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Written Statement - Post-Consultation Update on the Social Services (Wales) Bill

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Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services

  

I published a written statement on 12 March 2012 alerting Assembly Members, stakeholders and the wider public to the launch of the consultation on the Welsh Government’s proposals for a new Social Services Bill for Wales.

The public consultation ran from 12 March to 1 June 2012.  During the consultation period I and my officials met with over 500 individuals at a range of public events, and 275 written responses have been received from stakeholders.

Analysis of those responses has been undertaken, and the views our consultees have shared with us are being carefully considered as part of the Bill drafting process, which is now well underway.

A consultation response report will be published later in the summer.  This will include an account of the issues raised by consultees in relation to our proposals, and our responses to these.

In the meantime however I can announce today that I have taken the decision not to include within the Social Services (Wales) Bill those provisions relating to the regulation and inspection of the social care workforce and social care services in Wales which were included in chapter 5 of our consultation document.  

I have taken this decision in light of the feedback we have received from stakeholders in response to our original proposals, and in order to afford more time for us to consider how we might best achieve our ambitions for a modern and citizen-led regulation & inspection regime for Wales.

This decision creates the opportunity for us to go beyond the proposals laid out in our consultation paper, and it seems to me from the consultation analysis that there is an appetite for this.  I am therefore proposing that a separate piece of primary legislation be introduced during the lifetime of the current Assembly which will address the regulation and inspection of the social care workforce and social care services in Wales.  I intend to publish a White Paper during 2013 on the proposed content of this second Bill, and will keep Assembly Members and stakeholders informed of developments as work on this new legislation progresses. 

I had indicated in my previous statements that it was our intention to seek to introduce the Social Services (Wales) Bill during the autumn of 2012.  However, in light of the scale and complexity of the Bill which is emerging from the consultation responses and the drafting process, I have agreed with the First Minister that the Bill will instead be introduced to the National Assembly in January 2013.

I have said before that it is imperative that we get this important and ambitious piece of law right; that we understand and work through the implications for existing legislation and practice of our new approach; and that the Bill is the best we can possibly make it before it is laid before the National Assembly.
I believe that our reasons for taking the decision to introduce the Bill in the new year are sound, and I trust that we will continue to progress with the continued support of our stakeholders in the spirit of consensus and collaboration that has typified our journey so far.