Providing advice to Public Services Boards as they plan together for well-being
Over the last few months, the leaders of public services across Wales have been using the recently published local well-being assessments to understand how they can contribute to the social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being of people in their areas.
As Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, I have a statutory duty to advise the Public Services Boards on how they might take steps to meet their local objectives in their well-being plans. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act says that they must seek my advice on this and I have up to 14 weeks to provide the advice in writing.
This has given me a great opportunity to engage with Public Services Boards at a critical time in their planning and from the outset, I wanted this period to be of maximum benefit to them. I wrote to them all in April setting out an approach based on continuing the conversation with officers and leaders, connecting people and recognising barriers to effectively using the Act. Additionally, I published ‘Well-being in Wales: Planning today for a better tomorrow‘ report that highlights the challenges and opportunities for the future.
This has meant my team over the past few months have met with officers and members of the Public Services Boards to understand how well-being planning is being approached and ensure my advice is both relevant and useful.
It has struck me that every area is approaching well-being planning in a different way and my team have used these ongoing conversations to understand the context of each area, the way they work together and their aspirations for working differently under the Act in future.
The resulting written advice is two-fold, both suggesting how Boards should continue to adopt new ways of working to meet their draft objectives and topic-based advice on how they might take steps to meet these objectives.
The first part of the advice suggest that Boards need to take time and give themselves space to challenge the way things have always been done, and clearly demonstrate how they have set their objectives using the sustainable development principle and five ways of working.
For example, for each objective, what do the leaders understand about long-term trends, the opportunities, risks and likely scenarios for this issue? Have they explored what the root causes of the issue may be and considered when would be the best point to intervene? Have they got the right people around the table, at the right level to make decisions around this issue?
How are they going to move away from just doing something that meets the objective, and instead, demonstrate that they are taking steps which maximise their contribution to each of the seven national well-being goals? How are they understanding the lived experiences of people in their area and how is this shaping their actions?
The second part of the advice is individually tailored, signposting them to useful resources and contacts and organisations, including referencing international, national and local work.
The Public Services Boards have begun this conversation and, to date, three Boards have received my advice. By November 2017, advice will have been provided to all 19 Public Services Boards and many will consult with a wide range of people on their draft well-being plans.
By May 2018, all of the leaders will have published their local well-being plan taking us one step further on our journey to creating a better tomorrow.