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Foreword by the Chief Statistician

This is now the fifth time the annual Wellbeing of Wales report has been published, 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 used here. 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. 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.

Later this year the milestones and updated indicators will be laid before the Senedd. This will include previously agreed changes to the indicators which were delayed due to the pandemic, as well as new suggestions. The previously agreed changes include:

  • amending the indicators around the quality of work, taking into account the recommendations of the Fair Work Commission
  • using a new National Survey for Wales question set on ‘active global citizens’ to replace the indicator on Sustainable Development Goal partnerships
  • extending the pay equality indicator to include ethnicity and disability pay gaps, alongside the existing indicator on gender pay
  • extending the indicator on emissions of greenhouse gases to bring it in line with the Environment Act (Wales) 2016; the main change will be to include Wales’ share of international aviation and international shipping
  • amending the indicator on Welsh speakers to reflect the number rather than the percentage of Welsh speakers; this is consistent with the national ambition to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050
  • renaming the ecological footprint as the global footprint, which more accurately reflects how it is referred to internationally and the cross-cutting nature of what is measured

Where data is available, we have reported on some of these new topics in this year’s Wellbeing of Wales report as it provides valuable context and insight alongside the existing indicators. Next year’s report will cover the new indicator set as well as reporting against the national milestones.

Stephanie Howarth
Chief Statistician

Main points

  • The Welsh labour market continues to perform strongly, with the gap between Wales and the UK narrow in historical terms. 
  • As across the UK as a whole, the growth in the economy and in real incomes has been sluggish since the recession of 2008, reflecting weak productivity growth. Over the longer run, since 1999, Wales has broadly kept pace with the UK as a whole, but its performance continues to be weak compared with many other parts of the UK.   
  • Young people’s (19 to 24 year olds), participation in education and the labour market has increased over the period since the recession of 2008 before levelling off more recently.  
  • The qualification profile of the Welsh working age population has been improving over time. Attainment in secondary schools has risen in recent years, although children from deprived backgrounds still have poorer outcomes.  
  • There has been little change in overall relative income poverty levels in Wales for over 15 years, though there has been a slight increase in child poverty in recent years.  
  • The latest comprehensive assessment of Welsh natural resources (SoNaRR) shows that overall, biological diversity is declining. Most habitat types have seen a reduction in diversity over the last 100 years, with the rate of decline increasing from the 1970s onwards.  
  • Wales is a world leader in household recycling, but we continue to use up resources faster than they can be replenished.  
  • Air quality has improved greatly since the 1970s, but remains a risk to human health.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by nearly a third since the 1990s, despite some periods of increases. More rapid change will be needed in future to meet targets.
  • Installed electrical capacity from renewable energy continues to increase but at a slower pace than in recent years. 
  • Life expectancy had been rising, although at a slower pace in the past decade. However, it has fallen for the most recent period, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Healthy life expectancy continues to be worse for those living in more deprived areas, but there isn't evidence that the gap is increasing.  
  • The proportion of babies born with a low birth weight has increased in recent years, following the lowest figures in 2014 and 2015. 
  • The proportion of children who were up to date with their routine immunisations by four years of age was 88% this year, the highest since this measure was first reported on. 
  • Latest data shows the gender pay gap has decreased to 4.3%, an all-time low. Latest data also shows the ethnicity pay gap has decreased. On average, employees from ethnic minority groups earn around 1.4% less per hour than white British employees, although there are large differences among different ethnic minorities. 
  • In the latest year there has been a substantial increase in community cohesion. However, it is too early to tell if this is the beginning of a sustained trend.  
  • There has been an increase in people feeling that they can influence decisions in their local area which appears to reverse a downward trend seen in the previous two sets of results.
  • Recorded race hate crime incidents have fallen slightly in 2019-20.
  • Prior to the pandemic, there was no change in the share of adults or children regularly taking part in sport. More recently, the pandemic has widened inequalities in sports participation.
  • Latest survey data suggests that there are increases in the percentage of people who say they can speak Welsh, but not fluently. Use of the language remains steady.  
  • Conditions of listed buildings in Wales have generally been stable, but fewer recently assessed monuments are in a stable condition.
  • In 2021 the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales has been added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, becoming the fourth in Wales.

A prosperous Wales

Authors: Jonathan Price and Luned Jones

The goal: 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.

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

  • The effects of the pandemic have dominated other factors impacting economic outcomes, including the transition to a new trading relationship with the European Union. The evolution of the pandemic and its longer term consequences remain highly uncertain at the time of writing.
  • Underlying Welsh economic performance continues to be weaker than the UK as a whole in terms of economic output (gross value added) and household income (gross disposable household income), but is broadly similar to those parts of the UK with similar characteristics.
  • Data has continued to indicate that the historic gaps in employment and activity rates between Wales and other parts of the UK have narrowed, with Wales out-performing some English regions. This represents a marked change from the period prior to devolution in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Labour market data is volatile over the short term and it is important not to over-interpret recent changes, particularly in the context of the pandemic.  With this caveat, labour market data suggests the pandemic has impacted Welsh economic performance in a way that is broadly similar to the UK (excluding London).
  • While Welsh performance on pay and productivity remains less positive than labour market performance, data indicates modest improvements in Wales’ relative productivity over the last decade, reversing deterioration prior to the recession of 2008.
  • It is too soon to assess the effects of the pandemic on young people, though early evidence indicates that they have been disproportionately affected by the socio-economic consequences.
  • Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the share of 16 to 18 year olds who were in education, employment or training fell slightly to 88.9% at the end of 2019, whilst the rate for 19 to 24 year olds rose slightly to 84.3%.
  • The gender pay gap fell in April 2020 to 4.3%, and evidence from the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings and the Labour Force Survey suggests that COVID-19 factors had not yet had a notable impact on the gender pay gap in the UK. 
  • The most recent (pre-pandemic) data on overall rates of relative income poverty suggest they are largely unchanged in Wales. There was a small increase in child poverty rates, contrasting with a small decrease in pensioner poverty.
  • Overall, qualification levels in Wales increased in 2020, continuing the general increase seen over time.
  • Attainment at secondary school (using GCSE grades across all subjects), increased from the previous year. Children from deprived backgrounds continue to have poorer outcomes than other groups. Girls continue to outperform boys.
  • The number of newly registered ultra-low emission vehicles registered in Wales tripled between 2019 and 2020 to over 3,600.

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

Progress towards the goal has been mixed, with major improvements in overall labour market performance but less progress in addressing poverty and low income levels. Progress has been made on decarbonisation, but more rapid change will be needed in future to meet targets.

The pandemic has had a dominant effect on the most recent data, and the implications for longer term trends is unclear. For this reason, the following conclusions are drawn mainly on the basis of pre-pandemic evidence.

  • As across the UK as a whole, the growth in the economy and in real incomes has been sluggish since the recession of 2008, reflecting weak productivity growth. Over the longer run, since 1999, Wales has broadly kept pace with the UK as a whole, but its performance continues to be weak compared with many other parts of the UK. 
  • Average household incomes in Wales are considerably closer to the UK average than gross value added (GVA) per head, with differences depending on the measure used and with the gap smallest when assessed for the median household.
  • The Welsh labour market continues to perform strongly, with the gap between Wales and the UK narrow in historic terms.
  • For 19 to 24 year olds, participation in education and the labour market has increased over the period since the recession of 2008.
  • Wales has more people in low paid work than some other parts of the UK.  In addition, the evidence on other aspects of the quality of work suggests a mixed picture in Wales.
  • There has been little change in overall relative income poverty levels in Wales for over 15 years, though there has been a slight increase in child poverty in recent years.
  • The qualification profile of the Welsh working age population has been improving over time. Attainment in secondary schools has risen in recent years, although children from deprived backgrounds still have poorer outcomes.
  • Management of the interaction between economic growth and the development of an innovative, low carbon economy is complex and poses challenges, but there are positive signs in some sectors.
  • Travel makes a substantial contribution to carbon emissions, but there is no evidence of a shift away from cars as the main method of travel.

Gross value added

As across the UK as a whole, the growth in the economy and in real incomes has been sluggish since the recession of 2008, reflecting poor productivity growth.

Over the longer run, since 1999, and taking economic indicators in the round, Wales has broadly kept pace with the UK. While its economic performance continues to be weak compared with many other parts of the UK, productivity data over the last decade gives some grounds for optimism.

Gross value added (GVA) represents the value of all goods and services produced in an area. It is both the source of the real incomes people earn and the base on which taxes can be levied to fund public services.

While GVA per head of population in Wales has grown broadly in line with the UK since 1999, it remains lower than almost all other countries and regions of the UK.

Looking at progress more recently, GVA per head in Wales grew a little more slowly in 2019 than across the UK as a whole. It increased by 2.1% (not accounting for inflation).

Wales’ poor comparative performance on GVA per head is mainly a reflection of relatively low productivity levels. Productivity, measured as GVA per hour worked continues to be lower in Wales than almost all other parts of the UK. In 2019 it was 84% of the UK figure, an increase of 0.2 percentage points over the previous year.

Data covering the most recent decade confirms modest improvements in relative productivity (GVA per hour worked), perhaps reversing a trend of deterioration prior to the recession.

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Line chart showing the gross value added (GVA) per head in Wales has grown broadly in line with the UK since 1999, and in 2019 was 85% of the UK figure.

Household income

Household income is a better indicator of people’s prosperity and material wellbeing than GVA. Average household incomes in Wales are considerably closer to the UK average than GVA per head, but there are differences depending on the measure used, with the gap narrowest when median incomes are considered. Data is currently available only up until 2018, so this section focuses on longer run trends.

The national indicator on income uses the measure gross disposable household income (GDHI). On this measure Wales, according to the most recent data (2018), is at 81% of the UK figure, having fallen from 88% at its peak in 2003. This relative fall has partly been driven by a steep increase in household incomes in London, which has helped to drive up the UK average.

Whilst Wales has the second lowest GDHI per head of the UK countries and regions, it is broadly comparable to areas of the UK with similar characteristics.

Wales performs better on an indicator of median household income (after allowing for housing costs). On this indicator, which better reflects the circumstances of a typical household, average incomes in Wales have generally been well over 90% of the UK figure, and nearer 95% in recent years. However, even on this measure, Wales remains near the bottom of the ‘league table’ of UK countries and regions.

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The line chart shows that gross disposable household income (GDHI) per head increased for Wales and the UK between 1999 and 2018, with the gap widening slightly.

Labour market

Over the last year, changes in the Welsh labour market have been driven by the effects of the pandemic. Taking a longer term perspective, the labour market in Wales continues to perform strongly in relative terms, with the gap between Wales and the UK narrow in comparison with the historic position.

Most labour market data is survey-based and volatile, and short run changes should not be over-interpreted. In broad terms, over the last year the employment rate has decreased, and unemployment increased, reflecting the impact of the pandemic.  

Data from more timely administrative sources indicates that the labour market in Wales has generally tracked with wider UK (excluding London) during the pandemic.

The gaps in employment and activity rates between Wales and the UK remain narrow in a historical context, with Wales out-performing a number of UK regions.

COVID-19 has had adverse labour market effects which have disproportionately affected groups that were already disadvantaged. This includes people in low paid jobs, in less secure employment, young people, people reaching the end of their working lives, and people in various groups that were already experiencing labour market inequalities.  Further analysis of the impact on inequalities is included in the More equal Wales chapter.

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Line chart showing that the employment rate for people aged 16-64 broadly increased for both Wales and the UK between 1999 and 2019 (with a dip around 2008-2010), but with recent a decrease for both rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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A line chart showing a general decrease in the economic inactivity rate for people aged 16-64 for Wales and the UK between 1999 and 2019, with more recent increases for Wales.

Participation in education and the labour market

Prior to the pandemic, young people’s participation in education and the labour market had grown since the recession. It is too soon to assess the impact of the pandemic on this trend. 

Using the main measure of young people in education, employment or training, there had been increases among young people aged 19 to 24 prior to the pandemic. For 16 to 18 year olds, the proportion increased slightly between 2008 and 2012, and has fluctuated at around 89-90% in recent years.

The effect of the 2008 recession was felt more sharply by the 19 to 24 age group. Since then, the share in education or the labour market has generally been increasing, though it has levelled off in the most recent two years.  At the end of 2019 the rate stood at 84.3%, around 7 percentage points higher than in 2012.

At age 16 to 18, females are more likely than males to be in education, employment or training. In the 19 to 24 age group, males typically have higher participation rates than females though the gap has narrowed in recent years.

More recent figures on young people in education, employment or training are available from a secondary, less robust source. These suggest an increase for both 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 year olds in 2020.

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Line chart showing the percentage of people aged 16-18 in education, employment or training has remained around 89-90% for the past 15 years, with the equivalent proportion of 19-24 increasing in the years leading up to the pandemic.

Earnings

Based on the unofficial ‘Real Living Wage’, Wales has more people in low paid work than some other parts of the UK, but the share is similar to a number of regions in the north of England. 

The real living wage is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation who determined the methodology (which has changed since previous publications). It aims to reflect the cost of living. In the most recent period (April 2020), 22.4% of employees in Wales earned less than the real living wage. This share has fallen from 23.1% in 2012, when the living wage was introduced, but there is no clear trend over time.

It is much more common for part-time employees to earn less than the real living wage compared with full-time employees (38.6% compared to 15.7%).

Some 30% of employees are covered by collective bargaining arrangements, where pay and conditions are negotiated between an employer and a trade union. This share has been falling, but remains higher in Wales than in many areas of England.

Over the longer term, the gender pay gap has been falling. However, it rose in 2018, falling back to 6.2% in 2019 and to an all-time low of 4.3% in 2020. These gaps do not take into account differences in education levels and experience, which vary across genders and affect earning levels.

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Line chart showing the percentage difference in earnings between men and women has generally decreased for Wales and the UK since 1999, with a lower gap in Wales than in England in recent years.

Quality of work

The evidence on quality of work suggests a mixed picture in Wales.

There is survey evidence to suggest that workers report some aspects of jobs in Wales are on average better than for the UK as a whole. These aspects include relationships with managers, involvement in organisational decision-making and high levels of task discretion. However, the same survey suggested that Welsh workers had the highest levels of stress in Britain.

The national indicator on quality of employment is the percentage of people in employment who are on permanent contracts (or on temporary contracts and not seeking permanent work) and who earn more than two-thirds of the UK median wage.

In 2020, 70.7% of people in employment met this definition. This figure has generally been increasing since 2016.

The percentage of people satisfied with their job remains broadly unchanged, standing at 82% in 2019-20. Job satisfaction tends to increase with age.

