The Welsh Government (Welsh: Llywodraeth Cymru) is the devolved government for Wales.

The government was established in 1999 as the Welsh Assembly Government by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which created a devolved administration for Wales in line with the result of the 1997 referendum on Welsh devolution. The government consists of cabinet secretaries, who attend cabinet meetings, and ministers who do not, and also of a counsel general. It is led by the first minister, usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, who selects cabinet secretaries, ministers and deputy ministers with the approval of the assembly. The government is responsible for tabling policy in devolved areas for consideration by the assembly and implementing policy that has been approved by it.[1][2]


1999 to 2007 (Executive Committee of the National Assembly)

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As initially established, the Welsh Government had no independent executive powers in law (unlike, for instance, the Scottish ministers and British government ministers). The National Assembly was established as a body corporate by the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the executive, as a committee of the assembly, only had those powers that the assembly as a whole voted to delegate to ministers.

The Government of Wales Act 2006 formally separated the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, giving Welsh ministers independent executive authority, this taking effect after the May 2007 elections. Following separation, the Welsh ministers exercise functions in their own right. Further transfers of executive functions from the British government can be made directly to the Welsh ministers (with their consent) by an Order in Council approved by the British parliament.

Separation was designed to clarify the respective roles of the assembly and the government. Under the structures established by the Government of Wales Act 2006, the role of Welsh ministers is to make decisions; develop and implement policy; exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the government's decisions and policies; hold ministers to account; approve budgets for the Welsh Government's programmes; and enact acts of assembly on subjects that have been devolved to the Welsh administration.

The result mirrored much more closely the relationship between the British government and British parliament and that between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

After the 2007 election of the National Assembly for Wales

Legal separation

The new arrangements provided for in the Government of Wales Act 2006 created a formal legal separation between the National Assembly for Wales, comprising 60 assembly members, and the Welsh Government, comprising the First Minister, Welsh ministers, deputy ministers and the counsel general. This separation between the two bodies took effect on the appointment of the First Minister by Queen Elizabeth II following the assembly election on 3 May 2007.

Separation was meant to clarify the respective roles of the assembly and the government. The role of the government is to make decisions; develop and implement policy; exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the Welsh Government's decisions and policies; hold ministers to account; approve budgets for the Welsh Government's programmes; and have the power to enact assembly measures on certain matters. Assembly measures can now go further than the subordinate legislation which the assembly had the power to make prior to 2007.

Transfer of functions

The assembly's functions, including that of making subordinate legislation, in the main, transferred to the Welsh ministers upon separation. A third body was also established under the 2006 Act from May 2007, called the National Assembly for Wales Commission. It employs the staff supporting the new National Assembly for Wales, and holds property, enters into contracts and provides support services on its behalf.

Welsh ministers

The 2006 Act made new provision for the appointment of Welsh ministers. The First Minister is nominated by the Assembly and then appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. The First Minister then appoints the Welsh Ministers and the Deputy Welsh Ministers, with the approval of Her Majesty. The Act created a new post of Counsel General for Wales, the principal source of legal advice to the Welsh Government. The Counsel General is appointed by the Queen, on the nomination of the First Minister, whose recommendation must be agreed by the National Assembly. The Counsel General may be, but does not have to be, an Assembly Member. The Act permits a maximum of 12 Welsh Ministers, which includes Deputy Welsh Ministers, but excludes the First Minister and the Counsel General. Accordingly, the maximum size of the Welsh Government is 14.

2011 referendum on law-making powers

Functions and areas of competence

Following the "yes" vote in the referendum on further law-making powers for the assembly on 3 March 2011, the Welsh Government is now entitled to propose bills to the National Assembly for Wales on subjects within 20 fields of policy. Subject to limitations prescribed by the Government of Wales Act 2006, Acts of the National Assembly may make any provision that could be made by Act of Parliament. The 20 areas of responsibility devolved to the National Assembly for Wales (and within which Welsh ministers exercise executive functions) are:

  • Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development
  • Ancient monuments and historical buildings
  • Culture
  • Economic development
  • Education and training
  • Environment
  • Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety
  • Food
  • Health and health services
  • Highways and transport
  • Housing
  • Local government
  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Public administration
  • Social welfare
  • Sport and recreation
  • Tourism
  • Town and country planning
  • Water and flood defences
  • Welsh language


The Welsh Assembly Government was renamed Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru) under the Wales Act 2014.[3]

Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and Counsel General

The government is composed of cabinet secretaries and ministers. The counsel general attends cabinet meetings. The current government is formed by Welsh Labour, the sole Liberal Democrats Assembly Member, Kirsty Williams and Independent AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas.


