Skip to main content

Foreword by the Chief Statistician

Each year the Wellbeing of Wales report provides a chance to step back and look at how people and places in Wales are changing. The Well-being of Future Generations Act provides us with the framework for doing this: the seven well-being goals. These goals form the basis of the chapters in this report.

With inflation rising sharply during the last year, the impact on the cost of living features regularly throughout this report. Inflation hit a high of over 11% in October 2022, resulting in reductions in people’s real incomes. Some of the impacts of the crisis are yet to fully play out, but this report includes evidence to date on the situation in Wales. Analysis suggests that the impact of the crisis has been felt most severely by people on low incomes.

This year’s report is the first to include a measure of “consumption emissions” which includes greenhouse gas emissions attributed to items produced outside of Wales but consumed here. And for the first time since 2015 there is an update to the global footprint, a measure of the environmental burden we place on the planet. Both of these indicators show that progress is being made but we will need to move faster to reduce our global impact.

There is also evidence this year that children and young people are faring worse in some areas since the pandemic than adults. The percentage of babies with a low birth weight has risen to its highest level this year. Fewer four-year-olds were at the expected level in maths, language, literacy and communication than pre-pandemic.  Data on life satisfaction levels declined for young people (while for adults it improved), and fewer 16 to 24 year olds were in education, employment or training. In addition, the School Sport Survey 2022 recorded the lowest levels of sport participation outside of school among children, in contrast to the improving picture in regular sport participation among adults. And according to the 2021 Census, children were the group to experience the largest decrease in the percentage who could speak Welsh. These findings may have long term consequences for the progress towards the well-being goals.

Ethnicity and wellbeing

This year we have published a supplementary report alongside the Wellbeing of Wales report which focuses on ethnicity and wellbeing. Throughout the development of the Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan, the availability of data and evidence was a recurring theme. The supplementary report aims to bring together existing evidence in order to explore progress towards the well-being goals for different ethnic groups. Alongside other types of evidence, this can be used to help inform decision-making to create a more equal Wales.

New this year

Last year’s Wellbeing of Wales report was the first to report against the generational targets known as national milestones. This year’s report expands this further by including the second wave of milestones that were set in late 2022. One of these new milestones, to increase the percentage of people who volunteer by 10%, appears to have been met in 2022-23 but will need to be sustained over future years.

We’ve also made some improvements based on feedback from the Office for Statistics Regulation as part of their assessment last year of this report. We’ve aimed to improve how we communicate any uncertainty in the data by putting short term changes in the context of long term trends. Where we use survey data, we have also commented on whether these changes are “statistically significant”, meaning they are unlikely to have occurred by chance. We are also developing a framework which sets out how we decide which types of data sources to use in this report and to measure the national indicators, which will be published ahead of next year’s release. I hope this provides further reassurance about the quality and value of the Wellbeing of Wales report.

Stephanie Howarth
Chief Statistician