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Bar chart showing the percentage of people in employment earning more than 2/3 of the UK median average wage. In 2020, 70.7% of people in employment met this definition. This figure has generally been increasing since 2016.

Poverty and deprivation

The percentage of people living in relative income poverty has been relatively stable in Wales for over 15 years, and lower than the rates during the 1990s. 

People living in relative income poverty are those who live in a household where the total household income from all sources is less than 60% of the average UK household income (as given by the median).

Children are more likely to be in relative income poverty than the population overall. In the most recent data there was a small increase in the rate of children in relative income poverty (after housing costs were paid), up to 31% in 2017-2020. Relative income poverty for working-age adults remains steady in Wales but is still above that seen for other UK countries. The percentage of pensioners in relative income poverty fell by 1 percentage point for the second consecutive period following a gradual rise since around 2013.

In the most recent period, 71% of children who were living in relative income poverty lived in working households (around 140,000 children). This has increased for the last five periods from 60% in the period 2012 to 2015.

A person is considered to be in persistent poverty if he or she is in relative income poverty in at least 3 out of 4 consecutive years. An individual in Wales had a 12% likelihood of being in persistent poverty between 2015 and 2019 (after housing costs were paid). A child in Wales had a slightly higher likelihood of being in persistent poverty at 15%.

Material deprivation is a measure of living standards and a person is defined to be living in material deprivation if he or she is not able to access a certain number of goods and services. Low income households are those that had a total household income below 70% of the UK average household income, before housing costs were paid. 14% of children living in Wales between 2017-18 and 2019-20 were in material deprivation and low income households. This is a 3 percentage point increase from that reported last year, but trends can be volatile. 7% of pensioners living in Wales between 2017-18 and 2019-20 were in material deprivation.

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Line chart showing that the proportions of those in relative income poverty (by age) are generally lower than in the 1990s, but have remained relatively stable in recent years. Children are consistently the group most likely to be in relative income poverty and pensioners are now the least likely.

Qualifications

The qualification profile of the Welsh population has been improving over time.

Skills and qualifications are the biggest single influence on people’s chance of being in employment and on their incomes.

Latest data shows there continues to be an improvement in the share of people qualified at higher levels. In 2020, 41.4% of working age adults were qualified to at least higher education level (known as NQF level 4), up from 38.8% the year before. The change in the proportion of working age adults in Wales holding qualifications at level 4 or above represented the largest year-on-year increase since statistics began being calculated under the 18 to 64 working age population definition in 2008.

Over the last decade, there have been large falls in the share of working age people with no qualifications, and this now stands at 7.3%.

Older adults are more likely to have no qualifications than younger adults.

There are higher proportions of males than females with no qualifications in nearly all age groups. Females are more likely to hold qualifications at or above level 4.

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Line chart showing that between 2008 and 2020, the proportion of the working age population with no qualifications has steadily decreased and the proportion qualified to NQF level 4 or above has increased.

Attainment in schools

Attainment in schools has risen in recent years, although children from deprived backgrounds still have poorer outcomes.

In 2019, at age 4, around 6 in 10 children were at or above the expected developmental level for their age in maths and language, literacy and communication in English. Around 9 in 10 children were within one stage of their expected development. These figures are similar to the previous year.

The picture is different for language, literacy and communication in Welsh, where around 1 in 3 children were at a stage consistent with their development. This is due to children from non-Welsh speaking families being enrolled in Welsh medium schools. To put this into context, by the end of the Foundation Phase at age 7, around 82% achieve the expected level.

The GCSE grade distribution indicator on secondary school performance focuses on year 11 pupils’ GCSE results across all subjects. In 2019/20 the percentage of entries awarded A* to A, A* to C and A* to G was the highest since 2014/15 with the increase in the latest year being greater than in all other years. Outcomes were lower for pupils eligible for free school meals.

Girls continue to outperform boys in each of the 5 Key Stage 4 indicators.

Following the cancelation of public examinations in summer 2020, all grades that would have been awarded following an examination were replaced with the best of either the centre assessed grade (CAG) or the standardised grade calculated by the WJEC.

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Bar chart showing that the percentage of entries at A*-G was lower for those eligible for free school meals than those not eligible, for each of the last 5 years. This gap narrowed in 2019/20.

Greenhouse gas emissions from business

Managing the interaction between economic growth and an innovative, low carbon economy is complex and poses challenges, but there are positive signs.

Coming up with new ideas and better ways of doing things is the most important way of both improving productivity and, potentially, reducing carbon emissions.

Overall, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 31% since the base year. The business sector is the second largest source (after energy supply) making up nearly a quarter of Welsh emissions. Emissions from this sector have decreased substantially since 1990 (by 32%), but business emissions increased by 7% between 2018 and 2019.

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Line chart showing a significant decrease in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from business in Wales around 1999-2002 and has remained relatively stable in recent years.

Mode of travel

Some forms of travel make a substantial contribution to carbon emissions, but there is no evidence yet of a shift away from cars as the main method of travel.

Prior to the pandemic, and following a sluggish recovery from the recession of 2008, the long-run trend to increased transport use in Wales had resumed, affecting all modes except buses (where use has decreased). Major declines in travel have occurred during the pandemic with UK data suggesting this affected all modes other than walking and cycling. Public transport has been particularly severely affected. 

As in most other parts of the UK outside London, private road transport remains the dominant mode of travel and accounts for the overwhelming majority of commuting journeys in Wales.

In 2019, 4 out of 5 commuters in Wales used a car as their usual method of travel, a small decrease since a peak of 84% in 2013.

There has been a considerable increase in the number of newly registered ultra-low emissions vehicles in Wales in recent years, with the number nearly tripling between 2019 and 2020 to over 3,600.

The proportions of people walking or cycling to work, travelling by rail and using buses have remained relatively stable over the past 15 years (although within public transport, the share of rail has increased and bus has decreased).

Over time, reduced reliance on petrol and diesel vehicles and increased use of ultra-low emission vehicles could contribute to a reduction in emissions.

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Pie chart showing that the vast majority (80%) of people in Wales travelled to work by car in 2019, 10% walked, with the remainder travelling by bus, rail or bicycle.

A resilient Wales

Author: Luned Jones

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

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

The second State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR) was published in December 2020, with the evidence chapters published in March 2021. The report assesses progress against the four aims of the sustainable management of natural resources which, if looked at together, shows how Wales’s use of natural resources is impacting on society, economy and the environment. The report’s overall conclusions are:

  • Wales is using up natural resources at an unsustainable rate and has not met the aim of enhancing and safeguarding natural resources
  • the diversity, extent, condition and connectivity of most Welsh ecosystems is such that overall they have low resilience
  • there is still more to do to make sure that there are healthy places for people, protected from environmental risks
  • Wales is some way from achieving a regenerative economy

From updated national indicators.

  • The latest flood risk assessment shows that around 245,000 Welsh properties are at risk of flooding from seas, rivers and surface water.
  • Average concentrations of air pollutants remained fairly stable between 2019 and 2020.
  • The recycling rate continued to increase with nearly two-thirds of municipal waste reused, recycled or composted in 2019-20. The amount of municipal waste generated decreased by 2%.
  • Installed electrical capacity and installed heat capacity from renewable energy both increased by 5% respectively. The amount of renewable electricity generated is approximately half (51%) of electricity consumed in Wales.

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

Data for some of the national indicators suggest that progress is being made towards the Resilient Wales goal, these include long term improvements to air quality, increased renewable energy capacity and considerable improvements in household recycling rates. However, other indicators show that overall, biological diversity is declining and that most habitat types have seen a reduction in diversity during the past hundred years.

  • The latest comprehensive assessment of Welsh natural resources (SoNaRR) shows that overall, biological diversity is declining.
  • Most habitat types have seen a reduction in diversity over the last 100 years, with the rate of decline increasing from the 1970s onwards.
  • Air quality has improved greatly since the 1970s, but remains a risk to human health.
  • Wales is a world leader in household recycling, but we continue to use up resources faster than they can be replenished.
  • Installed electrical capacity from renewable energy continues to increase but at a slower pace than in recent years.

As well as the national indicators, the SoNaRR 2020 report provides a comprehensive assessment of progress against the four aims of the sustainable management of natural resources.

Biodiversity

The loss of biodiversity is accelerating globally and at unprecedented rates in human history. Although there have been improvements in the status of populations of some species in Wales, SoNaRR 2020 shows that, overall, biodiversity is declining.

The SoNaRR 2020 report confirms that we have continuing declines in many species, with less wildlife, in fewer places.

Species data from the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme shows that 2020 was the third consecutive good year for butterflies in Wales but in the long term 31% of species assessed showed a statistically significant long term decline.

The National Bat Monitoring Programme trends indicate that populations of the bat species monitored are either stable or increasing.

Wintering water birds have also shown long term increases. However, many other species, notably farmland birds, continue to decline and there have been losses of some areas of important habitat.

Work has been commissioned through the Welsh Government ERAMMP (Environment and Rural Affairs Monitoring & Modelling Programme) on developing the national indicator on Status of Biological Diversity in Wales. The focus of this work has been on combining annual estimates into a single indicator of change in the distribution of priority species over time.

An experimental indicator recently developed as part of this work shows that the distribution of species in Wales has declined over the long term, but has been stable more recently. Over  the long-term period (1970 to 2016), the index of distribution change for section 7 priority species in Wales had declined to 87% of its baseline value in 1970 (i.e. a 13% decrease in average distribution size). This is considered a statistically significant decrease. Over this long-term period, 16% of species showed a strong or weak increase and 34% showed a strong or weak decline. Over the short-term period (2011 to 2016), the value of the indicator increased from 85 to 87 and was assessed as stable. Between 2011 and 2016, 35% of species showed a strong or weak increase and 19% showed a strong or weak decline.

The National Survey for Wales found that 54% of people thought there had been a decrease in the variety of species in Wales with a further 29% thinking there has been no change. 63% thought there would be a decrease in future.

Habitat

Most habitat types have seen a reduction in diversity over the last 100 years, with the rate of decline increasing from the 1970s onwards.

In the 2019 Wellbeing of Wales report we reported that 31% of our land was considered semi-natural. This national indicator is used to assess the proportion of our land that has semi-natural, less modified habitats as these are most likely to form healthy and resilient ecosystems. An updated indicator will be available in 2023. During such a short timeframe we would not expect this indicator to change, though there may have been changes to the individual habitats that make up this composite indicator.

The SoNaRR 2016 report found that overall, diversity is declining, as shown by loss of habitats and species. It found that no ecosystem in Wales had all the features needed for resilience. SoNaRR 2020 reports resilience attributes for each ecosystem as high, medium or low to detect the patterns of resilience emerging across the national landscape. The majority are low or medium, such levels compromise both vital ecosystem services and biodiversity recovery, leaving Wales ill-equipped to cope with the effects of the climate and nature emergencies.

Most habitat types have seen a reduction in diversity over the last 100 years, with the rate of decline increasing from the 1970s onwards. Very few Welsh habitats are reported as being in good condition due to a number of pressures. Freshwater habitats, for example, are mainly affected by nutrient enrichment and physical modifications.

Water quality

The quality of our water whether in seas, rivers, streams or the ground is generally improving.

Water is one of Wales’s natural resources which we rely on constantly including for drinking water, the economy, industry, sewage treatment and agriculture.

In 2020-21 Welsh Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy provided around 925 megalitres per day (Ml/d) of potable water to meet demand, with higher demand experienced during peak periods such as during hot dry weather or COVID-19 stay at home restrictions. Private water supplies (not on mains) is estimated as 13.8 Ml/d.

When looking at the national indicator, which combines groundwater and surface water bodies, 40% of all water bodies are at good or better status in 2019. The quality of groundwater bodies was last reported on in 2015 and will next be reported on later this year.

Bathing water quality is monitored at 105 designated sites around Wales’ coast. In 2020, for the third season running, all Welsh bathing waters met the standards set by the Bathing Water Directive, 84 were classified as excellent, 14 achieved good and 7 were classified as the minimum, sufficient, standard.  

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Pie chart showing that the vast majority (80%) of bathing waters in Wales were assessed as excellent in 2020.

Flood risk

The latest flood risk assessment shows that some homes in Wales are at risk of flooding from seas, rivers and surface water.

The latest flood risk assessment data relates to 2019, and was revised in 2021. This shows that nearly 42,000 properties in Wales are at high or medium risk of flooding from rivers and over 60,000 properties at high or medium risk of tidal flooding. This covers both residential and non-residential properties. Of these, 20,000 benefit from river flood defences and 9,600 from tidal flood defences.

Almost 54,000 properties are at a high or medium risk of surface water flooding, caused when rainwater saturates the ground and drainage systems.

Some properties are at risk from more than one type of flooding. It’s not currently possible to produce a total estimate of homes at the different levels of risk from at least one type of flood risk without potentially double (or triple) counting these properties.

The National Survey for Wales found that nearly a half of people (48%) are concerned about flooding in their local area, and 86% are concerned about flooding in other parts of Wales. It appears that there has been an increase in concern since the questions were last asked in 2018-19. The heightened concern about flooding may be due to the extensive flooding in the winter of 2019-20.

Air quality

Air quality has improved greatly since the 1970s, but remains a risk to human health.

The national indicator on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions shows that overall, concentration levels have been declining over the past decade. Following a small increase in 2016, average concentrations have remained at around 9 µg/m3 in recent years. 

Average concentrations of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) decreased to their lowest values in 2017, before increasing slightly in 2018 and 2019.

The highest concentrations of nitrogen dioxide emissions are found in urban areas and near busy roads, reflecting the contribution of traffic and urban activities to poor air quality.

Air pollution has a significant effect on public health There are currently 44 air quality management areas declared in Wales. One of these is due to levels of PM10 particles exceeding the annual mean limit for the protection of human health, and the remainder where levels of NO2 exceed the limit.

Public Health Wales estimates the burden of long-term air pollution exposure to be the equivalent of 1,000 to 1,400 deaths (at typical ages) each year.

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Line chart showing that air quality has improved greatly since the 1970s, though has remained relatively stable in recent years.

Recycling

Wales is a world leader in household recycling, but we continue to use up resources faster than they can be replenished.

The amount of municipal waste generated in Wales has gradually decreased since the early 2000s, with a 2% decrease between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Wales has made major improvements in managing municipal waste over the last decade by increasing the amount sent for recycling, and reducing the amount sent for disposal.

Wales is now recognised as having the highest household recycling rate in the UK, the second highest in Europe and the third highest around the world. The latest data shows that nearly two-thirds (65.1%) of municipal waste was reused, recycled or composted in 2019-20, an increase of two percentage points on a year earlier.

