Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014: An update on legislative, national and regional implementation
Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services
Following the end of the consultation on 31 July 2015, this statement updates Assembly Members on progress to date, highlights forthcoming activity and advises members of the communications support that we are making available.
The consultation covered 4 parts of the Act – specifically parts 5 (Charging and Financial Assessment), 6 (Looked After and Accommodated Children), 9 (Co-operation and Partnership) and 10 (Advocacy Services) – in line with the approach set out by the former Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas AM in her written statement of 16 July 2014.
During the 12-week consultation period, 2 events were held, involving over 200 delegates representing a wide range of stakeholder bodies from across Wales. More than 200 substantive written responses were received to the consultation from a broad mix of individuals, representative groups, local government and professional organisations.
The overall feedback was positive with respondents broadly supportive of both the principles and detail of the draft regulations, codes of practice and statutory guidance. Further detail on these will be available within the consultation summary reports to be published shortly.
As a result of consultation a number of key changes have been made. These include:
- Adding a new chapter on debt recovery to the part 5 code on charging and financial assessment.
- Creating a new requirement in the choice of accommodation regulations (under part 5) so that where a person’s preferred choice of care home cannot be met, the local authority must inform them of the specific reason for this.
- Using clearer terminology in the care planning and placement regulations, around care and support plans, and in the part 6 code on looked after children, around the review of plans and their relationship with other plans.
- Changing the regional collaboration footprint under part 9 to establish a separate partnership board for Powys, encompassing the local authority, Powys Teaching Health Board and key local partners.
- Refining provisions within the part 10 code on advocacy around when a local authority must provide independent professional advocacy and including a reference to advocacy in each of the codes and statutory guidance produced under the Act.
The revised tranche 2 regulations and final codes of practice for parts 2 (General Functions), 3 (Assessing the Needs of Individuals), 4 (Meeting Needs), 5 (Charging and Financial Assessment), 6 (Looked After and Accommodated Children), 10 (Complaints, Representations and Advocacy) and 11 (Miscellaneous and General) of the Act, have now been laid before the Assembly for scrutiny. I will also publish statutory guidance on parts 7 (Safeguarding) and 9 (Co-operation and Partnership) later this month.
The regulations and codes of practice, as laid, can be viewed at:
These, together with the code of practice in relation to measuring social services performance – laid before the Assembly in June and subsequently issued on 5 October – will substantially complete the legislative framework under the Act and provide much of the detail required for implementation. The final code of practice, in relation to part 8 of the Act (the role of Directors of Social Services) is currently out to consultation – closing on 4 December – and will be laid before the Assembly in early 2016, along with regulations in respect of consequential amendments.
Implementation will not be achieved through the making of legislation alone. We rely on a range of key partners to provide the national and regional leadership required to deliver the Act on the ground. Working with our immediate partners – the Welsh Local Government Association, the Welsh NHS Confederation, the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru and the Care Council for Wales – we have prepared a collaborative statement, Delivering the Social Service and Well-being (Wales) Act. This sets out the main activities each partner will take forward over the coming months in progressing the national implementation programme. This joint approach demonstrates the commitment of each partner to ensuring that the Act delivers better, more sustainable social services for the people of Wales.
I have provided financial support to the 6 regional implementation collaboratives for the past 3 years, through the Delivering Transformation Grant (£3m in 2015-16), to enable capacity for implementation planning and preparations to deliver the new duties contained within the Act from 6 April 2016. Each regional collaborative has detailed implementation plans in place, and they are working together, with the support of the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru and the Welsh Local Government Association to ensure consistent national approaches in key delivery areas.
The Care Council for Wales is delivering the National Learning and Development Strategy for the Act funded through a £1m allocation from the Social Care Workforce Development Programme 2015-16, with an additional £7.1m available to local authorities in order to prepare their workforces for the commencement of the Act. As part of this strategy the Care Council is preparing to roll-out bespoke learning materials on the Act for all partners to support the cascade of training within the regions from January 2016. This will be supported by the Care Council’s Information and Learning Hub – an accessible, one-stop-shop for information and resources on the Act, including the collaborative statement.
Shortly we will publish a set of technical briefings summarising the duties placed upon local authorities and their statutory partners by the Act to complement the themed infographics for key stakeholder groups already in circulation. Two major information events for stakeholders are also being held this month, one in North and one in South Wales.
One of the key messages highlighted through consultation has been the need to communicate the changes the Act will make to the general public. To this end, a Welsh Government-led national awareness raising campaign will commence in January 2016, preceded by an easily accessible summary publication developed for a wide range of audiences.
I am grateful to Members for the support provided in making the changes required to improve social services in Wales. Supported by input from the national partnership forum, leadership group and citizens panel, I will continue to ensure all the key aspects of Sustainable Social Services for Wales are taken forward by strong joint leadership from local government, the NHS and private and third sector partners, and that people who have need of care and support in Wales remain at the heart of our programme for change.