Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
In November 2015, the Deputy Minister for Food and Farming announced an independent review of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC). HCC is the Welsh Government owned, but independently operated, agricultural levy body for the red meat sector in Wales. It promotes and markets Welsh red meat products both in the UK and overseas and works to develop improved standards in the agricultural red meat sector in Wales, through training, technology transfer and information provision to farmers and other industry bodies, as well as through research and development.
It is appropriate that Welsh Government’s arms-length bodies are reviewed periodically to ensure they are still necessary and if so, they continue to provide good value for money. HCC was created in 2003 and was reconstituted in 2007, when it became a company limited by guarantee, wholly owned by the Welsh Ministers.
The review was undertaken by Kevin Roberts, who is currently the independent Chair of the Strategic Framework Partnership Group. In order to evaluate the role of HCC, Kevin spoke to a wide range of industry organisations and individuals about HCC’s ability to undertake its functions and deliver value for money for the Welsh Government and for levy payers. The initial findings were announced in March 2016 and Kevin has now submitted his final report and recommendations to me.
Kevin concludes a red meat levy is still required in Wales and HCC remains best placed to collect and spend levy monies and undertake its other functions on behalf of levy payers and the Welsh Government. Kevin has identified a number of areas for improvement and his report makes 21 recommendations to the Welsh Government and HCC.
The main focus of the recommendations is on ensuring the right balance of spend at home and abroad in the promotion of Welsh red meat, improvement in collaboration between HCC, partner organisations and the Welsh Government, and further involvement of the HCC Board in setting organisational direction. Kevin has particularly highlighted measures to increase representation at Board level and strengthen engagement with the HCC executive to ensure robust scrutiny and challenge. The report also outlines a number of measures to improve the formal governance relationship between HCC and the Welsh Government. Importantly, Kevin has considered the implications of the EU referendum outcome in his final report to me. Trade arrangements post Brexit will be critically important and in the context of our agriculture industry, HCC will continue to play a vitally important role in helping to expand the export market for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.
I am pleased to accept those recommendations that fall to the Welsh Government to implement and good progress, particularly on those around the governance of HCC has already been made. My officials have drawn up a new framework which has been shared and discussed with HCC outlining the required governance arrangements moving forward.
I have written to the HCC Board to invite members to continue their important role for a further six month period ensuring continuity as the two organisations work together to implement Kevin’s recommendations. I shall launch a recruitment exercise this autumn to ensure that a new Board is in place by 1 April 2017.
I am keen to see a better gender balance on the HCC Board in future and in this respect would encourage more women to apply. And I wish to see people with successful track records particularly in the financial management and marketing fields stepping forward.
I have spoken to the Chair and the Chief Executive of HCC who have informed me that they and the HCC Board accept those recommendations which fall to HCC.
My full response to each of the recommendations has been published today on the Welsh Government website at:
I wish to put on record my sincere gratitude to Kevin Roberts for the considerable time and effort he has put into undertaking the review and for his insight and helpful recommendations. I would also like to thank all of the individuals who gave of their time, expertise and views to help inform Kevin's findings.
I look forward to receiving regular progress reports from my officials and from HCC as the work to implement Kevin's recommendations begins in earnest.