According to SoNaRR 2020, an estimated 8.9 million tonnes of waste was generated in Wales in 2018, excluding waste from mining and quarrying, agriculture, forestry and fishing. Just over half of this waste came from the construction and demolition sector. There was a statistically significant reduction in waste generated by households, industry and commerce compared to 2012, but assessing the trend of total waste generation is difficult in the absence of a regular comprehensive dataset.

Reducing and re-using waste is one way to reduce our consumption of resources. According to 2015 estimates, if everyone on the planet consumed the same as the Welsh average, we’d need 2.5 planets to provide the necessary resources and absorb the waste.

The ecological footprint of a country serves as an indicator of the total environmental burden that a society places on the planet. Wales’s ecological footprint, at 10.05 million global hectares, is roughly five times the size of Wales.

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Bar chart showing the percentage of municipal waste reused/recycled/composted in Wales generally increased from 32.4% in 2012-13 to 65.1% in 2019-20.

Renewable energy generation

The capacity of renewable energy generation projects has risen in the last decade though progress has slowed in recent years.

Around 27% of electricity generated in Wales was from renewable sources in 2019. The amount of renewable electricity generated is the equivalent of slightly more than a half (51%) of electricity consumed in Wales.

At the end of 2019, the installed electrical capacity for renewable energy was 3,372 megawatts (MW). This is 5% higher than the previous year and more than twice the capacity in 2012.

Wind power makes up nearly 59% of renewable electrical capacity.

Wales generates nearly twice the amount of electricity it consumes, making it a net exporter of electricity.

At the end of 2019, the total renewable heat capacity in Wales was 686MW. This is 5% higher than the previous year and more than eleven times the heat capacity in 2012.

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A bar chart showing an overall considerable increase in both renewable electrical and heat capacity in Wales between 2012 and 2019.

A healthier Wales

Author: Rachel Dolman

The goal: A society in which people’s physical and mental wellbeing is maximised and in which choices and behaviours that benefit future health are understood.

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

  • Although life expectancy is higher for women, the proportion of life spent in good health is higher for men (78% for men compared to 75% for women).
  • COVID-19 was the main reason for a rise in the overall number of deaths registered in 2020, and was the overall leading cause of death. Deaths not due to COVID-19 were slightly below the 2015 to 2019 average.
  • Problematic social media use is higher in girls than boys in secondary school, and increases with age.
  • Reported experience of cyber-bullying was higher in girls than boys.
  • A small percentage of adults report following fewer than two healthy lifestyle behaviours. The percentage of children reporting this hasn’t changed.
  • Around one in six pregnant women smoked and over a quarter were obese at their initial assessment. Smoking rates fell by age, from around one in three for pregnant women aged under 20 to one in ten women aged over 35.

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

It is difficult to determine the overall progress being made towards the goal since the 2015 Act, as for many of the indicators data covering a long enough time period or at sufficient frequency is not yet available. Most recent indicator data on healthy life expectancy covers 2010 to 2014, but data from other sources suggests there has been no significant change in healthy life expectancy at birth in recent years. Due to the change in mode of the National Survey for Wales, where indicators data has been collected, comparable trend data is no longer available.

  • Life expectancy had been rising, although at a slower pace in the past decade. However, it has fallen for the most recent period, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Healthy life expectancy continues to be worse for those living in more deprived areas, but there isn't evidence that gap is increasing.
  • Due to the change in the mode of the National Survey for Wales and some of the questions being adapted, it’s not possible to consider trends for healthy lifestyle measures for adults. Prior to the pandemic, between 2016-18 and 2019-20, there was no significant change in the proportion of adults who reported fewer than two healthy lifestyle behaviours.
  • Rates of children smoking and drinking have fallen significantly over the longer term, but stabilised in recent years. The percentage of children following fewer than two of the four healthy lifestyle behaviours remains at 12%.
  • The headline measures of mental wellbeing haven’t been collected since the start of the pandemic. Data collected for children prior to the COVID-19 outbreak showed little change over recent years. Overall life satisfaction levels for adults had deteriorated slightly compared to previous years.
  • The proportion of babies born with a low birth weight has increased in recent years, following the lowest figures in 2014 and 2015.

Life expectancy

Life expectancy had been rising, although at a slower pace in the past decade. However, it has fallen for the most recent period, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Life expectancy at birth was 82.1 years for women and 78.3 years for men for 2018-20. This was a slight reduction for both males and females, following higher death rates in 2020 associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This follows a slowdown in life expectancy improvements since around 2011 following many years of increases prior to this.

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Line chart showing increases in life expectancy for males and females have stalled in recent years. However, it has fallen for the most recent period, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inequalities in life expectancy and mortality

Inequalities in life expectancy and mortality remain wide.

Recent analysis (based on 2017 to 2019) shows that the gap in healthy life expectancy (as measured by the Slope Index of Inequality) between the most and least deprived has remained stable, 17.0 years for males and 18.3 years for females.

The life expectancy gap is much narrower at 9.0 years for males and 7.4 years for females. This is because those living in more deprived areas spend a much greater proportion of their lives in ill-health. The gap between the most and least deprived has remained stable.

In 2019, the proportion of total deaths that were avoidable continued to be substantially larger in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived areas, with avoidable deaths accounting for 39.4% of all male deaths in the most deprived areas compared with 18.9% in the least deprived areas. For females the equivalent figures were 27.6% in the most deprived areas and 12.4% in the least deprived areas.

Most recent indicator data on healthy life expectancy covers 2010 to 2014. Data from other sources for 2017 to 2019 suggest there was no significant change in healthy life expectancy at birth for males or females since 2014 to 2016.

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Line chart showing gap in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy for males and females has remained fairly steady between 2011-2013 and 2017-2019.

Causes of deaths

COVID-19 led to an increase in the number of deaths in 2020, with deaths from other causes being below average.

COVID-19 was the main reason for a rise in the overall number of deaths registered in 2020, and was the overall leading cause of death. Deaths not due to COVID-19 were slightly below the 2015 to 2019 average.

The next highest number of deaths were from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (with above average deaths) and ischaemic heart disease (with below average deaths). There were fewer deaths than expected from influenza and pneumonia, which is likely to be due in part to social distancing reducing the spread.

The age-standardised mortality rate due to COVID-19 for the 14 months March 2020 to April 2021 in the most deprived areas was almost twice the mortality rate in the least deprived areas. Whilst a similar pattern is seen for deaths from all causes, the difference for deaths due to COVID-19 is greater.

Rates for drug-related deaths are at their lowest since 2014, however it’s possible that death registration delays are affecting the latest figures. 2019 registrations showed suicide rates remained stable overall but there was a small decrease for women, returning to the rate observed in 2017. The latest available data shows that suicide rates across England and Wales combined did not increase during the early stages of the pandemic. Suicide rates were lower between April and July 2020 (the first wave of COVID-19 in England and Wales) when compared with the same period in previous years.

Provisional data for 2020 suggests there may be an increase in number of alcohol related deaths, although the data doesn’t tell us whether there has been an increase in the rate.

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Dumbbell chart showing top 10 causes of death in 2020, and comparisons with the 2015-19 average.

Low birth weight babies

The percentage of low birth weight babies has seen a small increase in recent years.

There has been a slight increase in the proportion of babies born with a low birth weight in recent years, with 2020 being the highest on record. This follows the lowest figures on record in 2014 and 2015.

Previous analysis has shown the proportion increases with deprivation, with 7.4% in the most deprived areas born with a low birth rate in 2017 compared to 3.9% in the least deprived.

Around one in six (17%) pregnant women smoked and over one quarter (29%) were obese at their initial assessment.

Smoking rates for pregnant women fall with age from around one in three women aged under 20 to one in ten women aged over 35.

The number of births rose between 2001 and 2012 but has fallen since. The fertility rate in Wales is the lowest on record and remains lower than England.

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Line chart showing an increase in percentage of live singleton births with a birth weight of under 2,500g compared with 2005.

Healthy lifestyle behaviours

A small percentage of adults follow fewer than 2 healthy lifestyle behaviours.

The National Survey for Wales 2020-21 was adapted due to the pandemic, with a change in the mode of the survey and changes to some questions compared with previous years. As these topics can be sensitive to such changes it is not possible to compare the results with data from previous years. The data presented here is for quarter 4 (January to March) of 2020-21:

  • smoking rates were 14%
  • 17% of adults drank above weekly guidelines
  • 31% of adults (16+) ate the recommended portions of five fruit or vegetables a day in 2020-21
  • around 7% of adults reported following fewer than 2 healthy lifestyle behaviours

Previous trends showed there was no significant change in the proportion of adults who reported fewer than two healthy lifestyle behaviours between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

Smoking and drinking rates for children fell sharply between 2002 and 2014, but have been at similar levels in recent years. The percentage of children who follow fewer than two healthy lifestyle behaviours hasn’t changed this year (12%).

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Line chart showing both the percentage of children who drink at least weekly and who smoke at least once a week, between 1986 and 2020.

Physical activity

Physical activity guidelines are not met by many of us.

51% of adults meet the physical activity guidelines. Due to the change in the National Survey for Wales, the most recent results cannot be compared with results from previous surveys. Previous trends showed there was no significant change in physical activity levels between 2016-17 and 2019-20.

Physical activity levels decline in secondary school. 23% of those in year 7 met the guidelines for children compared to 11% in year 11.

Just over a third of children aged 11 to 16 walked or cycled to school, with those from more affluent families more likely to walk or cycle.

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Bar chart showing percentage of children in year groups 7 to 11 meeting recommended physical activity guidelines and also percentage of adults meeting guidelines, broken down by age group. For adults and children the percentage decreases with age.

Mental health and wellbeing

Throughout the pandemic people have been worried about their mental health and wellbeing.

Due to the pandemic, the national indicator on mental wellbeing (as measured by the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale for adults) hasn’t been updated as planned this year. The most recent data for 2018-19 showed a slight increase in mental wellbeing compared with 2016-17, but COVID-19 and the measures deployed to control it are likely to have had an adverse effect on mental wellbeing.

Public Health Wales’ engagement surveys undertaken throughout the pandemic have shown that people are worried about mental health and around a third of adults have reported that their mental health is worse than before the pandemic. Worry about mental health and wellbeing was greater in residents of more deprived communities, females and younger age groups.

Average life satisfaction had been increasing since 2011-12, with slight reductions in average anxiety levels. However, in the most recent data collected before the coronavirus pandemic, there was a slight deterioration reported in levels of both life satisfaction and anxiety.

Analysis for the UK has highlighted that those in employment, married or who have good health had higher levels of life satisfaction.

National indicator data for children aged 10 to 15, collected prior to the pandemic, shows there has been little change in the mean strength and difficulties questionnaire score. Mental wellbeing and life satisfaction in children aged 11 to 16 reduces with age, and reduces more for girls than boys.

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Line charts showing little change in average scores for life satisfaction, feeling worthwile, feeling happy and feeling anxious from 2012 to 2020.

Hazardous housing

Hazardous housing conditions have improved in the last 10 years.

A range of factors are important to everyone's health. For example employment, air pollution and housing all impact on overall health outcomes.

Housing conditions in Wales have improved over the last 10 years, reducing the potential risk to the health of occupants. Social housing dwellings that are compliant with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard continues to increase, with 99% of dwellings compliant (including acceptable fails).

The most recent Welsh Housing Conditions Survey showed that 82% of dwellings were free from the most serious (category 1) hazards in 2017-18, compared with 71% in 2008. There were improvements in all tenures.

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Bar chart showing registered social landlord had the highest percentage of dwellings meeting the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

Problematic social media use

Problematic social media use and cyber-bullying affects girls more than boys.

Data from 2019/20 shows that on average, problematic social media use increased with age, and was higher in girls than boys. 

A fairly small proportion of adolescents reported taking part in cyber-bullying (around one in ten). However, a larger proportion reported experiencing cyber-bullying (almost one in five). Reported experience of being a victim of cyber-bullying differed little by age, but girls were more likely than boys to have reported being cyberbullied.

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Bar chart showing percentage of children with problematic social media use, broken down by girls and boys and also age group.

A more equal Wales

Author: Sue Leake

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

In 2002 the Welsh Government adopted the Social Model of Disability. This model sets out a different way to view disability, rather than defining people as disabled by their impairment (i.e. the medical model of disability), people with impairments are considered to be disabled by physical, attitudinal and organisational barriers created by society.

The data reported here are derived from a range of sources reflecting the most reliable, recent data are available. Many of these sources use definitions of disability which are informed by the medical model in line with the Equality Act 2010 definition. In the Equality Act a disability means a physical or a mental condition which has a substantial and long-term impact on your ability to do normal day to day activities.

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on many different population groups, with older people, men and people in ethnic minority groups more at risk of becoming seriously ill with the disease. It has also highlighted a range of structural inequalities that existed prior to the pandemic.

The more indirect impact of socio-economic harms are more likely to be felt by groups that are already disadvantaged. This includes young people, women, disabled people and ethnic minority groups.

Around 230,000 people were employed in industries in Wales in 2019 that were told to close in early 2020, representing around 16% of the total workforce. Women, young people and employees from a minority ethnic background are more likely to be employed in those industries.

Socio-economic disadvantage

  • Nearly a quarter of all people in Wales (23%) were living in relative income poverty (after housing costs) between 2017 and 2020. Children are the most likely to be in relative poverty (31% of children compared to 18% of pensioners).
  • Nearly half (49%) of single parents were in material deprivation in 2019-20 and 1% of households said they had received food from a food bank during 2020-21.
  • Although general mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, between March and the end of July 2020 the mortality rate involving COVID-19 in the most deprived areas in Wales was nearly twice as high as that in the least deprived areas.

Gender

  • Women were more likely to be classed as critical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic than men. 40% of all women in employment in Wales are critical workers, compared to 28% of men. Women are also more likely to be working in industries told to close in the early stage of the pandemic (18% of all women in employment compared to 14% of men).
  • Girls continue to achieve better educational outcomes at GCSE. In summer 2020, girls were awarded more grades at A*, A and B than boys. The largest grade disparity was at the A* and A grade: girls were awarded 4.6 and 4.8 percentage points, respectively, more than boys.
  • The gender pay gap fell in April 2020 to 4.3%, and evidence from the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings and the Labour Force Survey suggests that COVID-19 factors had not yet had a notable impact on the gender pay gap in the UK.
  • In 2019-20, 43% of new public appointments and 46% of re-appointments made by the Welsh Government were to females.

