Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services
On 28 January I laid the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill before the National Assembly for Wales.
With my first appearance at the Health and Social Care Committee scrutiny session on the Bill taking place later this week, I wanted to take this opportunity to put on record my pleasure at how well the Bill has been received since its introduction whilst recognising that more needs to be done to address issues that have been raised. This is why I welcome the amount of thought and work that is being dedicated to the scrutiny of the Bill by the relevant committees.
This Bill isn’t just another piece of law, its main aim is to create the foundations for a generational change of social services in Wales; a change that will make it sustainable not only in the coming years, but in the coming decades. That is why I look to this period within the Bill’s journey as one of the most important, as it is scrutiny alone that will ensure that the foundations that we have tried to create are fit for purpose; and only with solid foundations can you build something that will last.
But this is only the beginning of a long journey, one on which there is a significant amount of work still yet to be done. So, in addition to the official scrutiny process, the Welsh Government is also looking to engage with key stakeholders throughout this period, and beyond, to ensure that we listen further and try to address concerns of any kind. As part of this, officials are in the process of organising a further series of formal engagement events across Wales to be held in May. The events will provide the opportunity for stakeholders to engage in dialogue on the key issues, as well as creating an opportunity to feed into the further development of the policy that will underpin the Bill. Invitations to the events were disseminated this week.
This Bill cannot be delivered without working together and real partnership – not only between the Welsh Government, National Assembly and social services departments, but also with wider Local Government, the NHS, the Third sector, the independent sector and the citizen. It is only through those partnerships, working together and most importantly listening to one another, can we get this vital legislation right, and with that aim in mind, I look forward to working with you all further over the coming months.