Catrin Hâf Jones will take place on 2 August at 11:00am at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny.

We look forward to hearing your views!

If you are at the Eisteddfod you will be able to watch the interview live from 11:00am in the Societies 1 pavilion. If you are not able to attend we will be streaming the interview live in both English and Welsh to our Facebook accounts:

Assembly Wales Facebook

Cynylliad Cymru Facebook

You will also be able to watch the full interview on Senedd.tv after the event, along with transcripts.

View this post in Welsh

The National Assembly for Wales becomes a Slate Ambassador

Here at the National Assembly for Wales, we are always looking at new ways of sharing information in exciting and innovative ways. This year, we started using a product called Slate (made by Adobe) to give summary versions of reports produced by our committees.

Our Slates have been extremely successful – so much so that Adobe have made us a Slate Ambassador!

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What is Slate?

Slate is a platform that allows organisations to create and share interactive reports, information and presentations. It has accessible user interfaces and cross platform compatibility, the Assembly has used Slate to share the extensive and complex work of Assembly committees in an informative and easily navigated format.

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Slate success

Following the recent inquiry into Alcohol and Substance Misuse in Wales, the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee wanted to share their findings. The Assembly used Slate to create a summary of the committee’s work. Using eye catching imagery and informative content, a cross platform report with a friendly user interface was created.

“We have been blown away by the amazing things people like (The National Assembly for Wales) are doing with the tool”   – The Slate Web Team

Slate has now been used to present the findings of a number of Assembly committees including the Finance Committee enquiry into whether the Ombudsman should have more powers and the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee enquiry into how poverty can be reduced in Wales.

Find out more about the work of Committees at the National Assembly for Wales

GovCampCymru 2015 #gccy15 at the Pierhead

This year, GovCampCymru held its second event in the Pierhead, which forms part of the National Assembly for Wales’ estate in Cardiff Bay.

It was a glorious day – but the building took centre stage for most of it:

GovCamp is an event where people come together to discuss, create and innovate, looking specifically at how technology, new thinking and public services can improve society.

It runs on an ‘unconference’ basis, where the agenda for the day is decided by people proposing workshop or discussion topics on the day.

The event in Wales is co-ordinated by the Sartori Lab, along with the help of scores of volunteers and sponsors. An overview of the day is available on the Good Practice Wales Pinterest board.

If you are interested in an overview of what was discussed on the day, you can view the Google Doc session notes.

If you work in the public sector and are interested in keeping the flame of innovation and discussion going between annual events, Sartori Lab have arranged a Bara Brith Camp (which was an outcome of one of the sessions).

This time, a number of Assembly staff went along, each interested in a different aspect of public service. Here are their comments about the day.

 

Dean George, Digital Media Manager @deanogeorge
(centre, pictured with @dailingual to the left and Dyfrig from @GoodPracticeWAO to the right)

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This was my first unconference experience and I really enjoyed the freedom of discussion it afforded everyone there. It ensures that only engaged people remain in dialogue with you and you get some amazing ideas as a result. The great thing about an unconference is that the best conversations can happen in between sessions, perhaps talking over a coffee. These aren’t forced ‘networking breaks’ but fluid and stimulating debates you have to be pulled away from at times. It also helps that people who gave up their Saturday are bound to have passion for this field.

I spent the morning session talking about Welsh language speech to text technology, get in touch with Gareth Morlais (@melynmelyn) if you have ideas on this. I also listened to a session led by the Assembly on how we could make outputs of Assembly Committees more engaging to a wider audience. It seems that having separate Twitter accounts for Committees with different remits is well received but we need to do more to make the reporting side even more engaging. Our Slate reports might be a step in the right direction. This is definitely the format for getting the most out of your time away from the desk, I’d like to see it widely adopted across the public sector. Try using it for your next staff away day!

Helia Phoenix, Senior Digital Media Manager @phoenixlily

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This was my third GovCamp. I’ve been to one in London and two in Wales, and have since spent a lot of time pestering others to join in!