Age

  • Amongst those aged 16-64, the employment rate remains highest among those aged 25 to 49, and lowest in the 50+ age group.
  • Whilst the 50 to 54 year old age group makes up the largest share of those considered to be critical workers during COVID-19 at 13.5%, employees under the age of 25 were more likely to work in industries which had to close in the early stages of the pandemic. Over a quarter (27%) of employees in those industries were aged under 25.

Ethnicity

  • 5.2% of the Welsh population describe themselves as Black, Asian or other minority ethnic group. The second largest ethnic group (after White) is Asian, at 2.4% of the population (2017-19).
  • The ethnicity pay gap in Wales is 1.4%. This means that employees from ethnic minority groups earned, on average, 1.4% less per hour than White British employees in 2019, although evidence from across England and Wales indicates there are large differences among different ethnic minorities. 
  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees were more likely to work in industries told to close in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic (20% of ethnic minority employees compared to 15% of White employees). Black, Asian and minority ethnic people were also disproportionately represented in a number of occupations which could be considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19, such as healthcare and social care workers, chefs and taxi drivers.
  • A high proportion of employees from some ethnic minority communities worked as critical workers during the pandemic. More than half of Bangladeshi employees and half of Black, African, Caribbean and Black British employees work in critical occupations.
  • Children from some ethnic groups continue to achieve better on average in school compared to others, with a greater proportion of GCSE entries by Black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils awarded A*, A and B grades in Summer 2020 than White pupils.
  • In 2019-20 6% of new public appointments and 18% of re-appointments made by the Welsh Government were to individuals from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background.
  • There was a 1.6% decrease in reported race hate crimes between 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • In the 2021 Senedd Cymru elections, three members from an ethnic minority background were elected (5% of all Members elected).

Religion

  • Latest estimates (2017-2019) show that nearly half the population (47.9%) identify as Christian, whilst 47.3% said they had no religion.
  • Over 55,000 people (1.8% of the population) identified as Muslim. Over two-thirds of the Muslim population live in South East Wales.

Sexual orientation

  • Latest estimates show that 2.9% of the Welsh population identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
  • There were 367 same-sex marriages in 2017, whilst civil partnerships have reduced substantially to around 32 a year since 2014.
  • There were 763 hate crimes recorded by police in which sexual orientation was considered the motivating factor in 2019-20, though Stonewall Cymru research suggests that many such incidents are not reported to the police.

Disability

  • The employment rate among disabled adults aged 16 to 64 (46.7% in the year ending March 2021) remains lower than among those who are not disabled.
  • The proportion of people with a limiting long-standing illness or disability living in a household in material deprivation remained at 21% in 2019-20, but is twice as high as for those who are not disabled (9%).
  • The disability pay gap in Wales was 9.9% in 2018. This means that disabled people in Wales earned, on average, 9.9% less per hour than non-disabled people.
  • A slightly higher proportion of employed disabled people work in industries told to close in the early stage of the pandemic compared to non-disabled employees (17% compared to 15%).
  • One third of employed disabled people in Wales (33.2%) were employed in occupations which could be considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19, compared to 30.6% of employed non-disabled people. For employed disabled women this rose to 41% employed in such occupations. 

Marital status

  • It remains true that those who are married are less likely to be in material deprivation than those who are separated or divorced.
  • In 2020-21, during the COVID-19 pandemic, those who were single, separated or divorced were more likely to report loneliness than those who were married, however, whatever their marital status, people were more likely to say they ‘sometimes felt lonely’ than during 2019-20.

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

Some inequalities are showing little sign of improvement in the last 5 years and some of those already disadvantaged are likely to have been more impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However the gender pay gap has been narrowing and there are signs of improved diversity in public appointments. 

  • The percentage of people living in relative income poverty has been relatively stable in Wales for over 15 years.
  • There remains a gap in educational outcomes of children in school eligible for free school meals and those who are not. The gap at GCSE has widened in the last 5 years, with data (up to 2019) indicating that at earlier stages of school the gap widens as pupils get older.
  • The gender pay gap has generally been narrowing. But fewer women than men are employed in work that earns more than two-thirds of the UK average.
  • Life satisfaction scores dip for those in between 45 and 64 years of age, and those aged 16 to 24 are now more likely to report being lonely than those 65 and over.
  • Children from some ethnic minority groups continue to achieve better on average in school compared to White pupils, with the gap at GCSE widening in 2019/20.
  • Despite some improvement, the Black, Asian and minority ethnic population are still under-represented in local political life but the proportion of public appointments made by the Welsh Government to those with an ethnic minority background has risen in recent years.
  • Race is still judged to be a motivating factor in nearly two-thirds of all hate crime, despite a slight fall in recorded race hate crimes in 2019-20.
  • Those who are divorced, separated or never married are still more likely to struggle financially, with single parent households most likely to be in material deprivation.
  • The proportion of the Welsh population identifying themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual has been increasing in recent years (now at 2.9% of the population).
  • Since 2014, when same sex marriages became legal, the number of same sex marriages has increased (to 367 in 2017) whilst the number of civil partnerships formed has reduced substantially to around 32 partnerships annually.
  • Hate crimes recorded by police in which sexual orientation was considered the motivating factor have continued to increase (now almost one fifth of all recorded hate crimes) though Stonewall Cymru research suggests that many such incidents are not reported to the police.
  • Employment rates for disabled people were rising but decreased to a rate similar to December 2018 during the year ending March 2021. The employment rate among disabled adults (16 to 64) remains lower than among those who are not disabled.
  • A disability pay gap remains and households including someone who is disabled are still more likely to struggle financially.
  • In general, educational outcomes for children with special educational needs have been improving.

Socio-economic disadvantage

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, overall poverty rates had remained relatively stable in Wales for over 15 years and children remained the age group most likely to be in relative income poverty.

Between 2017-18 and 2019-20, nearly a quarter of the population (23%) were living in relative income poverty after paying their housing costs.

Children are the population group most likely to be in relative income poverty (see chart 1.8 earlier in the report). The most recent figures show that this was the case for 31% of children in Wales compared to 18% of pensioners.

In 2019-20, 13% of adults were classed as materially deprived (that is, unable to afford certain things such as keeping the house warm enough, make regular savings, or have a holiday once a year). This is the case for a higher percentage of females (15%) relative to males (11%).

Single parent households are more likely to be materially deprived than other types of households. Nearly half (49%) of single parents were materially deprived in 2019-20.

1% of households in 2020-21 said they had received food from a food bank in the last 12 months with a further 2% saying they hadn’t but had wanted to. An estimated 155,000 households (12% of households) were living in fuel poverty in 2018.

Healthy life expectancy continues to be worse for those living in more deprived areas, but there isn't evidence that the gap is increasing.

There remains a gap in educational outcomes of children in school eligible for free school meals and those who are not. The gap at GCSE has widened in the last five years, with data (up to 2019) indicating that at earlier stages of school the gap widens as pupils get older.

At GCSE level, the gap between pupils not eligible for free school meals (FSM) and pupils eligible for FSM awarded GCSE grades A* to A widened slightly between 2015/16 and 2018/19, from 14.6 percentage points in 2015/16 to 14.8 percentage points in 2018/19. The gap at A* to A has widened further in 2019/20 to 17.8 percentage points.

However, in 2019/20 the gap between pupils not eligible for FSM and pupils eligible for FSM awarded grades A* to C narrowed to 24.7 percentage points in 2019/20 having increased between 2015/16 and 2018/19 from 24.9 to 28.1 percentage points.

Gender

Girls continue to achieve better educational outcomes at GCSE and girls are more likely to stay on in education beyond age 16. Whilst the gender pay gap decreased in 2020, employment rates remain lower for women than men.

Life expectancy is still longer for women than for men but the proportion of life spent in good health is higher for men.

Due to the pandemic, the national indicator on mental wellbeing (as measured by the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale for adults) hasn’t been updated as planned this year. The most recent data, for 2018-19, showed on average, male adolescents had higher mental wellbeing scores and were more satisfied with their lives than female adolescents, with the gap widening as they reach age 16. This continues into adulthood with average mental wellbeing scores for men consistently higher than women across all age groups, though suicide rates remain higher for men than women.

Public Health Wales’ engagement surveys undertaken throughout the pandemic have shown that people are worried about mental health and around a third of adults have reported that their mental health is worse than before the pandemic. Worry about mental health and wellbeing was greater in residents of more deprived communities, females and younger age groups.  

In education, from Foundation Phase (up to 7 years old) to Key Stage 3 (14 year olds), a higher proportion of girls than boys achieve the expected outcomes. The gap initially narrows up to Key Stage 2 but then grows as pupils get older.

Girls continue to achieve better educational outcomes at GCSE. In summer 2020, girls were awarded more grades at A*, A and B than boys. The largest grade disparity was at the A* and A grade: girls were awarded 4.6 and 4.8 percentage points, respectively, more than boys

A higher proportion of females aged 16 to 18 than males remain in full-time education. This is also the case for those aged 19 to 24 years old.

Employment rates in Wales are lower for women than for men, 70.2% for women and 74.2% for men in the year ending March 2021. Economic inactivity rates (excluding students) are higher for women (23.1%) than men over this period (18.0%).

The gender pay gap, based on median full-time hourly earnings (excluding overtime), stood at 4.3% in 2020, down from 6.2% in 2019. However, for part-time employees in Wales, women were paid 1.5% more on average than men. For all employees, the gender pay gap stood at 11.5% in 2020. This is higher than for each of full-time employees and part-time employees, because women fill more part-time jobs, which in comparison with full-time jobs have lower hourly median pay. Of the 11 UK countries and regions where men earn more than women (full-time employees), Wales has the second smallest pay gap.

Women are less likely to say they feel safe in their community, despite men being somewhat more likely to be victims of violent crime than women. During January to March 2021, 51% of women said they felt safe compared to 84% of men. Whilst results from previous years show that women feel less safe than men, the difference observed in these latest results may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic at that time when the country was in Alert level 4 with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

In 2019-20, 43% of new public appointments and 46% of public re-appointments made by the Welsh Government were to females. These proportions of female public appointments were higher in the previous couple of years.

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Line chart showing the employment rate for 16-64 year olds by sex. Despite some fluctuations, both sexes have experienced a gradual increase in employment rate between 2005 and 2021. Although  females have consistently lower rates than males  the gap has narrowed.

Age

Our satisfaction with life tends to be higher earlier in life and in the older age groups. Relative income poverty is now higher in the working population than in pensioner households.

Subjective wellbeing tends to be higher earlier in life and in the older age groups, dipping in the 25 to 64 age group. In 2019-20 the highest average life satisfaction scores are for the 65 to 74 age group (8.1) and for the 75 and over group (8.0), and the lowest are for those aged 45 to 64 (7.6). The pattern was similar in 2020-21 but life satisfaction scores for each age group were a bit lower, ranging from 7.4 (for ages 45 to 64) to 7.7 (for those aged 65 year of over).

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Bar chart showing that in 2020-21, over 65 year olds reported the highest life satisfaction while 45- 64 year olds report the lowest out of all the age groups.

In recent years a higher proportion of the working-age population has been in relative poverty than pensioner households.

The employment rate is highest in the 25 to 49 age group whilst the employment rate for those aged 65 and over, which previously saw an increase, has been decreasing since 2019. It is too soon to assess the effects of the pandemic on young people, though early evidence indicates that they have been disproportionately affected by the socio-economic consequences. 

Younger age groups are generally at higher risk of being victims of crime (including violent crime), with the 16 to 24 year age group experiencing the highest rates in most crime categories and those aged over 75 years experiencing the lowest rates of crime in Wales during the last 12 months up to March 2020.

In 2019-20, 56% of new public appointments and re-appointments made by the Welsh Government were to people aged 55 or over, reflecting the appointment of some younger people to the boards of public bodies in recent years.

Older people (aged 65 and over) are more likely to have a strong sense of community compared with younger age groups, whilst 90% of those aged 65 and over are satisfied with their local area as a place to live.

Ethnicity

Children from some ethnic groups (For example, Chinese, Asian and people with a mixed ethnic background) tend to achieve better on average in school compared to others. In general, the ethnic minority population are now better represented in public appointments.

94.8% of the population (in 2017 to 2019) described their ethnic group as White, varying by region from 97.3% of the population in North Wales to 93.3% in South East Wales.

5.2% of the Welsh population describe themselves as Black, Asian or minority ethnic group. The second largest ethnic group (after White) is Asian, at 2.4% of the population (2017-19).

In summer 2020 exams at GCSE, a greater percentage of all entries by Black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils were awarded A*, A and B grades than White pupils.

The gap between Black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils and White pupils awarded grades A* to A widened between 2015/16 and 2019/20, from 4.5 to 6.2 percentage points. For pupils awarded grades A* to C, the gap between Black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils and White pupils widened between 2015/16 and 2017/18 reaching a high of 4.1 percentage points before narrowing over the last two years to 2.5 percentage points in 2019/20.

A relatively high proportion of the Welsh ethnic minority population enrol in higher education in Wales. 8.8% of Welsh student enrolments at higher education institutions in Wales in 2019/20 were from an ethnic minority group.

In 2019-20, 6% of new public appointments and 18% of re-appointments made by the Welsh Government were to individuals from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic minority background. Public appointments from these ethnic minority communities have been increasing. In 2013-14 these figures were 4.3% of new appointments and 2.0% of re-appointments.

Employment rates and average pay remain lower for Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and people in these groups are more likely to be in relative income poverty.

Employment rates (year ending March 2021) among the Welsh population aged 16 to 64 are highest among individuals from a White ethnic background and for those in the ‘other ethnicity group’ category (both 73%), with employment rates lowest amongst individuals with a Black ethnicity (57%). The equivalent rates among individuals from an Asian background and people with a mixed ethnic background are, 65% and 64%, respectively.

Employment rates for ethnic groups differ for males and females, with the biggest gap in employment rates seen in the Asian ethnic group (males 79% compared to females 54%).

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Bar chart showing employment rates for those aged between 16 and 64 by sex for 5 broad ethnic groups for the period 2017 to 2019. The employment rate is higher for males than it is for females for every broad ethnic group (White, Black, Asian, Mixed/multiple ethnic group and Other ethnic group).

The pay gap between White employees and Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees has narrowed to its smallest level since 2012 in England and Wales. The ethnicity pay gap differs across region and in 2019 is largest in London (23.8%) and smallest in Wales (1.4%), though there is some volatility in the ethnicity pay gap for Wales. Evidence from across England and Wales shows  that most of the minority ethnic groups analysed continue to earn less than White British employees but, in 2019, those in the Chinese, White Irish, White and Asian, and Indian ethnic groups all earned higher hourly pay than White British employees.