Office Name Term Party Image
First Minister Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM 2009– Labour Carwyn Jones 2011.jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates AM 2017– Labour Ken Skates - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething AM 2017– Labour Vaughan Gething.jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM 2016– Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams 2011.jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services Alun Davies AM 2017– Labour Alun Davies.jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mark Drakeford AM 2017– Labour Mark Drakeford - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths AM 2017– Labour Lesley Griffiths.jpg
Leader of the House and Chief Whip Julie James AM 2017– Labour Julie James - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Minister for Children and Social Care Huw Irranca- Davies AM 2017– Labour Huw Irranca-Davies AM (27555058384).jpg
Minister for Welsh Language & Lifelong Learning Rt. Hon Eluned Morgan AM 2017– Labour Eluned Morgan AM (28136582086).jpg
Minister for Environment Hannah Blythyn AM 2017– Labour Hannah Blythyn AM (27555185853).jpg
Minister for Housing and Regeneration Rebecca Evans AM 2017– Labour Rebecca Evans - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport Rt. Hon Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM 2017- Independent Dafydd Elis-Thomas 2011.jpg
Counsel General
Counsel General for Wales Jeremy Miles AM 2017– Labour Jeremy Miles AM (28170809995).jpg

Civil service

The Welsh Government also includes a civil service that supports the Welsh ministers. As of September 2017, there are 4,957 full-time equivalent civil servants working across Wales.[4] The civil service is a matter reserved to the British parliament at Westminster: Welsh Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but serve the devolved administration rather than the British government.[5]

Permanent secretary

The permanent secretary heads the civil service of the Welsh Government and chairs the Strategic Delivery and Performance Board.

The permanent secretary is a member of the Her Majesty's Civil Service, and therefore takes part in the permanent secretaries management group of the Civil Service[6] and is answerable to the most senior civil servant in Britain, the cabinet secretary, for his or her professional conduct. He or she remains, however, at the direction of the Welsh ministers.


  • Office of the First Minister & Brexit Group
    • Cabinet Division
    • Cabinet Office
    • Communications Division
    • European Transition Division
    • Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO)
    • Constitutional Affairs & Inter-Governmental Relations Division
    • Legal Services
  • Permanent Secretary's Group
    • Finance
    • Welsh Treasury
      • Strategic Budgeting Division
      • Innovative Finance
      • Tax Policy and Legislation Development
      • Office of the Chief Economist
    • Governance & Performance
      • Corporate Services Directorate
      • Corporate Governance & Assurance Division
  • Economy, Skills & Natural Resources Group
    • Department of the Economy & Transport
      • Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales
      • Economic Infrastructure Directorate
        • International Relations, Trade and Investment Division
      • Economic Strategy Directorate
      • Business & Regions Directorate
      • Culture, Sport & Tourism Directorate
    • Department of Environment, Planning & Rural Affairs
      • Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer
      • Land, Nature & Food Direcrorate
      • Environment & Sustainable Development Directorate
      • Planning Division
    • Finance and Operations Directorate
    • Skills, Higher Education & Lifelong Learning Group
    • National Procurement Service & Value Wales
  • Education and Public Services Group
    • Education Directorate
      • Welsh Language Division
    • Local Government Directorate
    • Communities & Tackling Poverty Directorate
    • Office of the Chief Digital Officer
    • Housing & Regeneration Directorate
    • Care Inspectorate Wales
    • Health Inspectorate Wales
  • Health & Social Services Group
    • Population Health Directorate
    • Nursing Directorate
    • Social Services & Integration Directorate
    • NHS Delivery, Planning & Performance Directorate
    • NHS Finance Directorate
    • Mental Health, NHS Governance and Corporate Services Directorate
      • Mental Health and Vulnerable Groups Division
      • Substance Misuse Policy Division
      • Statistical Directorate
      • Office of the Chief Social Research Officer
    • Primary Care & Innovation Directorate
    • Workforce & Organisational Development Directorate
    • CAFCASS Cymru