I may be biased, but I’ve vastly preferred the Welsh ones. The content was varied enough for both to encourage people to attend sessions on things they might not know about, plus it deals with the Welsh context, which is different from English / UK national issues.

Talking about how to improve things, with people from Wales and outside it, is a great way to spend a day!

Although I attended interesting sessions throughout the day, by far my favourite part of GCCY was the time spent in the pub afterwards having the blockchain explained to me by @SymRoe of Democracy Club and James Cattell @jacattell from the Cabinet Office, using various metaphors involving buying rounds of drinks, free shots (big thanks to those two for preserving with me!). Two hours later, I think I got it …

 

Kevin Davies, Public Engagement Manager @kevo_davies

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Helia and I went to GovCampCymru last year, and liked it enough that not only did we want to go again, but we also felt that it would be a really good fit to hold GovCamp at the National Assembly, and have more people from the Assembly be a part of the day. This time around we were joined by a couple of people from our online and social media team, and representatives from our translation and legislation teams. It was great to be a part of the event again.

The thing that struck me last year was how great it was to have so many positive and knowledgeable people in the same room at the same time, people who are passionate enough to give up their time on a Saturday. It’s a great was to share practical ideas – as well as getting into massive ideological debates! This year was no exception, and as was the case last year, there was a real good mix of issues discussed including the accessibility of committee reporting outputs, how to progress the digital agenda in Wales, promoting elections, and the future of democracy…a lot of stuff to try and fix in four hour long workshops!

Tom Jackson, Scrutiny Support Team Clerk

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I pitched a workshop on ‘Better reporting? Improving the accessibility of Committee Outputs.’ The original aim of this session was to get a range of ideas about how we could make the outputs of committee scrutiny more accessible/attractive/digestible, with a particular focus on more innovative ways of publishing information and how they’ve evaluated the success of those methods. However, in keeping with the nature of GovCamp, the discussion didn’t explicitly follow this direction. Instead, one of the themes of the session was that a bigger issue for the Assembly was how we select content for particular audiences, rather than how we present it.

Attendees suggested that there are three different audiences for Committee outputs:

  1. Government Ministers/Civil Servants, who need to be convinced of the validity of recommendations (with evidence for/against them);
  2. People who were involved in an inquiry, who want to know what difference their evidence/input had on the Committee’s conclusions. It may be worthwhile asking such people how they want this information to be presented. Some people may want information to be presented in an Easy Read format;
  3. The wider public- who may be more interested in ‘what happens next,’ than what the Committee recommended/reported. Such people will find jargon very difficult to understand. They will primarily be interested in how Government responses to Committee scrutiny may affect their lives. Answering this may require more of a network/link between “the people writing reports” and “the people delivering the recommendations.”

 

Gruffydd Jones, Translation Deputy Business Enhancement and Change Manager

In terms of language technology, there was an interesting session pitched by Gareth Morlais from the Welsh Government on the possibility of crowdsourcing speech-to-text technology.

Given our work on language technology and continued interest in the field, we are well placed at the Assembly to participate in any developments on speech-to-text in the future and we’d be keen to explore how we could participate in any crowdsourcing projects.

 

Alison Flye, Digital Information Assistant @teaflye

(Alison is second left)

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This was my first experience of an “unconference” and I think the format worked well. At the sessions I attended everyone was fully engaged and the atmosphere of enthusiasm was infectious – there was a great buzz in the building. GovCampers took over the iconic Pierhead for the day, which meant there was was plenty of space for 100 attendees and 20 workshops.

My first session was about citizen campaigns using digital. People know how to complain about problems with their rubbish or a park, but not about digital issues. How can we change this? (Part of the problem is that actually, many people still don’t know to approach their councils and councillors, even about parks, but that’s something for another workshop.) After that I attended Dave McKenna’s (@localopolis) session on Making Democracy More Like Rock n’ Roll. A worthy ideal if ever there was one, and a great session with some useful ideas to take away. Dave has gathered everyone’s input together and blogged about it already.

