8 Oct 2015

This paper identifies the main themes and the relevance of the Act for volunteer involving organisations (VIOs).

This paper identifies the main themes and the relevance of the Act for volunteer involving organisations (VIOs). The full details of the Act can be found here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/anaw/2015/2/pdfs/anaw_20150002_en.pdf

1        The Wellbeing Goals

2        The Sustainable Development Principle

3        The role of the Commissioner

4        Local well being plans - the role of public services boards

5        Some implications for Volunteer Involving Organisations  (VIOs)


The Wellbeing Goals

Section 2.4 of the Act outlines seven broad wellbeing goals for Wales:


Description of the goal

Prosperous Wales

An innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources efficiently and proportionately (including acting on climate change); and which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities, allowing people to take advantage of the wealth generated through securing decent work.

Resilient Wales

A nation which maintains and enhances a biodiverse natural environment with healthy functioning ecosystems that support social, economic and ecological resilience and the capacity to adapt to change (for example climate change).

Healthier Wales

A society in which people's physical and mental well-being is maximised and in which choices and behaviours that benefit future health are understood.

More equal Wales

A society that enables people to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances (including their socio economic background and circumstances).

Wales of cohesive communities

Attractive, viable, safe and well-connected communities.

Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language

A society that promotes and protects culture, heritage and the Welsh language, and which encourages people to participate in the arts, and sports and recreation.

Globally responsible Wales

A nation which, when doing anything to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, takes account of whether doing such a thing may make a positive contribution to global well-being.


The Act requires named public bodies to have objectives and plans in place to achieve progress toward these goals. It also provides for the role of Public Services Boards and for a Commissioner for Wellbeing, and outlines their responsibilities.


The Sustainable Development Principle

Section 2.5 describes what is meant when the Act refers to a public body doing something "in accordance with the sustainable development principle", namely that "the body must act in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of  future generations to meet their own needs."

A public body must take into account the following:

  • Balancing short term needs whilst safeguarding the ability to meet long term needs, particularly where short term action may have a detrimental long term effect.
  • The need for an integrated approach. For example steps may be taken toward meeting one objective which are detrimental to another
  • The importance of involving others with an interest in achieving the wellbeing goals and of ensuring  they reflect the diversity of the population
  • That resources may be used to prevent problems occurring or getting worse


The role of the Commissioner:

Section 2.18 outlines the Commisioner's role thus: 

(a) To promote the sustainable development principle, in particular to-
(i) Act as a guardian of the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and
(ii) Encourage public bodies to take greater account of the long-term impact of the things that they do, and
(b) For that purpose to monitor and assess the extent to which well-being objectives set by public bodies are being met.

The Commissioner can undertake reviews into the extent to which a public body is safeguarding the ability of future generations to meet their needs and Section 2.10 describes fully what this might involve.

The Commissioner is required to prepare and publish regular reports (described in Section 2.23) which will include an assessment of how public bodies should better safeguard the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and take greater account of the long-term impact of the things that they do. It will include a summary of any research undertaken by the Commissioner and of any other action taken by the Commissioner in the reporting period.

The Commissioner must consult with various bodies before publishing their report, including 'representatives of voluntary organisations in Wales'

There will be a panel of Advisors to the Commissioner, including other appointed Commissioners (for Welsh Language, Children, Older People, the Chairperson  of the Natural Resources Body for Wales, and others).


Local well being plans- the role of public services boards

Section 2.29 describes the membership of public services boards which are to be established for each local authority area to draw up a local well being  Each board must invite  the participation of various others, including "at least one body representing relevant voluntary organisations (whether or not  the body is known as a County Voluntary Council)."

Each public services board must improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of its area by contributing to the achievement of the well-being goals.

A public services board's contribution to the achievement of the goals must include-
(a) assessing the state of economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being in its area
(b) setting objectives that are designed to maximise its contribution within its area to achieving those goals. These form the basis of the "local wellbeing plan"
(c) the taking of all reasonable steps by members of the board (in exercising their functions) to meet those objectives

Anything a public services board does under this section must be done in accordance with the sustainable development principle.

Further details are prescribed as to what the assessment report and the local well being plan entails. The latter will include statements:

"(a) Explaining why the board considers that meeting the local objectives will contribute within the area to achieving the well-being goals;
(b) Explaining how the objectives and any proposed steps have been set with regard to any matters mentioned in the most recent assessment of well-being published under section 37;
(c) Specifying the periods of time within which the board expects to meet the objectives;
(d) Explaining how any proposed steps are to be taken in accordance with the sustainable development principle;
(e) If the plan includes objectives referred to in subsection (2)(b), specifying the proposed steps to be taken to meet those objectives and, in the case of steps to be taken by a combination of members of the board, invited participants or other partners, the persons making up the combination;
(f) If the plan is not the first plan published by the board, specifying the steps taken to meet the objectives set out in the board's previous plan and specifying the extent to which those objectives have been met;
(g) Providing such other information as the board considers appropriate."

Before publishing its local service plan, the public services board must consult with various bodies including the boards "invited participants" (which includes at least one body representing relevant voluntary organisations), "other partners" and "any relevant voluntary organisation as the board considers appropriate" and "any other persons who, in the opinion of the board, are interested in the improvement of the area's economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing".


Some implications for Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIOs)

a) Volunteering can have a significant impact on one or more of the defined wellbeing goals in either or both of the following ways
i) The activities of volunteers can impact  positively on the wellbeing of clients,  customers, the local community or the environment
ii) Volunteering can have a positive impact on volunteers themselves, for example in terms of health, social integration or employability. These are a legitimate part of the local picture which local service boards are required to assess
b) Mechanisms need to be sought for volunteer involving organisations to   communicate with local public services boards, either directly, or through a voluntary sector representative. Opportunities should be actively sought  to contribute to these, or at least to see draft reports during their consultation phase
c) VIOs need to continue to develop ways of monitoring and communicating the impact of volunteering on wellbeing. This will enable their work to be better integrated into local planning and will  raise  the profile of volunteering and its potential, both locally and nationally


Fiona Liddell
September 2015


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