Pressure mounts on UK Government to follow Welsh Government and back the Well-being of Future Generations Bill
- New research reveals more than two thirds of the UK public want the Government to do more to plan and prepare for long-term threats
- This figure increases to almost three quarters (73%) amongst swing constituencies - including the so-called red wall, which illustrates that putting long-termism into the heart of UK politics could benefit the Conservatives at the next ballot box
- Conservative MP Simon Fell and Big Issue Founder Lord John Bird, call for Government backing of their Bill, which tackles short-term thinking, and focuses on the UK’s wellbeing, at a time when it’s needed most
- The report ‘Facing Our Future’ will be launched as part of the cross-party Today For Tomorrow campaign, at a virtual parliamentary reception on Wednesday, June 30.
More than two thirds of the public want the Government to consider future generations in policy-making – according to new research – and the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales is backing a campaign for a UK-wide law that protects tomorrow from the actions of today.
Today (Tuesday, June 29) Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, and Simon Fell MP along with Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales have joined forces and urged the Government to back a UK Future Generations Bill.
The bill pushes for long-term policy making, as new research out today has revealed that more than two thirds of the public (69%) want the Government to do more to plan and prepare for long term threats.
The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill , if passed into law, would assist the UK Government in preventing problems, including the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics from happening, and not just deal in emergencies.
The report ‘Facing Our Future’, conducted by Portland Communications in July 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, also revealed the public want to see considerable reform to the political system to ensure that Covid is a ‘lesson to learn and adapt from’ and that we ‘work for a better future for our children and grandchildren’, with nearly two thirds (62%) calling for greater accountability of ministers.
In addition, 61% of those surveyed said that the expectation for planning and preparation ‘increases with the length of time a party is in power’ and presents ‘an opportunity to build a positive shared legacy that both Government and its people will be remembered for’.
The report comes as Lord Bird, with the backing of Simon Fell MP, calls on the Government to back their Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill. The Bill, which has the best chance of success this year, as it was drawn first out of the ballot box in the House of Lords, is gaining pace, having already passed its second reading in the Lords. The Bill will be co-sponsored by Fell and supported by MPs from at least eight different political parties in the House of Commons.
It seeks to embed long-termism, prevention, and the interests of future generations at the heart of UK policy-making and will require the Government to work to prevent problems from happening and give current and future generations a voice in decision-making and protect them from global threats.
Lastly, it will deliver a new, sustainable vision for the nation, as the UK seeks to recover from the Covid crisis, that prioritises our environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
The Bill is inspired by the Wellbeing for Future Generations Act (Wales) adopted by the Welsh Government, with cross party support in Wales in 2015.
The Act requires public bodies, including Welsh Government, to think more about the long-term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems like climate change and inequality and take a more joined-up approach.
Public bodies are required to work towards seven well-being goals for living within our environmental limits in the areas of health, prosperity, environmental resilience, communities, language and heritage, equality and Wales’ role in the world.
When it was passed into law, Nikhil Seth, then UN Assistant Secretary General, said: ‘What Wales is doing today, the world will do tomorrow.’
Lord Bird said: “We now have hard evidence that the public are crying out for there to be long-term thinking embedded in UK policy making.Our Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill will put an end to short-term policies, which only serve to bite us back later.
“The pandemic has shown us all that we need to plan ahead properly. Get in touch with your MP to invite them to our report launch, if you’re interested in creating a future worth fighting for.”
Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, said: ‘’Two-thirds of the UK public demand that the UK Government gets serious about long-term planning. The impact of COVID-19, combined with the climate crisis requires long term solutions. As UK MPs consider passing a UK Future Generations Bill – they should look no further than Wales to see what a difference a Wellbeing for Future Generations Act makes. On climate, transport, planning through to waste, Welsh ministers are required by law to make decisions on policies today that will benefit future generations, in 10 or 25 years’ time. As the UK’s first ever Future Generations Commissioner I would urge the UK parliament, Scottish parliament and Northern Irish Assembly to join Wales and make our governments fit for future generations.’’
There will be a UK parliamentary reception to launch the report at 2pm on 30th June. Visit https://todayfortomorrow.org.uk/ to ask your MP to attend.
For more information, please contact Ruth Law, Head of Comms, on 07976 680181 or Claire Rees at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
The report ‘Facing Our Future’ , based on research conducted by Portland Communications sought to identify how politically expedient passing a Bill like the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill would be to the current Conservative Government. Through 4 x 90-minute virtual focus groups and 15-minute online surveys completed by 1000 members of the public and 500 political proxies.
- The Wellbeing Future Generations Bill will require the UK Government to:
- Work to prevent problems, including the climate crisis, poverty & pandemics from happening, and not just deal in emergencies;
- Give current and future generations a voice in decision-making, and protect them from global threats;
- Deliver a new, sustainable vision for the nation, as we seek to recover from the covid crisis, that prioritises our environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
- The full bill can be read here.
- The draft legislation currently lays out plans for a public consultation to set national wellbeing goals – measures of how the country is faring in terms of environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.
- Public bodies, including Government departments, will then be held accountable on how they hit those goals. The bodies will be required to carry out impact assessments and account for preventative spending to stop future generations being affected by issues that could have been avoided.
- The Bill also aims to establish a Future Generations Commission to assess progress as well as extending the duty of the Office of Budget Responsibility to consider wellbeing and future generations in their work.
- A minister in each Government department’s portfolio will also be required to “promote the future” and a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Future Generations must also be set up, if the Bill makes it into force unamended.
- The co-sponsors of the Wellbeing Future Generations Bill are Crossbencher Lord John Bird and Conservative MP Simon Fell. Lord John Bird is an independent ‘People’s Peer’, appointed in 2015.
- The Bill is inspired by the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, which has at its heart a duty on all public bodies, including Welsh ministers, to act in accordance with a sustainable development principle, which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Some of the key achievements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act:
- Changing perceptions around health to include ‘green’ policies and actions including park runs on prescription and wildflower meadows at hospitals.
- A Beyond Recycling strategy, with plans for Wales to be zero waste by 2050.
- Ensuring that the new future-focused Curriculum for Wales 2022 is designed with well-being at its core.
- A focus on preventing and addressing adversity that children face in Wales.
- Securing the creation of the Welsh Government Freelancers Pledge – a £7 million fund to support freelancers working in the cultural and creative sectors in Wales hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Welsh Government changing its approach to transport planning policy – resulting in a new transport strategy.
- Influencing Welsh Government’s proposed recovery plan from the pandemic, with a greater focus on a green, just and equal recovery.