WQ93022 (e) Tabled on 24/05/2024

How effectively are provisions of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act influencing Welsh law?

Answered by Counsel General | Answered on 05/06/2024

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (the Act) provides for a legally-binding common purpose – the seven well-being goals – for national government, local government, local health boards and other specified public bodies. It details the ways in which specified public bodies must work and work together to improve the well-being of Wales and carry out sustainable development.

The Act was specifically designed to strengthen existing governance systems for improving the well-being of Wales. It does this by requiring public bodies to do things in pursuit of the economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being of Wales by acting in accordance with the sustainable development principle.

The Act brings public bodies together at the local level through Public Services Boards to assess and plan for the well-being of their area. Through the Act we have in place 50 national well-being indicators and 17 national milestones and an annual Well-being of Wales report assessing progress towards the well-being goals. The independent Future Generations Commissioner, established by the Act, has a general duty is to promote the sustainable development principle, to act as a guardian of the ability of future generations to meet their needs and encourage public bodies to take greater account of the long-term impacts of the things they do.

Welsh Ministers are subject to the requirements of the Act and it therefore affects how Welsh Government develops policy and legislation. Our guidance on policy and legislation development (including the Legislation Handbook on Bills and Subordinate Legislation) was updated following the Act to ensure that policy officials consider the requirements of the Act, including how policies can advance the achievement of the well-being goals.

Since the Act was passed in 2015, Welsh law has used the Act in several ways, both drawing on the purpose of the Act and by supplementing it, by adding new specified public bodies or tapping into its operational and reporting mechanisms.

To give an example, the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act 2023 (SPPP Act) provides for a framework to enhance the well-being of the people of Wales by improving public services through social partnership working, promoting fair work, and socially responsible public procurement. The social partnership duties within the SPPP Act apply when a public body is carrying out sustainable development in accordance with the Act.

Most recently, on 21 May the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Social Justice laid the Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (Public Bodies) (Amendment) Regulations 2024 which will, if made, require that eight further public bodies will be subject to the well-being duty (under Part 2 of the Act).