 

The following images were all taken by WNBishop on Flickr.

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#AskFirstMin – The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister wants to hear from you

#AskFirstMin – Have your question answered by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones

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The Committee wants to hear from organisations, businesses and from you – more details on how to take part online below.

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister is meeting in Swansea on October 16 at 10.30 at the National Waterfront Museum. The main topic will be ‘Wales in the Wider World’. Here’s a flavour of the main drivers for discussion:

What is the Welsh Government’s overall strategy for marketing and promoting Wales to the world? What is the Welsh brand? How well are Welsh attractions promoted to tourists? Does the Welsh Government do enough to draw in investors?
Does the Welsh Government do a good job of making Wales seem appealing to tourists from the UK and abroad?  Is Welsh culture visible enough outside of Wales? What markets or products should be prioritised?

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A full agenda will be posted on the Committee’s web page when confirmed. 

The majority of Committees meet weekly to scrutinise the Welsh Government in detail but The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister focuses on broad topics relating to any central strategic vision of the Welsh Government’s programme.

How do I take part online?

You can submit your question, observation or comment to the Committee on the topic of ‘Wales in the Wider World’ any way you like:

Twitter On Twitter – Follow @AssemblyWales on Twitter and reply to any tweets relating to this topic or use the hashtag #AskFirstMin. Also feel free to Direct Message us if you’d like it to be confidential.
 Facebook On Facebook – Like the Assembly’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on a relevant status. If you can’t see a relevant status then leave a comment on the page with the hashtag #AskFirstMin.
 Email E-Mail – You can send your views by e-mail to: FM.Scrutiny@Assembly.Wales
 Youtube On YouTube – Why not film yourself asking your question and then send us the link through any of the channels above?
 Instagram On Instagram – If you can express your views in a creative visual way we’d love to see it. Tag our Senedd Instagram account within your picture or just use the hashtag #AskFirstMin. Alternatively you can leave a comment on any one of our Instagram posts again with the hashtag #AskFirstMin.
 Wordpress Comments – Leave a comment on this blog post right now!

What happens next?

We will collate the responses and hand them over to the Committee’s Chair – David Melding AM. The Chair will then incorporate them into the line of questioning for the First Minister, Carwyn Jones. You can come and watch the meeting in person, online on Senedd.TV or read the transcript. We’ll let you know if your question was answered. The meeting will take place on 16 October, 10.30 in Swansea at the National Waterfront Museum.

We look forward to hearing your views!

 “You can see the extraordinary beauty, the wonderful people and great hospitality, so I’d encourage everybody in the States to come and visit Wales.”
– President Barack Obama

Explore the topic – ‘Wales in the Wider World’

This may seem like a complex topic but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the big picture. We want to hear out of the box ideas, comments from different perspectives and from different walks of life. Continue reading “#AskFirstMin – The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister wants to hear from you”

Trying a new report format: the Finance Committee’s Consideration of Powers: Public Services Ombudsman for Wales report

This year, the Assembly’s Finance Committee looked into the powers of the Public Services Ombudsman in Wales. The Committee published a full-length report with its findings in May 2015.

Official committee reports tend to be quite long and include a large amount of evidence received from stakeholders and the Welsh Government. These reports are published on the relevant Assembly committee’s webpage.

The official version of any report is important as it contains all the evidence and recommendations/findings of the committee and it provides transparency.  

In an attempt to make the findings of reports more accessible to people who might be interested in the Finance Committee’s work, an at-a-glance report on the inquiry into the Ombudsman’s powers was released alongside the official report. This was designed to be read by flicking through it on a tablet or a phone, or scrolling on a desktop computer.

To make the report more accessible the word count was reduced, the language was simplified, images added, and quotes inserted from Committee meetings to provide the reader with an overview of the Committee’s report.

