Future Generations Act a framework for transformation not tick-box
New legislation can result in a whirlwind of activity and bureaucracy. If you’re at the sharp end of making sure your organisation is kept safe, then current organisational cultures often make ticking the box a natural response.
This is why I am so passionate about making sure the Well-being of Future Generations Act does not fall into that trap.
Yes, there are check points along the way – dates by which certain things must be done and these will be important to tracking progress. But if they become the main focus of our efforts we will miss this unique opportunity – this act is a framework for changing these types of culture which all too often can result in boxes being ticked but no improvements for our citizens. The Sustainable Development principle and five ways of working set out in the Act requires us to think and act differently.
Aligning the timescales set out in the Act was always going to be tricky during its first phase of implementation.
So I am delighted, that, in its true spirit, the Welsh Local Government Association, Welsh Government, the Auditor General for Wales and I have worked together, with a focus on the longer-term, to provide clarity for local authorities and others seeking advice regarding separate statutory objective setting and reporting duties through the Local Government Measure 2009 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, in particular, given the interpretation of statutory timescales and the implications of the local elections in May.
We have written together to public bodies and you can read the full letter here. In summary it sets out that:
- We have agreed that the main focus should be on the approach taken to set well-being objectives and how this integrates with the rest of the organisational culture and processes
- Although it is ultimately up to you how you discharge your duties in relation to the Local Government Measure 2009 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, the associated timings for publication are set in law. The well-being objectives must be published by the 31st March 2017 and an ‘improvement plan‘ should be published ‘as soon as is reasonably practicable after the start of the financial year to which the plan must relate’ – normally interpreted as the 30th June. It may help public bodies that the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 also states that a ‘public body may at any other time review and revise its well-being objectives…and publish (the revised objectives) as soon as is reasonably practicable’
- Under the Local Government Measure 2009, Local Authorities must also publish a Performance Assessment by the 31st October. Public bodies should seek to integrate this assessment with the Well-being Annual Report they are required to publish under the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015
- Although this current position, the Welsh Government has indicated that intends to revoke the provisions of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 in the future, through any forthcoming Local Government reform legislation (it is anticipated that next week’s White Paper will set out the Welsh Government’s proposals). To give a broad indications of timescales, it is likely that any new reforms would probably apply from April 2020