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Written Statement - Care Bill – Powers in relation to the provision of mental health after care support for people (children and adults) in Wales.

Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services

The Care Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced in the House of Lords on the 9 May 2013. A number of amendments have been made to the Bill since its introduction.  Certain amendments tabled on October 7, in respect of mental health after care will modify the functions of the Welsh Ministers.

This written statement is laid under Standing Order 30 - Notification in relation to UK Parliament Bills.  

The UK Government has stated that its policy aims are to improve standards and quality across the care sector and to modernise the law so that it prioritises the well-being of individuals and enables all those needing health and social care to get good care.

Clause 71(4) of the Bill makes relevant provision which modifies the functions of Welsh Ministers in relation to mental health after care support for people in Wales.

This provision is part of a suite of measures that will clarify the responsibilities of local authorities to secure the provision of after care services to vulnerable people (children and adults ) when they move or are placed across the borders from Wales to England or vice versa.

Clause 71(4) of the Bill will insert subsections (4)(c) and (4A) into section 117 of the 1983 Act which will modify the functions of Welsh Ministers in relation to powers to determine disputes about the ordinary residence status of a person entitled to after-care under section 117 of the 1983 Act (as amended) where one or more of the parties is a local authority in England and one or more of the parties is a local authority in Wales. It will also place a duty on the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers to make and publish arrangements for determining which of them is to determine such a dispute.

The Welsh Government considers that it is appropriate for the provision made in clause 71(4) of the Bill to apply in relation to Wales, and for such provision to be included in the Care Bill. The provisions deal with disputes about a person’s ordinary residence status where the parties to the dispute include one or more local authorities in England and one or more local authorities in Wales.

Disputes under section 117(3) of the 1983 Act are currently determined by the courts. The provision will empower the Welsh Ministers and Secretary of State to determine disputes which involve both English and Welsh local authorities about the ordinary residence status of a person entitled to after care services under section 117 of the 1983 Act in accordance with a protocol which they are required to develop and publish.

It is considered appropriate for these provisions to be made by means of the Care Bill, because the provisions could not be made by an Assembly Act.