Commissioner responds to Welsh Government well-being objectives
The Welsh Government has announced its objectives which it says will drive forward delivery of the well-being goals for Wales, as required by the Well-being of Future Generations Act.
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe says the announcement is crucial in setting the example for the 43 other public bodies in Wales who will set their own objectives early next year. She said:
“This is a significant step in the implementation of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and the Welsh Government has rightly set itself the challenge of being the first public body to produce the well-being objectives required as part of this.
“The Welsh Government also has the additional challenges of being one of the largest public bodies in Wales and of working to provide support and guidance to all our public bodies as we go on this journey together.
“I welcome the openness in saying that they are on a journey in terms of getting their approach to the Act right. Publishing high level objectives is just one part of this, the more important part is how they live the Act, demonstrating how the Act is a framework for budget setting including a shift to preventative spending, how they integrate better across ministerial portfolios and departments and how they will develop policy and programmes in way that involves the people who are affected.”
The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires a fundamental change in the way our public bodies work. All those championing the Act, including the Assembly, will be scrutinising how Welsh Government demonstrates its intent to achieve this change. In doing this the Government will need to clearly outline over the coming months how the four strategies set out under the Programme for Government will deliver against the well-being objectives they have set.
Ms Howe continued:
“We are still in the early stages of implementing the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and, as Commissioner, I am keen to encourage an open and inclusive environment for shared learning for all our public services. The Welsh Government has an important role in setting the tone for this by sharing its approach to setting these objectives.
“I have offered my support as they seek to further develop the objectives. In particular I will be looking for them to outline the steps they intend to take to meet their objectives, the timescales for doing so and how they will align resources to this.”
Within this context, the Commissioner has highlighted several key areas where the Government can demonstrate its commitment to living the act. For example, today’s objectives include commitments to creating the conditions to give every child the right start in life and to helping people to live healthy, independent lives.
“What we will be looking for, is a joined up approach across all departments. For example, the childcare pledge offers an opportunity to deliver on economic objectives but also to promote healthy lifestyles for children and align programmes which focus on the importance of early years, identifying and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (i.e. identifying those children who are living in households where there is domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health issues and parental separation or incarceration).
“This is just one example of how a range of programmes can come together to provide a seamless service round children, making a real impact on life outcomes and future generations.
“Wales also needs a shift to preventative health care through innovative models, such as social prescribing where we draw on our natural resources in Wales and our third sector to support people to be healthy and stay well, avoiding the need for expensive medical interventions. We have an opportunity deliver fundamental changes, creating an NHS that can cope with the challenges of the future.
“Our infrastructure must also be fit-for-purpose for future climatic changes, including heat and severe weather events. In Wales more than 222,000 homes are at risk of flooding and that figure is likely to increase together with the £200 million estimated cost of putting it right. Flooding and coastal change must be seen as a priority with agencies working together to protect communities.
“Taking this approach is essential, not just because of the pressures we are under, but because it makes good sense. I am committed to continuing to work with Welsh Government to advise, challenge and equip them and all our public bodies as we work together to deliver the Wales We Want.”