Wellbeing of Wales Report 2021

Today we published the fifth annual Wellbeing of Wales report, providing insight on the state of the nation and the progress that’s being made against the seven wellbeing goals.

Six years on from the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015, we have taken stock within each chapter of not only what we have learned over the last year, but also an assessment of the long term progress towards the goals using the 46 national indicators and other data.

As with last year’s report, the pandemic has continued to have an impact on some of the data. Some data collections have been delayed and others have had to change approach to accommodate the challenges posed by the pandemic. Data for some national indicators do not yet cover the pandemic period. Where data has continued to be available, the trends understandably look very different this year for some topics, and this is more pronounced for some groups in society than others. This all adds to the complexity of interpreting Wales’s longer term progress towards the well-being goals, with the full impact of the pandemic likely to play out over a number of years to come.

One of the themes emerging from this year’s report is the impact of the pandemic on inequalities which, in a number of cases, have widened. For example, older people, men and people in ethnic minority groups were more at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. In the labour market, there has been a disproportionate impact on groups that were already disadvantaged, including people in low paid jobs, in less secure employment, young people and people reaching the end of their working lives. At the highest GCSE grades, the school performance gap has widened between those who are eligible for free school meals and those who are not. There has also been a widening of inequalities in sports participation. In contrast, however, the gender pay gap is now at its lowest rate ever recorded and community cohesion has seen substantial improvements.

Another major emergency facing the world is the climate and nature emergency. This year’s report includes findings from the latest assessment from Natural Resources Wales which concludes that biological diversity has declined and Wales is using up resources at an unsustainable rate. Progress is being made in some areas, as Wales continues to be one of the leading nations in the world on recycling and there has been further progress in renewable energy capacity. The number of newly registered ultra-low emission vehicles has tripled (although from a low base). However the pace of change needed is likely to be much greater in future.

Upcoming changes to the national indicators

This report draws on the set of 46 national indicators in order to assess progress towards Wales’ seven wellbeing goals. As you will have heard on this blog previously, this year we have taken the opportunity to look again at the set of national indicators and identify where the pandemic has highlighted gaps. As a result, we are consulting on two potential additions to the indicators on modes of travel and digital inclusion, as well as seeking views on any other gaps.

The consultation also sets out proposals for the first ever national milestones. Milestones are a measureable ambition which describe the pace and scale of change required in key areas under the seven wellbeing goals. The consultation includes proposals for nine milestones against eight of the national indicators.

The consultation on national indicators and milestones is open until 26 October and I look forward to hearing your views.

Next year’s Wellbeing of Wales report will cover the new indicator set as well as reporting against the national milestones.

Stephanie Howarth

Chief Statistician

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