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What action is the Welsh Government considering and why?

How have people most likely to be affected by the proposal been involved in developing it

The Welsh Language Commissioner, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales are all appointed for a 7-year term of office.

The Commissioner and older people and their representatives have all called for alignment on term of office with the other Commissioners in readiness for the appointment of the next OPCW. Therefore, this proposal is responding to the views of older people who are a protected group under the Equality Act. 

The term of office for the current OPCW ends in August 2024 and work is commencing to appoint the next Commissioner. Officials are publishing a public consultation on a proposal to amend existing Regulations to align the OPCW with the other three Commissioners by appointing on a fixed, non-extendable 7-year term of office.

In addition to responding to requests from the current OPCW and older people, we are carrying out a public consultation to ensure that a larger number of older people, statutory and third sector organisations are content with the proposal to extend. The consultation has been circulated to older people’s groups and forums. 

We have also publicised the proposal with members of the Ministerial Advisory Forum on Ageing and the network of local authority age friendly leads and requested their feedback via the public consultation. It has also been discussed with the staff working in the office of the current OPCW as they will be affected by the proposal.

What are the most significant impacts, positive and negative

If the existing Regulations are not changed, the next OPCW will be appointed in August 2024 for a 4-year term of office. This may be seen as a missed opportunity to create consistency and could lead to suggestions that WG does not give equal status to the OPCW compared to the other Welsh Commissioners. Furthermore, the proposed amendment to the regulations will remove the requirement for future commissioners to ask the First Minister for a two year extension following successful completion of a four year term. It will also remove any uncertainty regarding the length of the OPCW term of office and allow older people to sustain a longer term relationship with the incumbent OPCW.

The OPCW statutory functions include:

  • promote awareness of the rights and interests of older people in Wales
  • challenge discrimination against older people in Wales
  • encourage best practice in the treatment of older people in Wales
  • review the law affecting the interests of older people in Wales

Therefore, the proposal will allow future commissioners to develop and promote policies over a longer period that help to protect older people’s rights and encourage good practice. This in turn could prevent older people from experiencing services and discrimination that is detrimental to their health and well-being. 

Extending the term of office to seven years will allow future commissioners to embed age friendly approaches and continue to work towards the realisation of the goal set out in the Future Generations Act and the Strategy for an Ageing society to create a Wales where we all want to live now and in the future. It will also support commissioners to better balance short term needs with need to safeguard long terms needs, in line with the duty placed on public bodies by the Future Generations Act. 

How will the impact of the proposal be monitored and evaluated as it progresses and when it concludes

The performance of future commissioners will be monitored by Welsh Government Ministers and senior officials and any benefits or issues resulting from the extended term of office will be noted via these meetings.