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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 16 November, 2015

Report of the Leader

Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act Draft Guidance

Purpose of the Report

  1. To seek Cabinet approval for the response to the draft guidance on the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act issued by Welsh Government on the 7th September 2015.

Recommendations

  1. That Cabinet note the content of the draft guidance on the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act issued by Welsh Government.
  2. That Cabinet approve the draft response to the consultation as contained within Appendix H of this report.
  3. That in respect of recommendation 2, use of article 14.14 of the Council's Constitution (urgent decision procedure) be authorised to enable the consultation response to be submitted to Welsh Government on the 16th November 2015.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To ensure that Cabinet are aware of the draft guidance on the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act.

2-3. To enable a response to the consultation to be submitted by the deadline of the 16th November 2015.

Background

  1. The aim of the Act, which comes into force in April 2016, is for public bodies to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Wales in accordance with the sustainable development principle. The Act sets out seven wellbeing goals against which specified public bodies must set and publish wellbeing objectives. These objectives must be designed to maximise the public body's contribution to the achievement of the wellbeing goals.
  2. The wellbeing goals are:
  • A more prosperous Wales
  • A resilient Wales
  • A healthier Wales
  • A more equal Wales
  • A Wales of cohesive communities
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.
  • A globally responsible Wales
  1. The Act aims to improve wellbeing in accordance with the sustainable development principle - ensuring that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  2. The sustainable development principle is made up of five key ways of working that public bodies are required to take into account when applying sustainable development. These are:
  • Looking to the long term so that we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
  • Taking an integrated approach so that public bodies look at all the wellbeing goals in deciding on their priorities
  • Involving a diversity of the population in the decisions that affect them
  • Working with others in a collaborative way to find shared sustainable solutions
  • Understanding the root causes of issues to prevent them from occurring

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Draft statutory guidance on the Act was published by Welsh Government on the 7th September and consultation on the guidance will close on the 16th November 2015. The guidance sets out the expectations for public bodies under the Act, the requirement to establish Public Service Boards and the necessary timeframes for the different activities required. The guidance has been published in a number of parts including specific guidance for public bodies, Public Service Boards and Community Councils.
  2. The core guidance (SPSF1) is attached as Appendix A. Appendix B is an extract from SPSF1 and is a diagram explaining the main parts of the wellbeing duty for public bodies and for public service boards. SPSF2 is the guidance to public bodies and their individual role and is attached as Appendix C. SPSF3 is the guidance for the newly established Public Service Boards and is attached as Appendix D. There are two annexes to this guidance and they are Appendices E and F. The final guidance is SPSF4 for Community Councils and is attached as Appendix G.
  3. The guidance sets out the timetable by which public bodies must publish their wellbeing objectives and their wellbeing statements, and specifies that both the objectives and statement may be published as part of the Local Authority's Corporate Plan. Under the Act, public bodies must also produce an annual report that details progress made against achieving the body's wellbeing objectives.
  4. The guidance also details a core set of activities which are common to the corporate governance of public bodies. It is suggested that applying the Act to these activities is likely to most effectively secure the type of change that the legislation is attempting to achieve. These activities are:
  • Corporate Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Workforce Planning
  • Performance Management
  • Financial Planning
  • Procurement
  • Assets
  1. As indicated above the Act also establishes Public Service Boards (PSBs), which are similar in many ways to the existing Local Service Board and will build on work already undertaken, although there are some differences. The Act will place a statutory duty upon the Local Authority, Local Health Board, the Welsh Fire & Rescue Authority and Natural Resources for Wales to attend as members of the PSB. In addition, the board must invite as 'invited participants' the Welsh Ministers, the Chief Constable of the police force in that area, the Police and Crime Commissioner, a person required to provide probation services in relation to the local authority area, and a body representing voluntary organisations in the area. The guidance sets out the different roles and responsibilities between 'members' and 'participants' and other partners. The guidance also sets out specific requirements in terms of the local assessment of need and the subsequent Wellbeing Plan.
  2. The PSB must publish a Wellbeing Plan which must be informed by a wellbeing assessment. The guidance sets out the process by which PSBs must produce an assessment of the state of wellbeing in the PSB area. This assessment must be published twelve months before the publication of the PSB's Wellbeing Plan. The PSB must publish a set of wellbeing objectives within the Wellbeing Plan and these must be designed in such a way as to maximise the PSB's contribution to the achievement of the wellbeing goals. In contributing to the achievement of the seven wellbeing goals, each PSB has a responsibility to improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of its area in accordance with the sustainable development principle. The plans are intended to provide a more holistic, citizen focused approach to the planning and delivery of public services and can also be used as a vehicle to fulfil other statutory duties. One of the challenges that will need to be reflected in the plan is a balance between meeting the needs of different communities as evidenced in the wellbeing assessment and the efficiencies that can be achieved through delivering services across a larger area.
  3. PSBs will also be required to produce an Annual Report setting out the steps taken to meet their objectives.
  4. The work of the PSB must be scrutinised by a designated local authority scrutiny committee, although the guidance acknowledges it will be legitimate for a subject scrutiny committee to scrutinise the work of the PSB in relation to a particular issue.
  1. The following illustrates the activities that must be undertaken by public bodies in implementing the Act:

  Action

Date

A Public Body must publish wellbeing objectives

No later than 31 March 2017

A Public Body must publish an Annual Report

No later than the 31 March 2018

  1. The following illustrates the activities that must be undertaken by Public Service Boards
 
 Action  Date
Public Service Board to be established April 2016
Wellbeing Assessment to be completed by PSB To be published at least 12 months before publication of the Wellbeing Plan
Wellbeing Plan to be published by PSB No later than 12 months following the 2017 local government election and no later than 12 months after each subsequent ordinary election
 Annual Report to be published by PSB  No later than 14 months after the publication of its first Wellbeing Plan
  1. Attached as Appendix H to the report is a response to the consultation on the draft guidance which has been framed around a number of set questions. The Act and draft guidance have also been discussed at meetings of the Cardiff and Vale Local Service Board and the Vale Local Service Board and the Vale LSB is currently drafting a response to the consultation with particular emphasis on the guidance for Public Service Boards.
  2. The draft response raises a number of points with regards to the guidance and in particular emphasises the need for work to be integrated and for a clear timetable to be issued. It is also requested that across the different parts of the guidance there is consistency in terminology and more linkages between the different parts of the guidance to provide greater clarity about the changes needed and their impact on other bodies e.g. between PSBs and community councils.