Here are the final versions:

Should the Ombudsman have more powers? Summary report

 

This is the full version of the report: Finance Committee’s Report on Consideration of Powers: Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PDF, 605KB)

If you have time to read both and compare them, we would welcome any feedback: please send to communications@assembly.wales

 

How well is the Welsh Government doing its job?

This is a question Assembly Members at the National Assembly ask every day, in committee meetings, or in Plenary meetings, in the main debating chamber of the Senedd, in Cardiff Bay.

If the Welsh Government’s job is to “help improve the lives of people in Wales and make our nation a better place in which to live and work”, then it’s important that the Assembly hears from the wide range of people affected by the decisions that the Welsh Government makes. The National Assembly for Wales is the body tasked with analysing how well the Welsh Government is doing so, after all.

How the Assembly does this has changed significantly over the last few years, particularly when it comes to the work of Assembly committees. People still reply to invitations to write to the Assembly to give evidence. Individuals, organisations and charities still visit the Senedd to be quizzed by AMs in formal meetings, though different approaches are needed to hear from different audiences.

These are pictures of Julie Morgan AM and Jocelyn Davies AM taking part in a web-chat with students on Google Hangouts for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding: 

Julie Morgan AM and Jocelyn Davies AM taking part in a web-chat with students on Google Hangout for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding Julie Morgan AM and Jocelyn Davies AM taking part in a web-chat with students on Google Hangout for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding Screen shot of a web-chat with students on Google Hangout for the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Higher Education Funding

People everywhere lead increasingly busy lives, so making participation in the Assembly’s work as easy and accessible as possible is vital for engaging with the wide variety of people that make up the population of Wales. Increasingly at the Assembly, committees have been using digital channels to encourage people to share their views with us.

We’ve used Google Hangouts to speak with students about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Skills and Higher Education Funding, filmed members of the public on an iPad and shown it as evidence at formal committee meetings, and used Twitter to source questions to ask the leader of the Welsh Government, First Minister Carwyn Jones AM.

The following video is a video of Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and Julie James AM being interviewed after taking part in their first web-chat on Google Hangout for the STEM Skills inquiry:

In the last few months we used Loomio for the first time, as part of the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry looking into alcohol and substance misuse in Wales. Loomio is a web-application to assist groups with collaborative decision-making processes.

A key part of the inquiry was talking directly with the people affected by these issues, but some people find attending official committee meetings intimidating. Also not all those affected have the capacity to put their thoughts and feelings to the Committee in writing. Loomio allowed the Committee to talk to people, without everyone needing to be in the same room.

Service providers and clients used the online forum to tell us what issues they had experienced, and what they wanted the Welsh Government to should do about it. This is a screenshot showing some of the contributions we had to the discussion:

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Loomio discussion screen shot

At the end of the evidence-gathering process, once a Committee has considered everything that people have told them, they will usually write to the Welsh Government. This is to explain what steps the Committee would like to see the Welsh Government take to improve people’s lives in Wales, based on the evidence the Committee have heard.

This tends to be in official reports, which can be quite lengthy, but we are looking at different ways of presenting committee reports to make them shorter and easier to understand, at-a-glance.

One of the summary versions is this video, made for people who were filmed for an inquiry looking at youth entrepreneurship:

More recently we have used Adobe Slate to summarise a report on Poverty in Wales: https://slate.adobe.com/a/EN6np

Using digital channels and platforms has allowed us to engage with people more effectively and easily than before.

It’s also meant that more people can help the Assembly scrutinise the Welsh Government’s performance, so the Assembly’s recommendations to the Welsh Government are based on the issues people experience in their everyday lives.

Sharing good practice in scrutiny (3)

Outreach Manager Kevin Davies explains…

Welcome to the third and final blog entry in this series. In my previous blogs I spoke about the challenges of getting a diverse range of people to contribute to committee scrutiny, and then spoke about the different types of things we do at the National Assembly. 

