Public bodies in Wales must become more ambitious and adventurous and provide better clarity on how they are meeting their obligations under the Well-being of Future Generations Act, says Sophie Howe in a new report published today.

In advance of public bodies publishing their first annual reports over the next year on their progress under the Act, Well-being in Wales – the journey so far provides a snapshot of how public bodies are responding to new duties under the Act and what they need to do going forward.  

In parallel, the Auditor General for Wales has produced a complementary report Reflecting on Year One: How Have Public Bodies Responded to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act  2015?’  providing an overview of how the 44 public bodies in Wales are implementing this new piece of legislation.  

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales says: 

“The Well-being of Future Generations Act is about us thinking and working differently. The two reports reflect the purpose, progress and pace of change.” 

“Last April, local and national public bodies across Wales were required to publish their well-being objectives and steps they would take to meet them.  

“It is encouraging to see good practice already taking place with public bodies working across partnerships, sharing resources, expertise and learning.  

“However, when they publish their annual reports on progress in the next 12 months, I want to see all public bodies demonstrating how they are moving beyond traditional ways of working and finding ways to deliver policy and services which improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales now and for future generations.” 

Sophie Howe continues: 

“The analysis I have undertaken alongside the Wales Audit Office reveals that public bodies have looked to set objectives which address some of the biggest challenges facing future generations, but now they need to be more ambitious in what they set out to do and provide clarity in the steps they will take to get there.   

“For example, there are 97 objectives relating to skills, but these generally have a narrow focus on economic benefits rather than demonstrating more broadly how development of skills can meet current and future challenges.  

“A more holistic approach could include: supporting economic growth in green industries such as renewable energy, how volunteering could improve the skills of local workforces as well as providing benefits to the community and how communities can prepare for the changing nature of future work; recognising the importance of softer skills alongside digital competency. 

“There are some public bodies recognising these challenges and seeking to broaden the potential around skills for the future, for example through focusing on environmental literacy. 

 “Elsewhere, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board have worked with the ‘Engage to Change’ supporting young people with learning disabilities into employment, thereby improving skills and addressing lack of opportunities for disabled people.”    

Sophie Howe adds: 

“Twenty-one different organisations have set objectives on housing but almost all relate to improving stock to meet demand and fail to recognise the opportunities for developing more environmentally sustainable houses, planning for an aging population and promoting connected communities.   

“There are, however, some notable examples of local authorities who are focusing on low-carbon affordable housing and all public bodies must broaden their thinking on how housing can contribute to the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of their local area.” 

The Commissioner concludes: 

“The Act provides the opportunity and permission to challenge and change the way things have been done, to improve people’s lives in five, ten, twenty-five years and generations beyond.” 

“Whilst we recognise the hard work public bodies have done to get this point, I am now calling on them to demonstrate how they are turning their words into action and start delivering real changes.” 

“I am also working closely with the Welsh Government to support public bodies with the level of system change both in national policy, performance measures and allocation of resources and to ensure they have the right conditions to make the necessary changes”  

Notes to editors:  

Well-being in Wales – the journey so far 

What well-being objectives are telling us:  

  • 99 objectives, set by 38 public bodies relate to health, social care, social prescribing, safeguarding and ageing well 
  • 74 objectives, set by 38 public bodies relate to communities, cohesion, safety, facilities and access to services 
  • 40 objectives, set by 24 public bodies relate to transport, connectivity, digitalisation and digital connectivity 
  • 29 objectives, set by 21 public bodies relate to poverty, equality, fairness, (lack of) housing and homelessness