Activities already taking place to embed sustainability in the work of the Council

  1. Detailed below is an overview of some of the work already being undertaken across the Council and through the LSB which is consistent with our duties under the legislation and which reflects our commitment to promote sustainable development.
  2. Through the Vale LSB, the Community Strategy 2011-21 was published and is the single integrated plan for the Vale, setting out the priority outcomes that partners are working together to achieve including sustainable development. The strategy was informed by a unified needs assessment which was then refreshed in 2013 and subsequently informed the Community Strategy Delivery Plan 2014-18 which is focused on tackling poverty. The LSB has also produced four Annual Reports providing an analysis of performance, achievements and future activities. This work will provide strong foundations for the transition to the new PSB which will also provide the opportunity to ensure that our revised partnership arrangements are robust and effective and make the best use of resources.
  3. The Council is an early adopter of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act along with 10 other authorities from across Wales. Work has been undertaken, with the support of the WLGA, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and Netherwood Sustainable Futures, to ensure the Council's Reshaping Services Strategy is compatible with the Act. Further work will continue to align the Strategy and the Act and future workshops have been planned to brief staff and Members on the wholesale implications of the Act as the Council's Central Organising Principle.
  4. The Reshaping Services Strategy has been developed as the Council's proactive response to central government's austerity drive that has created a period of unprecedented financial pressure in the public sector. The strategy seeks to increase the sustainability of services through this period and into the future by assisting in engagement with partners in co-design, co-production and alternative methods of delivery. The strategy is compatible with the principles of sustainable development; living within environmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society, achieving a sustainable economy and promoting good governance and these principles will inform the evaluation of specific opportunities. In developing a new approach to how services are delivered due regard will be paid to effective engagement with staff, customers and partners including the Third Sector and Town and Community Councils and ensuring the needs of our most vulnerable residents are met. The strategy provides a framework for reviewing services and exploring new ways for service delivery to meet the needs of our customers and to make essential services more resilient for future generations.
  5. A key element of how the Council responds to the new legislation will be evident in the drafting of the new Corporate Plan 2016-20. The draft plan is structured around five wellbeing outcomes which reflect the wellbeing goals. Objectives have been drafted to provide a framework for activities to be undertaken in 2016-20 and this will demonstrate how the Council will contribute to the wellbeing goals. Workshops on each of the wellbeing outcomes have been held and officers are now working on a draft plan which will be considered in line with the development of the budget. A combined consultation exercise will be undertaken on the draft plan and budget. As part of the early adopters work, PWC will undertake a review of the draft Corporate Plan to ensure it is robust and demonstrates how the Council is contributing to the wellbeing goals. It is intended that the draft Corporate Plan will be presented to Cabinet on the 14th December for approval for consultation. Following consultation and scrutiny a revised plan will be brought to Cabinet in February prior to Council on the 2nd March 2016.
  6. In tandem to the development of the new Corporate Plan work is also being undertaken to review the Performance Management Framework and service planning process. This is being undertaken with due regard to the requirements of the Wales Audit Office and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act.
  7. Work is continuing to promote sustainability through a range of mechanisms. The implications of sustainability are considered and reflected by the corporate risk management group, external funding steering group and also in considering capital programme bids. Work on the implementation of the Act across Directorates will be led by the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG).

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The Act will initiate a way of working underpinned by the principle of sustainable development. The allocation of resources will itself be part of that way of working and budget planning will need to be examined with this in mind.
  2. Support for the work of the LSB is provided in the form of an LSB Support Officer funded by a Welsh Government LSB Support Grant. This grant is likely to cease in March 2016 and concern about resourcing the work of the new PSB in the absence of any alternative funding is raised within the attached consultation response.
  3. The support provided by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Netherwood Sustainable Futures with regard to the early adopters work is funded through Welsh Government and is being overseen by the Welsh Local Government Association.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The SDWG helps to ensure that arrangements are in place to support the promotion of sustainable development across the council including reporting arrangements to Corporate Management Team and Members.
  2. The Act places specific sustainable development duties on the Council as detailed in the body of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Local Government Measure 2009 introduced continuous improvement as a statutory duty for local government in Wales. The subsequent revised Wales Programme for Improvement guidance identifies sustainable development as a key driver for achieving continuous improvement.
  2. The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act received Royal Assent on the 29th  April 2015 and comes in to force on the 1st April 2016. The Act strengthens existing governance arrangements for improving the wellbeing of Wales to ensure that present needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The new legislation applies to a number of public bodies including local authorities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The wider definition of sustainability adopted by the Council includes ensuring a strong, healthy and just society which is linked to community safety issues.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The wider definition of sustainability adopted by the Council includes social justice, and will require a continued focus on equality and fairness.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Sustainable development has links to all corporate priorities and activities included in service plans for 2015/16 reflect commitments in the Corporate Plan 2013/17.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources

Background Papers

The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act

Statutory Guidance for the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac (Head of Performance and Development) - 01446 709760

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Sustainable Development Working Group

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Managing Director

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