How Wales is Governed
Working with the Welsh Government
The terms “Welsh Government” and “Senedd” or “Welsh Parliament” mean different things but are often confused. The Welsh Government is the executive function of the government of Wales and consists of Ministers supported by civil servants largely based in Cathays Park in Cardiff and other regional offices. The Welsh Parliament or Senedd Cymru is the legislative function and consists of Members of the Senedd (MSs) and develops and scrutinises Welsh Government policy and performance and passes Welsh law. The Senedd is based in Cardiff Bay and is supported by officers in the Senedd Commission.
The Welsh Government has a wide range of powers which impact on local government and the services it delivers. It is responsible for a range of local government policy areas, such as social services, education, the environment, planning, transport and economic development. Critically, it is responsible for distributing Wales’ £17 billion revenue budget, of which £5.7 billion (2021/22 ) is spent on local government services.
The Welsh Government sets the national agenda for Wales, and whilst setting strategies and key targets, it gives significant flexibility to local government to work within these national parameters. Most of the funding passed from the Welsh Government to local councils is not ‘ring fenced’, that means councils have maximum flexibility to spend the money on local needs and priorities.
Working with the Government
Councils have direct links with the Welsh Government, via elected members and officers. Much of the national representation and negotiation over policy development and funding is undertaken through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA). This is a cross-party organisation which represents all councils and seeks to speak with one voice on behalf of local government. Leaders and senior councillors from all local authorities are appointed to the WLGA, with a number acting as local government spokespersons meeting regularly with Welsh Ministers, MSs and UK Government Ministers, to ensure local government’s concerns and views inform national decision-making.
WLGA office holders can be found here here.
There is a statutory Partnership Council between the Welsh Government and local government which promotes joint working, cooperation and informed policy development.
See details of WLGA political meetings here.
The Senedd can make laws for Wales in the following areas:
- Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development
- Ancient monuments and historic buildings
- Economic development
- Education and training
- Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety
- Health and health services
- Highways and transport
- Local government
- Public administration
- Social welfare
- Sport and recreation
- Town and country planning
- Water and flood defence
- The Welsh language