Being part of an ethnic minority group is linked with a greater likelihood of relative income poverty. For the period 2015-16 to 2019-20 there was a 29% likelihood of people whose head of household comes from an ethnic minority group living in relative income poverty. This compares to a 24% likelihood for those whose head of household comes from a White ethnic group. During the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • analysis showed that 20% of all employees of a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background worked in industries told to close when restrictions were in place, compared to 15% of white employees
  • whilst the proportion of critical workers from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background was only slightly higher than the proportion of all in employment, the available data indicates that this varies for different ethnic group; more than half of employees of Bangladeshi ethnicity are critical workers, and half of Black, African, Caribbean and Black British employees work in critical occupations
  • analysis showed that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in Wales are disproportionately represented in a number of occupations which could be considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19, such as healthcare and social care workers, chefs and taxi drivers
  • despite a slight fall (by 1.6%) in reported race hate crimes in 2019-20, race was still judged to be a motivating factor in nearly two-thirds of all hate crimes recorded in Wales
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Line chart showing that total hate crime offences reported in Wales has increased every year for the past five years, from just under 2,300 offences in 2014-15 to just over 4,000 in 2019-20, though there was a slowdown in the increase in the latest year.

Religion

Christianity remains the largest religion in Wales but whilst 4% of the population have another religion many people now say they have no religion.

Christianity is still the largest religion in Wales despite the proportion of the population saying they are Christian falling in the last decade, whilst the number who say they have no religion or a religion other than Christianity is rising. In 2017-2019 nearly half of the population of Wales identified as Christian (47.9%), whereas 47.3% of the population stated they had no religion.

Nearly 55,500 people (1.8% of the population) identified as Muslim. Over two-thirds (69%) of the Muslim population lived in South East Wales.

A higher proportion of women than men identified as having a religion (56.5% compared with 48.3%) and the proportion of people identifying as having a religion increased by age group. This contrasts with the proportion of people stating they had no religion which notably decreased as age increased. The Muslim population has a younger age profile than most other religions in Wales.

Religion was judged to be a motivating factor in 5% of hate crimes recorded Wales in 2019-20. A total of 199 religious based hate crimes were recorded by police in Wales in 2019-20, similar to the number recorded in 2018-19 (motivating factor in 206 crimes).

Employment rates for those who identify as Christian or with no religion are similar. Amongst Muslims the employment rate for females (38% in year ending March 2021) is around half of that for males (78%).

Sexual orientation

The numbers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, or who chose not to identify as straight are rising, with same-sex marriages now more common than civil partnerships.

In 2019, 94.4% of the population of Wales identified as heterosexual, with 2.9% identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual. A higher proportion of the 16 to 45 years age group identify as gay/lesbian or bisexual than other age groups.

Over the last five years, the proportion of the Welsh population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual has increased from 1.6% to 2.9%.

Since 2014, when same-sex marriages became legal, the number of same-sex marriages has increased (to 367 in 2017) whilst the number of civil partnerships formed has reduced substantially (34 partnerships in 2019).

In 2019-20 a lower proportion of adults who identified as heterosexual were in material deprivation (12%) compared with those who did not identify as heterosexual (22%).

In 2019-20, 763 hate crimes were recorded by police in Wales in which sexual orientation was considered the motivating factor (up from 670 in 2017-18). Sexual orientation was judged to be a motivating factor in just under one fifth of all hate crimes recorded in Wales in 2019-20.

Stonewall Cymru research within the LGBT community in 2017 indicates that almost one in four LGBT people (23%) say they have experienced a hate crime or incident due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months and that many of them did not report the incident to the police.

Disability

In general, outcomes for children with special educational needs are improving, and whilst employment rates for disabled people are rising a disability pay gap remains and households including someone who is disabled are still more likely to struggle financially

National Survey for Wales data (2019-20) demonstrates that life satisfaction was generally lower for people with a limiting long-standing illness or disability (their mean score was 6.9) than for those without (7.5).

The educational outcomes of pupils with special educational needs has improved in recent years. In 2019/20, 98% of GCSE entries by pupils in year 11 with a special educational need were awarded a grade at A* to G, the highest percentage of the last 5 years. The percentage of A*, A and B grades awarded were also at their highest for 5 years.

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Line chart showing the percentage of Year 11 pupils with a statement of special educational needs achieving grades A*to G at Key Stage 4 between 2015-16 and 2019-20. The percentage rose sharply to 97.8 per cent in 2019-20 following a fall in the previous four years.

Of the working-age population, disabled people (15.2%) are more likely to have no qualifications than non-disabled people (4.9%) and are less likely to hold qualifications above level 2.

In the latest period (2017-18 to 2019-20), 38% of children who lived in a household where there was someone who was disabled were in relative income poverty compared with 26% in households where no-one was disabled. Similarly, 31% of working-age adults who lived in a household where there was someone who was disabled were in relative income poverty compared with 18% of those who lived in a household where no-one was disabled.

As in previous years, in 2019-20, one in five people with a limiting long-standing illness or disability lived in a household in material deprivation compared with one in ten of those who were not disabled.

For the year ending 31 March 2021 the employment rate among disabled people aged 16-64 in Wales was 46.7% whilst the rate for people who are not disabled was 79.6%.The disability employment gap for 2021, of 32.9 percentage points, is reduced compared to 5 years ago when it was 35.5 percentage points. The disability pay gap in Wales was 9.9% in 2018. This means that disabled people in Wales earned, on average 9.9% less per hour than non-disabled people. The pay gap in Wales was smaller than for the UK as a whole (12.2%).

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Bar chart showing the disability employment rate gap each year from 2016 to 2021. It shows that the disability employment gap for 2021, which is 32.9 percentage points, has reduced from 35.5 percentage points in 2016 with some fluctuations in between.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher proportion of employed disabled people worked in industries told to close whilst restrictions were in place compared to non-disabled employees (16.6% compared to 14.7%). One third of employed disabled people in Wales (33.2%) were employed in occupations which could be considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19, compared to 30.7% of employed non-disabled people. For employed disabled women this rose to 41% employed in such occupations. 

In 2019-20, 5% of new public appointments and re-appointments made by the Welsh Government were to individuals who declared a disability.

Disability was judged to be a motivating factor in 11% of hate crimes recorded in Wales in 2019-20, slightly higher than in 2017-18 at 9%.

Marital status

Being married is associated with higher satisfaction with life and a lower likelihood of being materially deprived. Single parent households continue to face challenges, being more likely to be materially deprived than other types of households.

There were a total of 13,197 marriages in Wales in 2017. Of these 12,830 (97.2%) were among opposite-sex couples, with 367 (2.8%) marriages involving same-sex couples.

The number of civil partnerships formed in 2019 remains low (34 partnerships) compared to the levels in 2013.

In 2019-20, 20% of divorced adults and 36% of those who are separated (but still legally married) were in material deprivation compared with 8% of those who were married and 8% who were widowed. Nearly half (49%) of those who are single parents were materially deprived.

National Survey for Wales results for 2019-20 confirmed that a higher proportion of the married population report a high satisfaction with life, feeling that the things they do in life are worthwhile and high levels of happiness compared to those that have never married, the separated, divorced or widowed. In general, reported life satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic was lower than in 2019-20, though the fall was less clear for those who were separated or divorced.

In 2020-21, during the COVID-19 pandemic, those who were single, separated or divorced were more likely to report loneliness than those who were married, however whatever their marital status, people were more likely to say they sometimes felt lonely than during 2019-20.

Single parent households and single pensioner households were the households least likely to say they feel safe in their communities after dark in 2020-21.

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Bar chart showing life satisfaction by marital status in 2020-21 on a scale of 0-10. Married reported the highest life satisfaction ((7.7)  while people  who were separated but still legally married  reported the lowest (7.0).

The latest detailed data on characteristics of those threatened with homelessness (2018-19) show that relationship breakdown is one of the key causes cited for households being threatened with homelessness. Of those judged to be homeless and in priority need, just over half are single person households and a third are lone parents with dependent children

Of those aged between 16 and 64, those who were married or in a civil partnership had the highest employment rates (80%) compared to those who were separated or divorced (72%), single (65%) or widowed (52%). Employment rates are generally lower for women than for men and this is particularly the case for women who are married or in a civil partnership. The employment rate for married men being 86% compared to 75% for married women in the year ending March 2021.

A Wales of cohesive communities

Author: Dr Steven Marshall

The goal: Attractive, viable, safe and well-connected communities.

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

  • The pandemic has had widespread effects on the lives of people in Wales as elsewhere which has affected the indicators in the chapter in different ways with some showing improvement while others saw a decline. It will not be clear until future years if these changes are short term changes or a sustained or partly sustained change.
  • The measure relating to community cohesion has increased since 2018-19, from just over 50% to nearly 70% agreeing that they belong in their area that people get along well and treat each other with respect. The proportion of people feeling safe in different situations is 68% which is down slightly on 2018-19.
  • There has been an increase in people feeling that they can influence decisions in their local area (26%) which appears to reverse a downward trend seen in the previous two sets of results.
  • There was no change in satisfaction with the local area although there was an increase in the percentage of people satisfied with their ability to get to/access facilities and services.
  • During 2019-20 there was a fall in the number of households that had approached their local authority for support as they were threatened with homelessness, with over two-thirds of these successfully prevented from being homeless. During the COVID-19 pandemic many households who were previously homeless have been supported into emergency temporary accommodation.

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

Many of the indicators for cohesive communities are still relatively recent measures collected in the National Survey for Wales and it is therefore difficult to comment confidently on changes over time. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes in the way the National Survey had to be collected, also affect comparability with earlier data.

  • Most of the indicators within this goal have had detailed analysis carried out to determine the factors that are linked with differences in the level of the indicator.
  • The indicators in this chapter are most commonly associated with age and disability or health in terms of equality dimensions. Where there is an association, being older or in good health are linked with more positive values of the indicator. Long term progress is therefore linked with improvements in health and deprivation or poverty.
  • All of the indicators are associated with at least one measure to do with socio-economic status or deprivation. The actual measures differ across the indicators but in each case being better off is associated with more positive values of the indicator. The one exception is that being economically inactive is linked with volunteering more, but this is mainly due to the fact that retired people are more likely to volunteer.
  • There are connections between the different measures of cohesive communities, particularly in the case of loneliness which has a statistically significant link with four other measures. The associations can easily work in either direction, for example, lonely people may be less likely to volunteer but also volunteering may help to reduce loneliness. Other than loneliness, each of the indicators has a link with geographic area, even after controlling for other factors. However, it is not always the same parts of Wales.
  • People feel that crime has increased a lot in recent years, although the picture from recorded crime is more mixed. During the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a decrease in most types of crimes including   violent crimes recorded but fraud and computer misuse offences have been rising.
  • It is not yet clear if there are any sustained behaviour changes as a result of the pandemic that may impact on the long term progress towards the goal.

Community cohesion

Over two-thirds of adults agreed with all three measures of community cohesion. This is an increase on recent years.

In 2020-21, 70% of people agreed with all three statements about their local area that make up the national indicator, while 95% agreed with at least one statement.

These figures have been broadly stable since they were first collected in 2012 until the sizeable increase in 2020-21. However, whether the recent increase is a short term effect of the pandemic (with communities coming together locally) or will be sustained or partly sustained will not become clear until data is available for future years.

There is no statistical difference between men and women on either the individual measures or agreeing with all three statements.

There is a clear trend towards increased community cohesion as deprivation in the area falls.

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A bar chart showing the percentage of people agreeing with statements about their local area in 2020-21. 83 per cent agreed with the statement ‘Belong to the local area’, 86 per cent agreed that ‘People in the area from different backgrounds get on well together’ and 84 per cent agreed that ‘People treat each other with respect and consideration’.

Feeling safe after dark

Two thirds of adults feel safe in various situations after dark.

The national indicator is the percentage of people that agreed with four statements about feeling safe after dark: at home, walking in their local area, travelling by public transport or travelling by car. In 2020-21, 68% of people felt safe in all four situations, similar to the 69% in 2016-17.

Data on travelling by car was first collected in 2016-17 but the other measures in the indicator are broadly stable since they were first collected in 2012.

Men feel safer (84%) than women (51%). There is a clear trend towards an increased feeling of safety as deprivation in the area falls, with 76% feeling safe in the least deprived quintile and 54% in the most deprived quintile.

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A bar chart showing the percentage of people agreeing with statements about feeling safe after dark in 2020-21. 97 per cent felt safe at home, 98 per cent felt safe traveling by car, 78 per cent felt safe walking in the local area and 78 per cent felt safe travelling by public transport.

Satisfaction with local area

87% are satisfied with their local area as a place to live and 87% satisfied with their ability to get to or access facilities and services.

Overall, according to the 2020-21 National Survey, 87% of people feel satisfied with their local area as a place to live, similar to the results in 2018-19 and 2016-17.

87% of people were satisfied that they were able to get to or access the services they need, an increase since 2018-19 (83%)

Fewer than 60% of people (in 2018-19) said that municipal services such as community centres, secondary schools, libraries and youth or sports clubs were available in their local area. In contrast, over 80% said public transport links, shops and pubs were all within a 15 to 20 minute walk from their home.

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A bar chart showing the percentage of people satisfied with access to good services and facilities by type of area in 2018-19. The highest satisfaction came from those in ‘Urban (population over 10,000)’ areas where 84 per cent were satisfied and the lowest was in ‘Hamlet & isolated dwellings’ where 65 per cent were satisfied.

Influencing local decisions

More people now feel they can influence local decisions.

In 2020-21, 26% of people felt that they could influence decisions affecting local area.

2020-21 results are similar to those in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and higher than in 2016-17 and 2018-19 which reverses what had appeared to be a gradual decline in recent years.

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Bar chart showing the percentage of people who feel they can influence decisions affecting their local area. In 2020-21, 27 per cent reported they felt they could influence decisions, this compares with 19 per cent in 2018-19. The 2020-21 result is at a similar level to the results in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Volunteering

Just over a quarter of adults volunteer.

Social interaction has been shown to be beneficial to personal wellbeing and volunteering is an aspect of social interaction that has proven positive benefits in terms of both health and wellbeing.

In 2019-20 the National Survey results show that 26% of people in Wales volunteered, the same as in the previous year. People most commonly volunteered for charities and sports clubs.