In this entry I’m going to talk about the planning process, which might not be as interesting as the previous blogs, but may be the most important piece in the puzzle. Without proper planning and discussion at an early enough stage, none of what I talked about in the first two blogs would be possible.

Planning and involving the right people at the right time is really important from the get go. A lot of preparation work can be done in advance to give staff internally time to plan, come up with ideas, speak with external experts and contact Assembly Members/Councillors to make sure they are getting the opportunity to shape the type of engagement activity, and in particular which audiences, they want to hear from. At the Assembly we have something called integrated teams (usually made up of a researcher, a committee clerk, legal advisor and communications staff), which basically means that the officials supporting each committee meet every week to discuss current inquiries and work, alongside what’s coming up in the coming weeks and months. It’s not unusual for these integrated teams  to discuss what is on the horizon in the next five to six months. Proper planning means   more flexibility and options at your disposal when it comes to engaging with different groups, organisations and individuals. It’s important that your Communications people are involved at the earliest stage possible to advise and help shape the work, rather that it being an afterthought, or asking them at the end of the process for support on publicising something they haven’t been able to help shape.

Advanced planning will also mean that those groups and organisations you want to help promote the  activity you are planning (be it  an event, survey, the opportunity to be interviewed etc) will have adequate time to do so. It’s important to use the expertise of external groups and organisations when trying to select the appropriate type of engagement method, based on your target audience.

Councils are in a unique position  as they deliver a wide variety of services to different groups of people, covering health, education, transport and the environment to name a few. The people delivering these services are a valuable source of information, and can help you consider  issues and sensitivities relevant to specific groups of people, based on their age, gender, levels of literacy, ethnic backgrounds and so on.

Case Study: Scrutiny of the Cancer Delivery Plan

The National Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee recently looked at how well the Welsh Government was implementing its Cancer Delivery Plan. The Committee wanted to hear directly from patients, so focus groups were arranged across Wales with patient groups, who were then invited to an event in Cardiff to discuss their experiences with Assembly Members. Key to this were the early meetings that the integrated team had do discuss ideas, seeking advice from MacMillan who helped us arrange the patient sessions at an early  stage. Without appropriate planning and those early discussions this  not have been possible, and the Committee would not have heard directly from patients throughout the process.

This is a video was shot after an event held as part of the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into the implementation of the Welsh Government’s Cancer Delivery Plan:

At the Assembly we have something called integrated teams (usually made up of a researcher, a committee clerk, legal advisor and communications staff), which means that the officials supporting each committee meet every week to discuss current inquiries and work, alongside what’s coming up in the coming weeks and months.

We usually discuss the following questions:

  • Who do you expect to tell you want they think in writing? (written evidence);
  • Who do you think you will be inviting into speak to the committee in official meetings? (oral evidence);
  • Who do you want to hear from that you don’t think will get in touch, and how can we get to them?

The answer to the third question tends to be the groups we target engagement activity towards. This work should not happen independently of Assembly Members/Councillors, they have to be involved in shaping the work you are undertaking. We have found it useful to have some ideas ready to discuss with them after meeting as an integrated team, and having spoken with people in the sector you would like to hear from. The engagement activity needs to resonate with committee members for it to influence the scrutiny process to its fullest effect.

When trying to find the answer to that third point, we aim to give service users the best opportunity possible to take part. In some cases, such as  the inquiry into the  Cancer Delivery Plan  mentioned above, we wanted to hear from service users – the patients – directly.. The term “service user” will differ depending on the issue you are scrutinising. Another one of the National Assembly’s committees, the Finance Committee, looked at the performance of Finance Wales, and wanted to hear directly from businesses who had worked with them, including  those who had had their applications for investment turned down. These are two very different ”service users” and shows how greatly the answer to the third question can change depending on the issue you are looking into.

Here are some pictures and videos form the event held as part of the Finance Committee’s inquiry into Finance Wales:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalassemblyforwales/sets/72157640037729084/

I hope you’ve found this blog series useful, and please get in touch if you want to talk about any of the things in this series in greater detail.