Chief Statistician’s update: Measuring Well-being of Wales and future reporting plans

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

CaptureOn 20 September I published the second Well-being of Wales 2017-18 report. I believe the report provides a valuable snapshot of life in Wales, giving a wide ranging picture of well-being outcomes from life expectancy, the economy, poverty, biodiversity to the arts. This is information which should be invaluable for people in involved in public service and beyond to help them understand our nation and to make better decisions.


What does the report tell us about the Well-being of Wales in 2018?

When it came to summarising our progress towards the well-being goals, as might be expected given the breadth of the report, there is a mixed picture. In the report we state that there are many areas where outcomes are improving, but also continued areas of inequality across population groups. In some areas, latest data suggests that progress may have stalled in the short-term, and other areas have remained broadly stable over the longer term. Key messages can be found in this Slideshare and the full report.

We know that many factors can influence individual well-being and they can be inter-related. As part of our programme of work we have sought to use statistical analysis of the National Survey for Wales to identify the factors that are most important to people’s well-being and this is reflected within the community cohesion chapter.

Also we have not restricted ourselves in the report to looking at the 46 national well-being indicators since many other factors can influence those well-being outcomes. We have therefore reported on other relevant data, such as low emission vehicles, modes of commuting and adverse childhood experiences. We’ve also included a wide range of contextual data that directly relate to the UN Sustainable Development Goals from the perspective of Wales’ global contribution. For example, including data on vaccination uptake, asylum seekers, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and international students.

Understanding children’s well-being

Capture1Since the National Survey for Wales doesn’t include children in the sample we’ve worked with academic colleagues to incorporate a range of new data on children’s well-being from the Schools Health Research Network and the Millennium Cohort Study. I’m very grateful for the support we’ve received from colleagues towards this. We’ve also drawn out the relevant narrative about children into a separate report ‘What do we know about children’s well-being?’ which will hopefully be a useful reference document for understanding children’s well-being in Wales. Key messages for children can be found in this Slideshare and the report. We don’t intend to do this every year, but we will consider doing it every few years if you would find this useful.

The difficult second album?

Our aim for the Well-being of Wales report was always to provide a long-term view of progress against the goals. What we soon identified in producing the second report was that much of the long-term narrative wouldn’t change very quickly and in fact for some sources new data does not exist. This meant that we had the challenge of ensuring we were keeping the report fresh, whilst balancing the need to report on progress against the fact some data are inherently volatile and are far better analysed over the longer term. We sought to do this by adding a new section at the start of each narrative ‘What have we learnt from the data in the last year?’ and would welcome feedback on how well we achieved this.

A new approach for next year

Given the lessons we’ve learnt from this year we propose to focus in 2019 on producing a shorter update on progress against the goals, and what latest data are telling us about the well-being of Wales, rather than producing another comprehensive annual well-being report.

A full annual well-being report is a major exercise and I propose that we publish the full and comprehensive update every 4-5 years to a timetable that best meets the needs of users and aligned with other requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

This change of approach will mean we will:

  • in September 2019, publish a clear narrative on change and progress over the previous year
  • publish data all year round for the 46 national well-being indicators as they are updated
  • prioritise our resources on interpreting the data, the factors behind well-being and analysing progress
  • produce occasional bespoke topic-based reports to supplement the Well-being of Wales report, as we have done for children this year (we’d welcome views on priorities).

Furthermore in 2019 we will be publishing the updated Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation which is another major cross-cutting exercise for our statisticians, so an alternative approach to Well-being of Wales will ensure that we are able to prioritise our resources across the two projects.

In July the Cabinet Secretary for Finance gave an update on plans to set national milestones. These milestones will also be reported against in future Well-being of Wales reports.

Your feedback is important
Please contact me if you have any feedback on these plans ( Ensuring that our statistical work has public value is incredibly important and therefore we want to understand how you use the Well-being of Wales report to help inform future plans.

The UK Statistics Authority is currently assessing the extent to which the Well-being of Wales meets the professional standards set out in the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics.  As part of this they are seeking the views of users and potential users. You can find out more about the assessment, their user engagement exercise and how to provide your views on their website.

Glyn Jones
Chief Statistician

27 November 2018