National Survey results pre-date the pandemic and so do not show any changes in volunteering as a result. However, management information from Volunteering Wales shows that a large number of people registered to volunteer in the early stages of the pandemic, with the total number of registered volunteers since July 2018 increasing from around 11,000 at the start of March 2020 to more than 30,000 at the start of July 2020.

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Bar chart showing the percentage of people volunteering, by type of organisation, in 2019-20. People are most likely to volunteer for charitable organisations (9 per cent), school or young person’s group (6 per cent) or sports clubs (67 per cent).

Loneliness

Younger people are the most likely to feel lonely, although during the pandemic adults aged 45 to 64 felt more lonely than in previous years. Those aged 65 and over still felt the least lonely.

The National Survey collected data using the De Jong Gierveld loneliness scale which covers both emotional and social loneliness.

In 2019-20, based on all six measures, 15% of people in Wales were found to be lonely. Perhaps surprisingly this fell to 13% in 2020-21. However, there is a marked variation in the percentage of people who say they feel lonely in each of the individual measures. In 2019-20, 36% of people said they missed having people around them compared with 71% in 2020-21. Conversely, fewer people felt rejected in 2020-21 and more respondents said they had enough people they felt close to.

Other sources such as the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey have found an increase in some aspects of loneliness during the pandemic.

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Bar chart showing the results for 2019-20 and 2020-21 and the six questions asked to create the measure of loneliness.. The responses to all but one statement show that people were less lonely in 2020-21.

Homelessness

Whilst the homelessness prevention rate remained steady in 2019-20, services for those facing homelessness were transformed during the pandemic with many households being supported into emergency temporary accommodation.

During 2019-20, nearly 10,000 households in Wales were assessed as being threatened with homelessness, a decrease of 7% on 2018-19.

Homelessness was successfully prevented for at least 6 months in 67% of these cases. The successful homelessness prevention rate has remained consistent since 2017-18.

In October 2019 there were 405 people estimated to be sleeping rough across Wales, up 17% (58 persons) on the previous year. In 2019, there were estimated to be 33 deaths amongst homeless people in Wales, compared with 34 in 2018 and 13 in 2017.

Management information captured since March 2020 indicate that from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to the end of June 2021, over 12,400 people who were previously homeless have been supported into emergency temporary accommodation, with the aim to move them into more suitable long-term accommodation. Local authorities have estimated fewer than 100 people sleeping rough across Wales since November 2020.

Crime

Most people don’t experience crime. In the last year police recorded crime has decreased whilst the proportion of the adult population who are victims of crime has remained relatively stable. However reported fraud and computer misuse offences have been rising.  

Latest data on perceptions of crime from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) (2019-20) shows 53% of people in Wales believe crime has risen a lot nationally in recent years similar to previous years. The percentages of those believing crime in their local area has risen a lot are much smaller (15%).

Data from the CSEW (excluding fraud) in 2020-21 shows 10% of adults were victims of crime and 3% were victims of personal crime; similar to levels in 2019-20.

Police recorded crime decreased in 2020-21 (by 11%). This was the case in most offence categories including violent crime, the exceptions being drug offences and public order offences. It is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions introduced as public health measures will have had an impact.

The latest data on violent crime in Wales from the CSEW shows incidence of violent crime in Wales fell to a rate of 18 per 1,000 adults in 2019-20.

Reported fraud and computer misuse offences have risen by 33% in Wales between 2019-20 and 2020-21; to a rate of 6 offences per 1,000 population in Wales.

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Line chart showing the rates of different crimes per 1,000 people from 2002-03 to 2018-19. ‘Violence against the person’ has been increasing since 2012-13, but  theft, criminal damage and arson have decreased since 2002-03.

A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language

Author: Stephanie Howarth

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

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

  • In 2019-20 there was a fall in the share of adults regularly attending or participating in arts, culture or heritage. 71% of adults reported that they did these activities at least three times a year.
  • There was also a fall in arts attendance among children and young people in 2019, down from the record high level recorded the previous year. Arts participation among children also fell slightly.
  • There is no new data this year on the national indicator on sports participation. However research by Sport Wales found that inequalities in sports participation widened during the pandemic.
  • There is a mixed picture in recent data on the number of Welsh speakers. The Annual Population Survey showed an increase in the percentage of people who speak Welsh in 2020-21, whilst the National Survey for Wales showed a large fall in non-fluent Welsh speakers in 2019-20 before returning to more usual levels soon after.
  • Using the national indicator on the use of the Welsh language, 10% of people aged three or older spoke Welsh daily in 2019-20. The school census shows that the percentage of children able to speak Welsh at home in 2020/21 has remained at a similar level to previous years (around 11%).
  • The conditions of 178 monuments were assessed in 2020-21. 52% were found to be stable or improved and 48% worsened, of which 21% were considered to be at risk. Generally, monuments assessed in 2020-21 were more likely to be in a worsening condition or at risk than those assessed to date.   

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

There has been positive progress over the long term in the number of Welsh speakers (especially non-fluent speakers) and in indicators on arts participation and attendance for children. But progress has stalled on the national indicator on sport participation for both adults and children, and there are wide disparities between some groups. Assessments of the historic environment also suggest mixed progress.

  • The national indicator on arts, culture and heritage has only been collected twice and it shows a fall in regular attendance and participation, from 75% in 2017-18 to 71% in 2019-20. There continue to be wide differences depending on age, health, deprivation and qualifications.
  • Despite the decrease in the most recent year, children and young people’s attendance and participation in the arts has increased substantially over the last decade. 
  • Just over 60% of museums and archives have achieved UK accredited standards.
  • Adult participation in sport has been static over the last three years, with 32% of adults taking part three times or more a week in 2019-20. Sports participation amongst school pupils has stayed at the same level in 2015 and 2018 following an increase from the previous survey.
  • The number and percentage of people who speak Welsh fell in the 2011 Census, but surveys since then suggest the numbers are increasing. The results from the 2021 Census will be available in 2022 which will provide the next official estimate of the number of Welsh speakers.
  • Survey data suggests an increase in non-fluent Welsh speakers. The percentage of Welsh speakers that use the language every day has been fairly stable.
  • Conditions of listed buildings in Wales have generally been stable, but fewer recently assessed monuments are in a stable condition. Overall, 76% of listed buildings were in a stable or improving condition compared to 59% of monuments.

Arts, culture and heritage

Regular attendance and participation in art, culture and heritage has fallen amongst adults. We don’t yet have data to understand how the picture has changed during the pandemic.

The national indicator on arts, culture and heritage has been collected twice now, for the first time in 2017-18 and most recently in 2019-20. It shows that there has been a fall in the percentage of adults regularly attending or participating in arts, culture or heritage activities, from 75% in 2017-18 down to 71% in 2019-20.

There continue to be large differences in attendance and participation between groups. Younger adults, people in good health, people with higher qualifications or people living in the least deprived areas of Wales were more likely to attend or participate in these activities.

Looking at the arts in more detail, people were much more likely to attend an arts event than participate in the arts. Some 70% of adults attended an arts event in 2019-20, with film being the most popular choice. But only 19% of adults participated in the arts.

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Bar chart showing two years of data for the percentage of adults who regularly attend or take part in arts, culture or heritage activities. This fell from 75% in 2017-18 to 71% in 2019-20.

Children and the arts

Over the long term, there has been an increase in children attending arts events. Children’s participation in the arts, however, has been more stable.

The share of children and young people attending arts events has increased over the last decade, although there was a slight decrease in the most recent year. It rose from 76.3% in 2010 to 86.7% in 2019.

Arts participation in children has been broadly unchanged over recent years. Around 86% to 87% of children and young people have taken part in the arts in each of the last four years.

There are differences in attendance and participation according to gender and socio-economic background.

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Line chart covering 2010 to 2019 showing the percentage of 7 to 18 year olds attending arts events once a year or more. The chart shows an increase between 2010 and 2019 from 76 per cent to 87 per cent, although there have been small falls in some years along the way.

Sport

Prior to the pandemic, there was no change in the share of adults regularly taking part in sport for the last three years. More recently, the pandemic has widened inequalities in sports participation.

32% of adults took part in sport at least three times a week in 2019-20, unchanged from the previous two years. The share of adults not taking part in any sport has also remained unchanged at 41%.

Men, younger age groups and people in employment were most likely to take part in sport three or more times a week.

The latest school sports survey, from 2018, showed that 48% of pupils in Years 3 to 11 participated in sports 3 times a week. This was unchanged from 2015, following a big increase from 2013.

Data for the national indicator on regular sport participation was not collected during the pandemic. However figures from the National Survey during the summer of 2020 found that the pandemic had a mixed impact on physical activity. Across July and August 2020, 43% of adults said the amount of exercise they did was unchanged, while 32% did less than usual and 25% did more.

Research by Sport Wales found that inequalities in sport participation widened during the pandemic. Older adults and adults in lower socio-economic groups were most likely to report they did less sport or physical activity, compared to prior to the pandemic. The same was true for children from lower socio-economic households.

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Bar chart showing the percentage of adults participating in sport three or more times each week from 2016-17 to 2019-20. From 2017-18 to 2019-20 the figure was 32 per cent.
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Bar chart showing the percentage of children participating in sport three or more times a week in 2013, 2015 and 2018. In 2015 and 2018 the figure was 48 per cent.

Welsh language

Survey data since the 2011 Census suggests that the number of Welsh speakers has increased, although the share who are fluent has remained unchanged.

According to the 2011 Census, 19% of people aged three or older are able to speak Welsh. Because the census only happens once a decade we use surveys to look at trends until data from the 2021 Census is available. Survey data aren’t comparable with the census as people are usually more likely to report they are able to speak Welsh in surveys.

Over the long term, there have been increases in the percentage of people reporting some ability in Welsh. This increase has mainly come from people who are not fluent. The percentage of people who are fluent in Welsh has remained at around 10% to 11% since 2012-13, according to the National Survey for Wales.

There was a one-off fall in 2019-20 among people who are not fluent when it fell from 22% in 2018-19 to 13% in 2019-20. This has since returned to its previous level.

Recent data from the Annual Population Survey showed an increase in the percentage of people able to speak Welsh in 2020-21. The survey switched from face-to-face interviews to telephone during the pandemic and the impact of this on the statistics isn’t yet fully understood. Previous research suggests that some survey methods can result in more people reporting they are able to speak Welsh.

Children are the group most likely to report they are able to speak Welsh according to both the census and surveys. However, the school census shows that the percentage of children able to speak Welsh at home has remained at a similar level to previous years (just over 10%).

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Stacked bar chart showing Welsh speaking ability from 2012-13 to January to March 2021 (no data available for 2015-16). The percentage of people with at least some Welsh speaking ability has grown over time and now stands at 34%. The percentage of people fluent in Welsh has remained stable at around 11%.

The latest Welsh language use survey shows there has been little change in how often people speak Welsh.

In 2019-20, 10% of people aged three or older spoke Welsh daily and could speak more than just a few words of Welsh. This is the same percentage as in the previous Welsh Language Use Survey in 2013-15.

When looking just at Welsh speakers (including those who only speak a few words), over half spoke Welsh daily. This has varied between the Welsh language use surveys, falling from 63% in 2004-06 to 53% in 2013-15, but increasing to 56% in 2019-20.

The frequency of Welsh language use varied by age. Over two-thirds of Welsh speaking 3 to 15 year old spoke Welsh daily, the highest of any age group. This probably reflects the fact that they use the language regularly in school.

Younger adults had the lowest rates of speaking Welsh daily. 45% of Welsh speaking 16 to 29 years old spoke Welsh daily, an increase of 5 percentage points compared to the previous survey in 2013-15.

The percentage of Welsh speakers who spoke Welsh daily was fairly consistent between the older age groups, ranging between 53% and 55%.

There is a clear link between the frequency of speaking Welsh and fluency. Fluent Welsh speakers speak the language more often than those who are not fluent.

Historic buildings and monuments

Conditions of listed buildings in Wales have generally been stable, but fewer recently assessed monuments are in a stable condition.

Of the 30,000 listed buildings, 76% are in a stable or improving condition and 9% are considered to be at risk. In general, conditions of listed buildings have remained similar over the past five years. 

The conditions of a sample of scheduled monuments are assessed each year. In 2020-21, data collection was severely disrupted and delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Condition surveys were carried out for 178 scheduled monuments, of which 52% were found to be stable or improved and 48% worsened. 21% of the monuments were considered to be at risk. Generally, monuments assessed in 2020-21 were more likely to be in a worsening condition or at risk than those assessed to date.  

Of the 4,200 scheduled monuments in Wales, overall 59% are assessed to be in a stable or improved condition. This figure has been gradually falling each year since 2016-17, when 66% were in a stable or improved condition. 41% of scheduled monuments are demonstrating deterioration, of which 15% are considered to be ‘at risk’. The main impacts are damage and decay due to weathering and vegetation encroachment.  

According to the National Survey for Wales in 2019-20, 63% of adults visited a historic place in the last year, with castles, forts and ruins the most likely place to be visited. This data was last collected in 2017-18 and there has been no overall change in the share of people visiting historic places since then.

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Line chart showing the percentage of scheduled monuments that are in a stable or improving condition. It increases from 62% in 2011-12 to a high of 66% in 2016-17. It then falls to 59% in 2020-21.

A globally responsible Wales

Author: Dr William Perks

The goal: A nation which, when doing anything to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales, takes account of whether doing such a thing may make a positive contribution to global wellbeing. Goal 7 recognises that in an inter-connected world what we do to make Wales a sustainable nation can have positive and adverse impacts outside of Wales.

What have we learnt from the data in the last year?

  • Referrals of potential victims of modern slavery in Wales increased on the previous year, with 384 referrals in 2020. This is a 17% increase compared to 2019, although some increase in recent years is probably due to improved reporting. At a UK level this appears to have plateaued in 2020 (10,613 potential victims) compared to 2019 (10,616).
  • The Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support in 15 cases related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation in 2020 in Wales.
  • In 2019/20, within the Skills Challenge Certificate Welsh Baccalaureate, there were over 28,000 entrants for the Global Citizenship Challenge at Key Stage 4 and just under 12,000 at A-level.
  • The proportion of children who were up to date with their routine immunisations by four years of age was 88.0% this year, the highest since this measure was first reported on.
  • Uptake of both the ‘6 in 1’ and pneumococcal conjugate vaccinations (PCV) remained above 95% in children at one year of age. MMR uptake was just below 95% for the first dose at two years.
  • There was a slight fall in the number of asylum seekers receiving support at the end of March 2021, although figures have generally remained steady since the same quarter in 2016. Up to March 2021 a total of 1,434 refugees have been resettled in Wales under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (2014-2020) and UK Resettlement Scheme (2021 - onwards).
  • There were nearly 22,000 international students from over 180 countries at Welsh higher education institutions in 2019/20.
  • In 2021 the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales has been added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, becoming the fourth in Wales.

