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Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Social Partnership

First published:
7 June 2022
Last updated:

The Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill has today been laid before the Senedd Cymru.

This Bill has been the subject of extensive consultation and engagement with the public and stakeholders. It establishes a statutory Social Partnership Council, creates new social partnership duties on specified public bodies in Wales, promotes fair work and creates a duty for socially responsible public procurement.

The Bill is intended to complement other legislation, specifically the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (WFG Act 2015).  The aim of the Bill is to improve the economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of Wales (including by improving public services) by embedding the principle of social partnership in the operation of public bodies in Wales.  

Social Partnership is a way of working with shared values and a common purpose.  Social Partnership works on the basic principle that more can be achieved by Government, employers and workers (predominantly through their trade unions) working together in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration.

The Social Partnership Council (SPC) will be made up of members representing the Welsh Government, employers and worker representatives nominated by the Wales TUC.  The SPC will provide information and advice to Welsh Minsters on the full range of matters dealt with in other parts of the Bill. The Bill also requires a public procurement subgroup of the SPC to be established that will provide additional expertise and support the SPC in the monitoring of the socially responsible procurement duties.

The social partnership duties will apply to certain public bodies and to the Welsh Ministers. The duty on public bodies will require them to seek compromise or consensus with their recognised trade unions or (where there is no recognised trade union) other representatives of their staff when setting well-being objectives and making decisions of a strategic nature to achieve those objectives under the WFG Act 2015.

Welsh Ministers will be placed under a separate duty to consult with the Social Partnership Council when taking steps to meet their well-being objectives.

The Bill amends section 4 of the WFG Act 2015 by substituting ‘fair work’ for ‘decent work’ within the existing “A prosperous Wales” goal, this being one of the goals to be pursued by public bodies and Welsh Ministers when carrying out sustainable development under the WFG Act 2015.  This means that all public bodies subject to the WFG Act 2015, including Welsh Ministers will need to consider fair work in pursuing the “A prosperous Wales” well-being goal.  It will enable fair work to be pursued through the process of setting and publishing well-being objectives and reporting on progress against them. 

A Socially Responsible Procurement duty will apply to certain public bodies who will be required to seek to improve economic, environmental, social, and cultural well-being when carrying out procurement, to set objectives in relation to well-being goals, and to publish a procurement strategy. Public bodies will also be expected to carry out contract management duties to ensure that socially responsible outcomes are pursued through supply chains.

The socially responsible public procurement duties cover the full procurement cycle i.e. planning, procurement, contract management, review and compliance. Public bodies and the Welsh Ministers will have reporting duties in relation to the social partnership duties and procurement duty.

I will be making a legislative statement in Plenary on Tuesday 7th June. A copy of the Bill and its supporting documentation is available here. We will continue to work in social partnership as this legislation progresses. Alongside this I look forward to further discussions with Plaid Cymru as part of the cooperation agreement, working with Members of the Senedd and continued engagement with stakeholders during its scrutiny consideration of the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill over the coming months.