Major revamp of Welsh social services announced

A radical new law that will transform the way social services are delivered in Wales will be switched on in April 2016, Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas has announced.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which received Royal Assent last week, will transform the way in which social services are delivered through a focus on achieving results that are necessary to promote the welfare of the person – as an individual, as a family and as part of a community.

The Act introduces, for the first time, a strong statutory framework for the protection of adults and has provided for strong national leadership arrangements for safeguarding people. It will also ensure people have access to clear information, advice and assistance and will place their voice and rights at the centre of decisions about their care and support.

Speaking at the North Wales Social Care in Partnership annual conference in Llandudno, Gwenda Thomas said: “The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is a transformational and, I believe, a radical Act. It is the most extensive and significant Act to be passed by the National Assembly for Wales since devolution fifteen years ago. It will have a direct impact on the lives of many of our citizens, if not most of them.

“It is also one that has been built by us all together. I want to thank you all for the positive and constructive engagement during the scrutiny of this legislation. But throughout we recognised that we are working for the same goals – a sustainable and citizen-centred care and support system in Wales.

“In some ways the hardest work is ahead of us. Implementation of these changes will need all of us to work together, from the front line to my office door. I am committed to turning on the main elements of the Act in April 2016. That means we will have to turn ourselves to the task of getting ourselves ready for that date. This is a major task, but one I know we are all equally committed to.”

The Deputy Minister announced that a new Bill to reform the regulation and inspection regime in social care in Wales will be introduced before the National Assembly in February 2015. The new Regulation and Inspection Bill will refocus the regulation of social care towards outcomes for people.

The Deputy Minister said: “The Bill will be the sibling of the first. It will reform our regulation and inspection regime in social care in Wales to reflect the new world we are creating.

“It will require a new focus on wellbeing in our system, and refocus the regulation of social care towards outcomes for people. It  will establish a new Institute of Care and Support, building upon the good work of the Care Council for Wales but going further to create a strategic hub for improvement in the social care sector.”

Both laws are a part of a wider strategic change that the Deputy Minister set out three and a half years ago in Sustainable Social Services: A Framework for Action. The new legislation will enable us to now deliver many of those changes.  

Gwenda Thomas added: “This has been a tumultuous period in social care in Wales. The publication of Sustainable Social Services in 2011 started us on a long and complex journey. I still believe fundamentally however that the journey is a necessary one. Without these changes we will not be able to meet the challenges of the future.”