What is the longer term progress towards the goal?

Data for some of the national indicators suggest that progress is being made towards the Globally Responsible Wales goal. These include long-term improvements to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other national indicators which overlap with the Resilient Wales goal, and an increase in the number of designated historic environment assets (UNESCO World heritage sites). However, the ecological footprint of Wales, an indicator of the total environmental burden that a society places on the planet is roughly equivalent to five times the size of Wales.

Global Context, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

On 1 January 2016, the world began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the transformative plan of action based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to address urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The SDGs emphasise a universal agenda that requires all UN member states, both rich and poor alike, to take action to support sustainable development.

There are many factors which dictate whether Wales is becoming a more globally responsible nation.

The Well-being of Future Generations Act, with its Welsh specific wellbeing goals, provides a framework for Wales’ contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For the most part the other six narrative reports, through their assessment of our progress towards the national wellbeing goals, demonstrate our overall contribution as a nation to the international sustainable development agenda. For example, we report elsewhere on national trends on issues such as poverty, inequalities and decent work. This narrative on A Globally Responsible Wales therefore focuses on areas that are most relevant to the global agenda in particular.

The 46 national indicators for Wales have also been mapped for indicative purposes against the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to help you navigate between progress here in Wales, and the relationship to each of the SDGs.

National Indicators: mapping to Well-being and UN Sustainable Development Goals (interactive tool)

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Whilst some of the narrative is drawn from national indicators and official statistics, some of the data presented in this section is contextual and uses data or factual statements related to specific policies or programmes, where we have considered it relevant to the overall narrative. These data are not collected through official statistics sources, and although reported here for context, we cannot provide assurance about data quality. However, where possible, more information about the data can be found in the Quality Report for National Wellbeing Indicators.

Climate change

People in Wales are concerned about climate change.

Due to changes in how the National Survey for Wales was run in 2020-21, data for views on climate change this year is only available from the National Survey for Wales in May 2020 and January to March 2021.

In May 2020 and January to March 2021, the vast majority (98%) still think the world’s climate is changing. This is an increase from 93% in 2018-19 and 2016-17.

In May 2020, 78% of adults (and in January to March 2021, 76% of adults) were fairly concerned or very concerned about climate change which is in line with the last full annual figures in 2018-19 (76%) and an increase compared to the 67% in 2016-17.

In January to March 2021, the vast majority of those who thought the world’s climate was changing still thought it was partly or mainly due to human activity (95%).

Greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions have reduced since the 1990s, despite some periods of increases.

Goal 13 of the UN SDGs is to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”

Despite a very small increase between 2018 and 2019 (0.2%), emissions in Wales have fallen by almost a third (31%) since the base year. This decrease was driven by efficiencies in energy generation and business sector heating, the use of natural gas to replace some coal and other fuels as well as abatement in some chemical industries. Variations in manufacturing output (e.g. in iron and steel, bulk chemical production) have also had a significant impact on the trend.

The largest source of emissions continued to be the energy supply sector, producing 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Wales. This sector is dominated by power station emissions accounting for two thirds of total energy supply emissions in 2019. The business sector is the second largest source making up nearly a quarter of Welsh emissions.

Estimates of emissions resulting from goods consumed in Wales, even if they are produced elsewhere, will be produced in 2022 for Wales’ first carbon budget period.

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Line chart to show the volume of greenhouse gas emissions (kilotonnes) in Wales in between 1990 and 2019. Although there was a very small increase between 2018 and 2019 (0.2 per cent), emissions in Wales have fallen by almost a third (31 per cent) since the base year.

Modern slavery

Referrals of potential victims of modern slavery in Wales continue to have increased in recent years.

The UN SDGs include a target on ‘Ending modern slavery and human trafficking’. Modern slavery is the term used within the UK and is defined within the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Act categorises offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour and Human Trafficking.

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), the recorded incidents of potential victims of slavery to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) continue to increase each year in Wales. However, at a UK level this appears to have plateaued in 2020 (10,613 potential victims) compared to 2019 (10,616).

This is the first year that the NCA has seen referrals not increase in the UK compared to the preceding year, which is primarily thought to result from the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. Several factors are likely to have influenced referral rates throughout the year, such as lockdown measures in the UK meaning victims were less likely to interact with first responders, or reduced travel to the UK.

In 2020, there were 384 referrals of potential victims of slavery received by police forces in Wales. This is a 17% increase compared to 2019 (329 referrals) although some increase in recent years is probably due to improved reporting and changes in how the data are recorded. 117 of the referrals were females (30%) and 266 were males (69%), 1 (less than 1.0%) was not specified or unknown.

There were 157 (41%) individuals referred for adult exploitation categories and 216 (56%) referred for exploitation as a minor, 11 (3.0%) were not specified or unknown.

The most common type of exploitation for adults was criminal closely followed by labour and for minors was criminal exploitation.

Forced marriage and female genital mutilation

Forced marriage or possible female genital mutilation is being identified in Wales

Goal 5 of the UN SDGs include a target to ‘eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation’.

According to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support in 15 cases related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation in 2020 in Wales, which made up 2% of the UK total. This is a decrease from 37 cases and 3% of the UK total in 2019.

Due to low numbers relative to some other parts of the UK the trend for Wales has been volatile between 2015 and 2020. In addition, lower numbers this year may be attributable to reasons derived from the pandemic, such as restrictions on weddings and travel. Following the introduction of the first lockdown, referrals to the FMU decreased. A procedural change regarding whether to log a new case as a referral or a general enquiry is also likely to have had a minor impact on the overall number of cases compared with previous years and so direct comparisons should be treated with caution.

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Line chart showing The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support in 15 cases related to a possible forced marriage and/or possible female genital mutilation (FGM) in 2020 in Wales. This is a decrease from 37 cases in 2019. Due to low numbers relative to some other parts of the UK the trend for Wales has been volatile between 2015-2020.

Young people

Young people in Wales are learning about global issues but there’s been a decline in recent years in international students attending higher education institutions in Wales.

The UN SDG ‘Quality Education’ recognises the importance of obtaining a quality education and all learners acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality and global citizenship.

Within the Skills Challenge Certificate Welsh Baccalaureate there is a compulsory Global Citizenship component, which engages students in learning about global issues.

In 2019/20, there were over 28,000 entrants for the Global Citizenship Challenge at Key Stage 4 and just under 12,000 at A-level, which are broadly the same numbers in 2018/19 (Key Stage 4: 27,774, A-level: 13,529). There is no new data on grades received due to changes implemented because of the pandemic.

A large number of students from a range of countries attend higher education institutions in Wales. In 2019/20, there were 21,995 international students from over 180 countries, comprising 17.5% of the total student population. This is similar to the figures for the last 5 years but lower than the peak in 2010/11, when there were 26,290 international students in Wales, which made up 20.1% of the student population.

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Line chart showing the percentage of the student population at Welsh higher education institutions who are international students, from 2000/01 to 2019/20. There were 21,995 international students from over 180 countries. This is similar to the figures for the last 5 years but lower than the peak in 2010/11, when there were 26,290 international students in Wales.

Food poverty

Some adults in Wales are facing food poverty and are concerned about affording food.

The UN SDG ‘Zero Hunger’ aims to end hunger and achieve food security and improve nutrition.

The 2020-21 National Survey for Wales reported that 1% of households had received food from a food bank in the last 12 months with a further 2% saying they hadn’t but had wanted to. It is difficult to make direct comparison with previous years due to changes in the wording of the question and in how it is asked. 

The survey also reported 4% of adults said there was at least one day in the previous fortnight where they had gone without a substantial meal. This was lower than 9% reported in 2018-19 and similar to 2017-18 (4%). However, the results across years are not directly comparable due to changes in wording and in how the question was asked.

Asylum seekers

The number of asylum seekers receiving support has remained steady in the past few years but has increased since the start of the decade.

Goal 16 of the UN SDGs is to ‘promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.

Complete figures for the numbers of asylum seekers and refugees who are resettled in Wales are not available. However, figures relating to the number of refugees resettled under the UK Resettlement Scheme (and formerly the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), and the number of those currently receiving asylum support, are published.

At the end of March 2021, more than 2,700 asylum seekers were receiving support in Wales. Although it is a slight fall compared to the previous year, the numbers have generally remained steady since the same quarter in 2016, following an increase since a low during 2012.

As at the end of March 2021, a total of 1,434 refugees have been resettled in Wales under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (2014-2020) and UK Resettlement Scheme (2021 onwards).

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Line chart showing the number of asylum seekers in receipt of Section 95 support, year ending March 2004 to year ending March 2021. The number of asylum seekers receiving support has remained steady in the past few years (2016-2021) but has increased since the start of the decade (2011 - onwards).

Vaccination coverage

Vaccination uptake in young children continues to be high, but has decreased slightly since their highest levels.

The UN SDG Sustainable Development goal ‘Good Health and Well-being’ states the importance of providing access to affordable and essential medicines and vaccines. The World Health Organisation has a vision for a world without measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

In 2019-20, uptake of routine vaccinations reported on at one and four years of age have increased compared to 2018-19, whilst uptake of routine vaccinations reported on at two and five years has remained stable

Uptake of both the ‘6 in 1’ and pneumococcal conjugate vaccinations remained above 95% in children at one year of age for the twelfth consecutive year.

MMR uptake was just below 95% for the first dose at two years. This is suboptimal for preventing outbreaks of measles (target uptake 95%).

The proportion of children who were up to date with their routine immunisations by four years of age was 88% this year, the highest since this measure was first reported on.

The reported inequality gap in immunisation coverage between four year olds residing in the most and least deprived areas decreased compared to 2018-19, from 9.2 to 7.7 percentage points. However, further work is needed to identify the root cause of these inequalities and identify interventions to reduce this gap.

At the time of writing, over 90% of adults in Wales have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. There are inequalities in coverage with lower rates in deprived areas and among Black African and Black Caribbean groups, although these inequalities have been narrowing.

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"Line chart showing percentage uptake of MMR and the 6 in 1 vaccine from 2008-09 to 2019-20. Uptake of both the ‘6 in 1’ and pneumococcal conjugate vaccinations remained above 95 per cent in children at one year of age for the twelfth consecutive year. MMR uptake was just below 95 per cent for the first dose at two years and although has increased since 2008-09, it is lower than the peak in 2013-14.

World heritage sites

Wales has a new UNESCO world heritage site

The UN SDG ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’ states the importance of protecting and safeguarding the world’s natural heritage.

World Heritage Sites are places of Outstanding Universal Value to the whole of humanity. This means that their cultural and/or natural significance is so exceptional that it has special importance for people everywhere, now and in the future.

In 2021 the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales has been added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, becoming the fourth in Wales.

This joins Blaenavon Industrial Landscape in south-east Wales, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in north-east Wales and the Castles and Town Walls of Edward I in Gwynedd at Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech in north-west Wales.

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Further reading

Previous versions of the Wellbeing of Wales report include further analysis of:

  • fuel poverty
  • semi-natural habitats
  • green spaces
  • quality of soil
  • water quality
  • energy efficiency of homes
  • children’s development and educational attainment
  • loneliness and sense of community
  • participation in public representation
  • taking part in volunteering or in arts or sports activities
  • life expectancy and health-related lifestyles
  • people seeking support with their housing
  • likelihood of being victims of crime
  • violent crime, sexual assault and domestic abuse
  • barriers to participation in arts
  • differences between socio-economic and population groups in arts and sports participation
  • trends in the types of activities participated
  • links between Welsh language and arts and culture events
  • children’s use of Welsh
  • female genital mutilation
  • soil concentration
  • single use carrier bag usage
  • UNESCO heritage sites
  • eco-schools and Global Learning Programme Wales
  • participation in Wales for Africa programme

Useful links for further information

A prosperous Wales

Labour market overview, provides a monthly update on the Welsh labour market.

The Welsh economy in numbers dashboard shows trends in the key economic outcomes for Wales, compared to the UK.

Transport Statistics Great Britain (Department of Transport) is an annual compendium of transport statistics, including data for Wales on a number of topics.

A resilient Wales

State of Natural Resources Report 2020 (Natural Resources Wales) provides a comprehensive assessment of the extent to which natural resources are being sustainably managed. It concludes that we need to take a systems approach to addressing the climate and nature emergencies.  Human activity is driving environmental change. See the Bridges to the Future (Natural Resources Wales) chapter.

National Survey for Wales provides data on people’s views on environmental issues.

The Clean Air Advisory Panel produced a report on COVID-19 and air quality, published in January 2021.

A healthier Wales

Public health outcomes framework (Public Health Wales) provides data for the indicators in the framework by characteristics and small area

Office for National Statistics Well-being dashboard provides a visual overview of wellbeing in the UK.

Social services national outcomes framework shows progress made in improving care and support.

The COVID-19 recovery profile (Public Health Wales)aims to monitor and understand trends in broader health related to COVID-19. 

Welsh Health Equity Status Report, Placing health equity at the heart of the COVID-19 sustainable response and recovery (Public Health Wales), aims to help inform and support a sustainable response and recovery from coronavirus in Wales. 

A more equal Wales

Is Wales Fairer? (2018) (Equality and Human Rights Commission)

Student Health and Wellbeing In Wales: Report of the 2017/18 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey and School Health Research Network Student Health and Wellbeing Survey, Hewitt G, et al (2019)

Centre for Equality and Inclusion (Office for National Statistics)

School Report Cymru (2017) (Stonewall Cymru)

LGBT in Wales – Hate Crime and Discrimination (Stonewall Cymru)

LGBT in Wales – Work Report (Stonewall Cymru)

Education Workforce Statistics for Wales (Education Workforce Council)

National LGBT Survey 2017 Data viewer (Government Equalities Office): results of a 2017 UK survey but data is available for Wales. Themes include education, healthcare, life in the UK, safety, workplace.

Out on the streets: LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness in Wales (Llamau)

A Wales of cohesive communities

National Survey for Wales: 2020-21 monthly and quarterly survey

Loneliness (National Survey for Wales): April 2019 to March 2020

Volunteering (National Survey for Wales): April 2019 to March 2020

Sense of community (National Survey for Wales): April 2018 to March 2019

Further analysis of the 2018-19 National Survey data included regression analysis to highlight significant factors for the different indicators:

Feeling safe in a local area (National Survey for Wales): April 2018 to March 2019

Influencing decisions in local area (National Survey for Wales): April 2018 to March 2019

Satisfied with local area (National Survey for Wales): April 2018 to March 2019

Mapping loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic (Office for National Statistics)

Coronavirus and loneliness (Office for National Statistics)

Disability and loneliness (Office for National Statistics)

A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language

The Arts Council for Wales and Sport Wales produce regular in-depth reports on arts and sports. This includes the Children’s Omnibus Survey 2019 and the School Sport Survey.

