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Written Statement - Statement on the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act tranche 1 consultation outcomes.

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

In November 2014, the Welsh Government started consulting on the first tranche of regulations, the related codes of practice and statutory guidance, to be made under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Following the end of the consultation on February 2, 2015, this statement updates Assembly Members about progress to date and the additional funding and support which will be made available as the Act is implemented in Wales.  

The consultation covered five parts of the Act – specifically parts 2, 3, 4, 7 and 11 – in line with the approach to implementation set out by the former Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas AM in her written statement on July 16, 2014.

During the 12-week consultation period, two successful events were held, involving 250 delegates from a wide range of stakeholder bodies from across Wales. More than 300 substantive written responses were received in response to the consultation from a wide range of individuals, representative groups,  Local Government and professional organisations.

The overall response to the consultation was positive. Respondents were supportive of the principles and detail of the draft regulations, codes of practice and statutory guidance.  

Work is ongoing to analyse the responses in detail, however a number of common themes have emerged:

  • The need for a comprehensive approach to learning and development to ensure staff across the sector and partners have the knowledge and skills to deliver the new requirements and organisations are supported to make the necessary cultural changes;
  • The need for a considered approach to transition to the new system;
  • The need to raise awareness among the public about the changes that will be introduced;
  • The need to ensure all delivery partners are fully engaged in considering the way resources are targeted on implementation;
  • The need to embed collaboration, not only in delivery through partnership arrangements such as local authorities and health boards, but also in policy delivery through different parts of the Act;
  • The need to continue to work together to embed new practice and arrangements beyond April 2016, including co-developing guidance around good practice.

The responses will inform the development of final regulations, codes of practice and statutory guidance, which will be laid before the National Assembly from May 2015. In order to have a full suite of information to support the making of the Regulations, working drafts of the first tranche of the codes of practice and statutory guidance will be published alongside the consultation report.

A second tranche of regulations, codes of practice and statutory guidance, in relation to parts 5, 6 and 9 of the Act, will be made available for consultation from May, with a view to being laid before the National Assembly late in 2015.

This second tranche will create a system, which secures outcomes for looked after and accommodated children; drives regional collaboration; puts in place a system of charging, financial assessment and paying for care; supports the making of representations and provision of advocacy and addresses the issues raised by provider failure.

The work of implementing the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act – and through it the new system for social care required by Sustainable Social Services – goes beyond making subordinate legislation, as important as this is. There are three pieces of work underway covering workforce readiness, awareness-raising among the wider population, and key regional implementation activity.

The Care Council for Wales, as the lead body for workforce development, will lead on the development and implementation of a national learning and development strategy. The strategy is critical to the implementation of the Act and will need sustained, deliberate and high-profile leadership, which can reach out across a wide range of organisations and partners beyond the boundaries of the traditional social care sector.

The Care Council will take this work forward with key stakeholders to ensure we have a strategy which covers all of those involved in the provision of social care, together with their key partners, and that it is delivered jointly and in collaboration with those partners.

The strategy will include a training deployment plan and a one-stop-shop information hub, playing a key supporting role for the sector in ensuring its own readiness for the changes the Act and its regulations will bring into force.  

It will be supported by £1m in 2015-16 from the social care workforce development programme. A further £7.1m from the programme, together with the local authority match funding, making a total of some £11m will support the development and implementation of cross-sector regional training plans, which will align with both the national strategy and regional implementation plans. This approach will ensure coherence across the service and workforce planning for implementation at a national, regional and local level.

The Welsh Government will continue to support local government and its partners in making the transition to the new arrangements. In 2013-14 and 2014-15, a Delivering Transformation grant was made available to the six regional partnerships and selected national partners to enable local government and its partners to put in place the requirements of the new Act.

The six regions have carried out some impressive work to date, which demonstrates their commitment to the Act’s implementation and provides an excellent base for the more detailed implementation plans which are now being developed.

The Welsh Government will double the funding available through the Delivering Transformation grant to £3m in 2015-16. This is in addition to the £20m already announced this year to carry on the work of projects funded through the Intermediate Care Fund and the £10m increase in the Revenue Support Grant for Social Services purposes..

Subject to budgetary decisions, a further £3m in grant funding will be made available in 2016-17 to support the embedding process, with a view to transferring this sum into the Revenue Support Grant from 2017-18 in recognition of the ongoing change which the Act is driving.

The work underway now will build on the national consensus we have to make the changes we need to improve social services in Wales. We will continue to ensure all the key aspects Sustainable Social Services are taken forward with the close involvement of citizens and strong joint leadership from local government, the NHS and private and third sector providers.

The Welsh Government will continue to work with the national partnership forum, the leadership group and citizens panel to support this, and ensure that people who use services remain at the heart of our programme for change.