Strategic Delivery and Performance Board

The Strategic Delivery and Performance Board translates the strategic direction set by the Welsh cabinet and its committees into work that is joined up across Welsh Government departments and makes the best use of its resources. The board is made up of four directors general, four directors and 3 non-executive directors, and is chaired by the permanent secretary.

Board members are appointed at the discretion of and by the permanent secretary. Membership is not wholly dependent on functional responsibilities; it is designed to provide balanced advice and support to the permanent secretary, and collective leadership to the organisation as a whole.[8]

Position Name
Permanent Secretary Dame Shan Morgan, CMG
Director General – Education and Public Services Group Tracey Burke
Director General – Economy, Skills & Natural Resources Group Andrew Slade
Director General, Health & Social Services and Chief Executive of NHS Wales Dr. Andrew Goodall
Director General, Office of the First Minister & Brexit Group Des Clifford
Director, Legal Services Jeff Godfrey
Director, Governance & Performance David Richards
Director, Finance Gawain Evans
Director, HR & Corporate Services Peter Kennedy
non-executive director Elan Closs Stephens
non-executive director James Turner
non-executive director Ann Keane
non-executive director Jeff Fararr
non-executive director Ellen Donovan

Welsh Government sponsored bodies

The Welsh Government is responsible for a number of Welsh Government sponsored bodies (WGSBs). These are, respectively,

WGSBs are staffed by public servants rather than civil servants.

The Welsh Government is also responsible for some public bodies that are not classed as WGSBs, such as NHS Wales, and the Welsh Offices of England and Wales legal offices.


The Welsh Government has a total of 22 core offices across Wales. It also has an office based in Westminster in London. The Government also has 15 offices located in 7 countries outside the United Kingdom, including China, India, United Arab Emirates and the United States.[9]

Historically, most Welsh Office staff were based in Cardiff, especially in Cathays Park. However, in 2002, the Fullerton Review concluded that "the Assembly could no longer sustain having the majority of its operational functions located in and around Cardiff".[10] Since 2004, Welsh Government civil servants have been relocated across Wales as part of the Location Strategy, which involved the creation of new offices at Merthyr Tydfil, Aberystwyth and Llandudno Junction.[11] In 2006, the mergers of ELWa, the Wales Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency into the Welsh Government brought these agencies' offices into the Welsh Government estate.

The office of the First Minister is in Tŷ Hywel in Cardiff Bay; an office is also kept at the Welsh Government building in Cathays Park where the majority of Cardiff-based Welsh Government civil servants are located.


The Welsh Government receives a budget allocation from the UK Government[12] determined by the Barnett Formula.

List of successive Welsh Governments

See also


  1. ^ "Welsh Government: a quick guide" (PDF). Welsh Government. 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "Welsh Government: about". Welsh Government. 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "Welsh assembly report damns Cardiff government for failure to cut poverty". The Guardian website. Guardian News & Media. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "Welsh Government Number of staff at the Welsh Government". gov.wales. Retrieved 2018-01-27. 
  5. ^ "Welsh Government civil service: how we work". Welsh Government. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Civil Service. PSMG Membership". 
  7. ^ a b "Diplomat to be new Welsh Government permanent secretary". BBC News. 2016-11-09. Retrieved 2017-02-03. 
  8. ^ Welsh Government Membership. Wales.gov.uk (18 March 2013). Retrieved on 24 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Welsh Government State of the estate report 2016-2017". gov.wales. Retrieved 2018-01-27. 
  10. ^ "Welsh Government – Update on Location Strategy". 
  11. ^ "Welsh Government – Location Strategy". 
  12. ^ Welsh Government Budgets. Wales.gov.uk (8 July 2013). Retrieved on 24 August 2013.

External links