A range of analysis on the Welsh Language is also available from the 2011 Census and in the Welsh Language Use Survey report for 2019-20. More recently, the following publications analysed survey data on the Welsh Language in more detail:

Speaking Welsh (National Survey for Wales): April 2018 to March 2019

Where and when people learn to speak Welsh (National Survey for Wales): April 2018 to March 2019

Welsh language data from the Annual Population Survey

A globally responsible Wales

UK’s Voluntary National Review of the Sustainable Development Goals (Department for International Development): this is the UK’s first Voluntary National Review taking stock of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

UK voluntary national review: Welsh supplementary report 2019 Supplementary Report to the UK Voluntary National Review

UK data for Sustainable Development Goal indicators

Data sources

A prosperous Wales

Economic performance

Regional gross value added (balanced) per head and income components (Office for National Statistics)

Regional and sub-regional productivity in the UK: July 2021 (Office for National Statistics)

Household income

Gross disposable household income (Office for National Statistics)

Regional gross disposable household income, UK statistical bulletins (Office for National Statistics)

Households below average income (table 2-5ts) (Department for Work and Pensions)

Labour market

Regional labour market statistics in the UK Statistical bulletins (Office for National Statistics)

Estimated 16 to 24 year olds not in education, training or employment by economic activity and age groups (StatsWales)

Pay

Calculate the Real Living Wage (Living Wage Foundation)

Trade union statistics (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)

Gender pay difference in Wales by year (median hourly earnings full-time employees excluding overtime) (StatsWales)

Fair work

Skills and Employment Survey: Work in Wales, 2006 to 2017

People in employment who are on permanent contracts (or on temporary contracts and not seeking permanent employment) and who earn more than two thirds of the UK median wage by quarter (StatsWales)

Percentage of people moderately or very satisfied with their jobs by age (StatsWales)

Poverty

Relative income poverty

Material deprivation

Persistent poverty

Qualifications

Highest qualification levels of working age adults by year and qualification

Education

Academic achievement of pupils aged 4 to 14 in core subjects, 2019

Examination results: September 2019 to August 2020

Businesses

Emissions of greenhouse gases by year (StatsWales)

Travel

Transport Statistics: Great Britain 2019 (Department for Transport)

Ultra-low emission vehicle statistics (Department for Transport)

A resilient Wales

Biodiversity

State of Natural Resources Report (Natural Resources Wales)

ERAMMP Report-78: Interim Report on the Development of Indicator-44 (Status of Biological Diversity in Wales) (ERAMMP)

National Survey for Wales

Habitats

State of Natural Resources Report (Natural Resources Wales)

Water

State of Natural Resources Report (Natural Resources Wales)

Wales Bathing Water Report (Natural Resources Wales)

Flood risk

Flood Risk Assessment Wales (Natural Resources Wales)

National Survey for Wales

Air quality

Air Quality Average Concentration Indicators (StatsWales)

Air Quality Management Areas (Air Quality Wales)

National Survey for Wales

Air pollution and health in Wales (Public Health Wales)

Recycling and resource use

Local Authority Municipal Waste (StatsWales)

Recycling – Who Really Leads the World? (Eunomia)

Ecological and Carbon Footprint of Wales report

Energy

Low Carbon energy generation data (StatsWales)

Energy Generation in Wales 2019

A healthier Wales

Mortality

Life Expectancy (Office for National Statistics)

Public Health Wales analysis of life expectancy and mortality trends

Life expectancy by deprivation (Office for National Statistics)

Healthy life expectancy (Office for National Statistics)

Avoidable mortality (Office for National Statistics)

Deaths by cause (Office for National Statistics)

Age-standardised mortality rate (Office for National Statistics)

Drug related deaths (Office for National Statistics)

Suicides in England and Wales: 2019 registrations (Office for National Statistics)

Alcohol related deaths (Office for National Statistics)

Wellbeing

National survey for Wales

Factors that affect wellbeing (Office for National Statistics)

Well-being measures (Office for National Statistics)

Public Health Wales Public Engagement Survey

Lifestyles

Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (School Health Research Network)

National Survey for Wales

Maternity and low birth weight

Housing quality

Births in England and Wales: 2019 (Office for National Statistics)

A more equal Wales

Equality and diversity statistics (populations)

National Survey for Wales, on life satisfaction, sense of community, feeling of safety, material deprivation

Poverty

Relative income poverty

National Survey for Wales (material deprivation) (StatsWales)

Fuel poverty

Education

Exam results

Student Health and Well-being, 2019/20 (School Health Research Network)

Participation of young people in education and the labour market

Labour market

Labour market statistics (Annual Population Survey)

Participation in the Labour Market (StatsWales)

Coronavirus and employment: analysis of protected characteristics

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Black, Asian and minority ethnic population in Wales

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on disabled people

Pay gaps

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)

Ethnicity pay gap (Office for National Statistics)

Disability pay gap (Office for National Statistics)

Public appointments

The Commissioner for Public Appointments annual reports

Marriages

Marriages in England and Wales (Office for National Statistics)

Crime

Police Recorded Crime Open data tables (Home Office)

Prevalence of Crime (Office for National Statistics)

Deaths involving COVID-19 by local area and socio-economic deprivation: deaths occurring between 1 March and 31 July 2020 (Office for National Statistics)

2021 Senedd elections

Election 2021: How diverse is the Sixth Senedd (Senedd Research)

Level of highest qualification held by working age adults

Homelessness

Homelessness statistics

A Wales of Cohesive Communities

Volunteering

National Survey for Wales

Volunteering Wales

Homelessness

Statutory Homelessness, Homelessness Accommodation Provision and Rough Sleeping - monthly management information

National Rough Sleeper count

Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2019 registrations (Office for National Statistics)

Crime

Crime Survey for England and Wales Perception data (Office for National Statistics)

2020-21 Crime Survey for England and Wales: Crime in England and Wales: Annual Trend and Demographic Tables (table D2) (Office for National Statistics)

CSEW violent crime incidence comes from the Personal crime Incidence open data tables (Office for National Statistics)

Police Recorded Crime Open data tables (Home Office)

Police Recorded Crime 2020-21 (table P1) (Office for National Statistics)

Police Recorded Crime rates are calculated using Mid Year Estimates (StatsWales)

Other data

All other data are from the National Survey for Wales.

A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language

Arts attendance and participation

National Survey for Wales

Arts Council of Wales Children’s Omnibus Survey 2019

Sports participation

National Survey for Wales

School Sport Survey 2018 (Sport Wales)

Welsh Sport Activity Levels During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Sport Wales)

Welsh language

2011 Census

National Survey for Wales

Annual Population Survey

Pupil Level Annual School Census data

Welsh Language Use Survey

Museums and archives

Cadw

National Survey for Wales

A globally responsible Wales

Climate change and food poverty

National Survey for Wales and the Results viewer

Greenhouse gas emissions

National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

Modern slavery

National Crime Agency: National Referral Mechanism Statistics – End of year summary 2020 (Home Office)

Forced marriage

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Forced Marriage Unit statistics 2020 (Foreign & Commonwealth Office)

Welsh Baccalaureate

Data provided by WJEC on request

Overseas higher education students

Welsh Government analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data

Asylum seekers

Immigration statistics, year ending March 2021 (Home Office)

Refugees: Immigration statistics, year ending March 2021 (Home Office)

Immunisation

Vaccine Uptake in Children in Wales COVER Annual Report 2020 (Public Health Wales) and StatsWales

Public Health Wales rapid COVID-19 surveillance

World Heritage sites

Understanding World Heritage Sites in Wales (Cadw)

Background information

What is this report?

This report provides an update on progress being made in Wales towards the achievement of the 7 wellbeing goals. It is a statutory report required under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. It is a report concerning the collective progress of Wales as a nation. It is not a report on the performance of an individual organisation. The first report was published in September 2017.

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. It is intended to make the public bodies listed in the Act think more about the long-term, work better with people and communities and each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach. This in turn is intended to create a Wales that we all want to live in, now and in the future.

The Act also puts in place 7 wellbeing goals for a prosperous, healthier, resilient, more equal and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving welsh language.

For more background information on the Act please see the Essentials guide.

What are the national indicators for Wales?

The Act required Welsh Ministers to set national indicators to assess progress towards achieving the wellbeing goals. From September 2015 to January 2016 Welsh Government undertook a widespread public consultation to identify what small set of indicators should be developed to best measure progress against the wellbeing goals. These national indicators were published in March 2016 and laid before the National Assembly for Wales.

The national indicators are designed to represent the outcomes for Wales, and its people that will help demonstrate progress towards the 7 wellbeing goals. They are not intended to be performance indicators for an individual organisation.

Full description of the national indicators including their technical definition and information about their data sources and frequency can be found in the technical document.

How does this relate to the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a transformative plan of action based on 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to address urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The United Nations’ 17 global goals mean that every country on the planet will have to take action to end poverty, promote prosperity and wellbeing for all, protect the environment, and address climate change. Those goals are meant to be far-reaching, people-centred, universal and transformative. UN member states have committed to working tirelessly towards their implementation by 2030, and Wales will play its part.

Many national indicators will help tell a story of progress in Wales against more than one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We have mapped the indicators against the goals.

National milestones

As well as setting national indicators, the Act also requires Welsh Ministers to set national milestones to assist in measuring whether progress is being made at a national level towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals.

Who produced this report?

The report has been produced by Welsh Government statisticians under the responsibility of the Welsh Government’s Chief Statistician. It has been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics and is therefore produced independently of political influence.

Timeliness

The report has been published in September to ensure it is as close as possible to the end of the preceding financial year, but after the publication of the National Survey for Wales which is the source for 14 of the national indicators

The data for the national indicators will be kept up to date as new datasets are published for those indicators. 

Coverage

This report covers a wide range of subjects, and therefore in this report it is only possible to consider high level measures of progress. More in depth analysis of many of these topics are available through the range of statistical releases published by Welsh Government, the ONS or other statistical producers.

The coverage of the report is Wales. For some indicators, reference is made to the position relative to the UK. The narrative against the goals and for each indicator is based on national progress against the goals, and it does not seek to provide a report on progress at different geographical levels. However, data for many indicators are available on StatsWales, or on request, at lower levels of geographical detail.

Accessibility

This report has been produced as an online report to improve the accessibility, responsiveness and user experience.

The majority of the data underlying the report, including much more detailed breakdowns, are available on StatsWales and through the StatsWales open data services.

Are all the data official statistics?

Most of the indicators (32) are based on sources that have been published as official statistics. That is, they have been published by government statisticians, or by other public bodies, under the Code of Practice for Statistics.

24 of these indicators are based on sources that have been published as National Statistics. That is the UK Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. This means that they meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.

12 indicators are based on other sources such as administrative data held by government departments. 2 indicators currently have no data.

Although not all of the data sources used are from official statistics, the report itself has been developed and published in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics. Ahead of the 2020 report we had intended to seek to gain National Statistics designation through assessment by the Office for Statistics Regulation. In light of the pandemic, this has been paused but we intend to pursue this again in the future.

What else should I know about the data?

The quality report for national indicators reports alongside this release provides links to quality information about each of the data sources used to measure the national indicators, or provides that information where it does not exist elsewhere.

Whilst most of the narrative in the Wellbeing of Wales report is drawn from national indicators, some of the contextual data is from other official statistics or other statistics and evidence where we have considered it relevant to the overall narrative. The data not collected through official statistics sources are used in the Wellbeing of Wales report for context, but we cannot always provide assurance about data quality. As the data in the progress report have been sourced from a variety of datasets, the level of quality information available will differ in each case. We have provided links to the original sources and their quality information where they exist.

Who are the users of this report?

It is anticipated this report will be used by Welsh Government; the Senedd (including Members of the Senedd and its committees); the media; and the general public to (i) help understand the Wellbeing of Wales (ii) progress being made against the 7 wellbeing goals and (iii) where Wales is making progress against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The national indicators and milestones, once published, can help public bodies who are subject to the future generations law understand further the nature of the change expected in achieving the wellbeing goals. The national indicators should be considered as useful evidence to assist public bodies in understanding the main areas where progress should be made in relation to the wellbeing goals.

The national indicators will also have a specific role as they must be referred to by public services boards in Wales when they are analysing the state of economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing in their areas. The report should also be used by public bodies to develop and review wellbeing assessments and to set and review wellbeing objectives required under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.

The annual Wellbeing of Wales report must also be taken into account by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales when they prepare and publish their ‘Future Generations Report’.

UK context

For the UK as a whole, the Office for National Statistics has a National Well-being Programme. The well-being dashboard (Office for National Statistics) provides a visual overview of 43 headline national wellbeing indicators and can be explored by the 10 areas of life (domains) or by the direction of change.

In Scotland, the National Performance Framework (NPF) sets out a vision for national wellbeing and measures achievement in relation to this. A revised NPF was launched in June 2018 following an open review process and is underpinned by statute (the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015).

The revised NPF maps its eleven National Outcomes to the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and forms an important part of Scotland’s localisation of the SDG agenda. Progress towards the vision set out in the NPF is reported on in an open and transparent way on the National Performance Framework website through 81 national indicators covering a broad range of social, economic and environmental measures. In additional to showing performance at the national level the data can be explored by a range of demographic and geographic subgroups to see whether outcomes are being realised for different parts of Scottish society.

In Northern Ireland, the principal mechanism for assessing societal wellbeing is the wellbeing framework of 12 outcomes that was developed by the previous Executive, consulted on and refined during 2016-2017. This framework, which contains 49 supporting population indicators, overarches the Northern Ireland Civil Service Outcomes Delivery Plan.

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency continues to participate in the ONS-led Measuring National Well-being programme and publish a wellbeing analysis (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) based on the ONS wellbeing measures, where Northern Ireland data availability allows.

Other related links

Well-being of Future Generations Act (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales)

Future Trends

National Survey for Wales

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

UK Voluntary National Review (Department for International Development)

UK voluntary national review: Welsh supplementary report 2019

Contact details

Statistician: Stephanie Howarth
Tel: 0300 025 1154
Email: stats.info.desk@gov.wales

Media: 0300 025 8099

SFR 297/2021

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