Play Policy & Legislation
Explore Play policy & legislation
Wales is the first country in the world to protect in law children’s right to play.
The Welsh Government places great value on play and its importance in children’s lives and believes that:
- Children have a fundamental right to play.
- Play is central to children’s enjoyment of life and contributes to their wellbeing.
- Play is essential for the growth in children’s mental, physical, social and emotional development.
- High quality play opportunities for all children may help mitigate the negative effects of poverty on children’s lives and help build children’s resilience.
- Play can be a way of reducing inequalities between children living in families that can afford costly activities and those that can’t. It has the power to reduce the poverty of experience for all children.
The Welsh Government wants to create an environment in Wales where children have excellent opportunities to play and enjoy their free time. To achieve this, the Welsh Government has made it a legal requirement for every local authority in Wales to both assess and ensure that their area secures enough opportunities for children to play. This legal requirement is called the Play Sufficiency Duty.
Play sufficiency requirements
The Play Sufficiency Duty is included in the ‘Play Opportunities’ section of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010.
The Play Sufficiency Duty was introduced in two parts. The first part, which states that local authorities must assess whether their local area offers children enough opportunities to play, commenced in November 2012. The second part, which commenced in July 2014, says that local authorities must secure enough opportunities for children to play in their area, as far is reasonable and practical.
Every local authority in Wales has to complete a Play Sufficiency Assessment (PSA) every three years. The first PSAs were submitted to the Welsh Government in March 2013. Local authorities must also develop Play Action Plans and submit them to the Welsh Government every year, along with progress reports.
In addition, local authorities have to publish a summary of their PSA on their websites. This summary must include the outcomes of the Play Sufficiency Assessments and highlight the actions that the local authorities intend to take to ensure children have sufficient opportunities for play.
Play sufficiency guidance
Wales – a Play Friendly Country is the statutory guidance for local authorities that sets out how to assess for and secure sufficient play opportunities for children in their areas.
Local authorities must consider the following nine Matters:
- Matter A: population
- Matter B: Providing for diverse needs
- Matter C: Space available for children to play (open spaces, outdoor unstaffed designated play spaces, playing fields)
- Matter D: Supervised provision (playwork provision, structured recreational activities)
- Matter E: Charges for play provision
- Matter F: Access to space and provision, including road safety measures, transport, information and publicity
- Matter G: Securing and developing the play workforce
- Matter H: Community engagement and participation
- Matter I: Play within all relevant policy and implementation agendas.
Play Sufficiency Assessment analysis
Play Wales has undertaken an analysis of the local authority Play Sufficiency Assessments (PSAs) and Play Action Plans submitted to the Welsh Government in June 2022.
State of Play 2022 is the ninth national review Play Wales has undertaken. It builds on the State of Play report commissioned by the Welsh Government in 2000, subsequently updated by Play Wales in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011.
Since the commencement of the Play Sufficiency Duty, Play Wales has reviewed the Play Sufficiency Assessments submitted in 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2022. We have also reviewed various Progress Reports in interim years.