The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill: one step closer to the Wales we want?

8 July 2014

Article by Karen Whitfield, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill and Explanatory Memorandum were laid on Monday 7th and will be introduced in Plenary today by the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty and Member in charge of the Bill, Jeff Cuthbert AM. If passed by the Assembly, the Bill will be the first piece of legislation passed in the UK aimed at addressing economic, social and environmental sustainability in a holistic way.

The Bill aims to ‘improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of Wales, in accordance with the ‘sustainable development principle’ which seeks to ‘…ensure the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’

The Bill sets a suite of six national well-being goals:
• A prosperous Wales;
• A resilient Wales;
• A healthier Wales;
• A more equal Wales;
• A Wales of cohesive communities; and
• A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.

The Bill imposes a duty on certain Welsh public bodies to set their own well-being objectives, which are designed to maximise their own contribution to the national well-being goals in accordance with the ‘sustainable development principle.’

The Bill also creates the statutory role of Future Generations Commissioner to promote the sustainable development principle, and to advise, monitor and assess public bodies in the achievement of their well-being objectives and, ultimately, progress towards achievement of the national well-being goals.

Local Service Boards will also be put on a statutory footing by the Bill, becoming Public Service Boards with a duty to develop their current ‘single integrated plans’ into local well-being plans. These plans will incorporate a number of existing duties to produce plans and strategies, aiming to provide greater integration of local planning.

The Bill has been developed over the last three years, through a number of stakeholder events, consultations and input from a Future Generations Bill Reference and Advisory Group, which included stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors. The Welsh Government published their White Paper: A Sustainable Wales – Better Choices for a Better Future, in December 2012, which consulted on the main proposals and concepts for the Bill. A summary of the consultation responses was published in May 2013.

From 18th February 2014 to the end of May 2014, the current Commissioner for Sustainable Futures led a pilot National Conversation on ‘the Wales we Want by 2050’, which encouraged the Welsh public to give their views on the Wales they want for future generations.

The Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee has held two scrutiny sessions on the White Paper, and will be scrutinising the Bill at Stage 1 in the autumn.