Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill [HL]

Explanatory Notes

Overview of the Bill

1 The first part of this Bill establishes a set of national wellbeing goals, formulated by the Secretary of State and confirmed via a public consultation. It places a duty on public bodies and government departments to set objectives in line with these goals, whilst demonstrating certain ‘ways of working’; these are a consideration for the long-term, prevention, planning for risk, collaboration, integration and involvement. Decisions are to be accompanied by future generations impact assessments to ensure longer-term unintended consequences on national wellbeing are mitigated.

2 The second part of this Bill focuses on improving planning and spending within Government. The Bill establishes a futures and forecasting report which assesses the risks and trends, for at least the forthcoming 25 years, and lays out detailed plans on mitigating these risks; the Bill makes provision that when doing so, the views of various relevant groups must be accounted for, including the UK and UN Climate Change Committees and the views of 11-25 year olds on wellbeing. This is to improve the United Kingdom’s preparedness for existential risk. Currently, the Cabinet Office’s National Risk Register only accounts for two years into the future. The Bill also requires departments to categorise their spending into preventative tiers to encourage public bodies to think about investing more money in the short-term to make savings in the long-term, encouraging a pivot towards prevention rather than immediate relief.

3 To improve transparency and accountability within Government, the Bill allocates powers to the head of the National Audit Office to conduct examinations on public bodies in order to assess whether a body has acted in accordance with its wellbeing duties. The Bill extends the Office for Budget Responsibility’s responsibilities to examine the extent to which progress is being made towards the national indicators and subsequent milestones. This, combined with the futures and forecasting report, is used to produce advice to the Treasury to ensure long-term fiscal risks are mitigated. A Joint Select Committee on Future Generations is also established by the Bill to ensure any relevant incoming legislation can be reviewed and amendments suggested. The Bill makes provision for there to be a minister in each Government department in charge of safeguarding future generations’ interests. Their role is to promote the wellbeing goals when formulating policy and, through observing how the Bill is applied within departments, they can also feed back into how the national indicators should be adapted (after consulting with the Joint Committee and the Commission). A Future Generations Commission is to be established, consisting of an expert from each country of the United Kingdom and a young person from each devolved country to improve understanding of the future generations principle amongst public bodies and the public.


20 May 2021