10 June 2015
Article by Graham Winter, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
The First Minister is making his fourth annual statement about progress in delivering the Programme for Government to Plenary on 16 June. This is likely to be the last such update before the next Assembly election in May 2016.
The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government was published in September 2011. It contains a ‘roadmap’ for the Fourth Assembly that ’emphasises the outcomes’ the Government is working towards. It sets out high-level aims and specific actions for twelve broad areas of policy. It also shows how the Government will measure progress and which Ministers are responsible for delivery, as well as key partners who will be involved in that delivery. Some of these Ministerial responsibilities have since changed as a result of the Cabinet reshuffles in March 2013 and September 2014.
In launching the Programme for Government the First Minister said:
I was clear in asking for a mandate that this administration would be characterised by a focus on delivery. A mature Government must be able to demonstrate its effectiveness in the delivery of results that people can measure, and in terms of change that can be seen and understood. The programme for government is central to this.
For each of the 12 policy areas the programme includes a number of Long-term Outcome Indicators of how Wales is performing as a country, plus more detailed Tracking Indicators that are to show how action by the Welsh Government ‘is making a positive difference’. Although a number of the indicators are intended to show a desired ‘direction of travel’ (eg: an ‘increase’ in the percentage of energy from renewable sources), the programme doesn’t include specific targets to be achieved.
Whilst many of the indicators take the form of statistical measures, some are more subjective assessments of progress (eg: Progress against the recommendations of the Community Cohesion Programme Evaluation). Some but not all of the indicators include comparisons with other parts of the UK.
The 2012 Annual report gave information on progress made towards achieving the 122 Outcome Indicators and 224 Tracking Indicators from the 2011 programme.
Both the 2013 Annual report and 2014 Annual report added some new Outcome and Tracking Indicators and also removed some. Tables showing these changes for 2013 and 2014 are available on the Welsh Government’s website. In total so far 48 new indicators have been added and 34 have been removed altogether. A small number of the indicators have also been amended in some way.
In 2014 for the first time a Report on the well-being of people and communities in Wales was also published. This presented ten ‘domains’ of well-being, which the report says reflect different aspects of well-being impacting on the people of Wales. Progress for each domain is measured using a selection of the existing Programme for Government measures. The Office for National Statistics uses the same ten domains to measure ‘national’ well-being, although it uses different indicators to measure progress.
With the approval of the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 it will be interesting to see if the Welsh Government will continue to use these ten domains or whether it will now replace them with the national well-being goals set out in the Act.
Alongside the 2013 annual report, data for each of the indicators was made available online on the website for the first time, rather than as part of the published report. This information was last updated when the June 2014 annual report was published, although in some cases more up‑to-date information has since become available. Both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive publish statistical updates for their equivalent indicators on a more regular basis.
See last year’s blog post on the Programme for Government for more information about how progress is measured by the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.
*Image from Wikimedia Commons by Seth Whales. Licensed under Creative Commons.