The Director of Social Services presented the Committee’s fifth monthly update in respect of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (the Act) and the approach being taken in regard to implementation.

The report outlined that the Act would come into force in April 2016.  The Committee had requested regular updates on progress being made in readiness for implementing the requirements of the Act in the Vale of Glamorgan.  This month’s report updated information considered by the Committee in July 2015 which included:

  • Information on the second tranche of public consultation issued by Welsh Government on new Regulations and Codes of Practice  
  • Plans for an awareness raising event in partnership with Glamorgan Voluntary Services
  • The Social Care and Workforce Development Programme (SCWDP) and arrangements for a regional SCWDP partnership.

The first tranche of regulations and codes of guidance were laid before the National Assembly in July and these have now been approved.  Appendix 1 to the report contained the public consultation responses made by the Director of Social Services to the second tranche, submitted to the Welsh Government on 31st July, 2015.  This covered the following areas:

  • The Code of Practice in relation to Part 10 (Complaints, Representations and Advocacy Services);
  • Regulations and Code of Practice in relation to Part 5 (Charging and Financial Assessment); and
  • Regulations and Code of Practice in relation to Part 6 (Looked After and Accommodated Children).

Additionally, on 30th June, the Minister of Health and Social Services issued a written statement, clarifying Welsh Government intentions about how the Act would affect Children and Young People’s Services.  This was attached at Appendix 2.

As reported previously, the Vale of Glamorgan Social Care Development and Workforce Plan (SCDWP) had been submitted to Welsh Government, in order to qualify for the SCDWP grant, a new Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Social Care and Workforce Development Partnership had been established.  

Members were advised that a workshop had been held with those partners who had expressed an interest in being part of this partnership.  Discussions from this session would help to shape the Partnership Board and ensure that it was fit for purpose.  The first meeting of the Partnership was held on 31st July, 2015.  As well as confirming the terms of reference, governance and membership of the Partnership Board, it set out arrangements for ensuring robust communications were in place and that all partners were kept up to date.  One of the first challenges for the Board would be to complete a regional update which needed to be returned to Welsh Government by 25th September, 2015.  

The report outlined that the Care Council for Wales (Care Council) was working with a range of partners to develop a national learning and development plan to support implementation of the Act.  The overall aim of this initiative (funded by Welsh Government) was to ensure that the workforce was supported and informed to deliver Social Services in accordance with Welsh law and and its interface with other relevant statutes and to practice in accord with the principles of the Act.  It had developed and Information and Learning Hub, a One Stop Shop for the wide range of resources that would be produced as part of this initiative.  Over time, the Hub would include training materials in different formats to help the social care professionals implement legislation in their day to day work.

In partnership with the Glamorgan Voluntary Service (GVS), officers from the Vale Social Services Management Team delivered a workshop event at the Barry Memorial Hall on 9th July, 2015.  This event was aimed at staff working in the Third and Independent Sectors, as well as other local authority departments and the Local Health Board.  Over 100 people attended the event which was very well received.  It focussed mainly on areas which were perceived to be the most crucial in implementing, at an early stage, the new model of services required by the Act, which included the following:

  • Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA)
  • Planning and promoting preventative services
  • Supporting the development of new national assessments and eligibility tools
  • Workforce development and training needs.

The above list was not intended to underestimate the need for the service to focus too on many other key areas including safeguarding, charging, advocacy, social enterprises, performance management and regional partnership planning/working.  However, given the very limited timeframe available and the scale of change required it was essential that the Directorate concentrated limited resources on those areas which would most change the relationship between individuals and public services and which would also represent the greatest risk to effective implementation.  The Regional Implementation Plan will need to be amended so that it reflected the strategy.

Work to monitor progress against the current version of the Regional Implementation Plan was ongoing and an update was provided at Appendix 3.  

With regard to Advocacy Services, the Committee noted that Welsh Government planned to invest money to develop advocacy services and had talked about the creation of regional advocacy services.  However, Members were asked to note that regional services would take time to develop and that there would likely be cost implications which had not been fully recognised as yet by Welsh Government.  This could possibly result in local authorities being subject to Judicial Reviews around provision of services which could have significant consequences.  

A Member, referring to the Action Plan attached at Appendix 3, queried progress around action 11.3 on page 13.  The Committee was informed that the intent was to have dedicated capacity on a regional basis to bring together training and development in respect of the requirements of the Act to ensure that staff and partners are fully briefed.  An officer with responsibility for this was being recruited which would help to speed up this process.

In terms of the ambitions of the Act, the Director of Social Services stated that the timescales of the Act were challenging and that the Act would come into force during a period of austerity, which no one had anticipated would last for a period of at least 10 years. The Director stated that in some areas the Act would help to manage demand but in other areas it would increase demand.  The National Assembly had discussed the Act in detail, so it was hoped that Welsh Government fully recognised some of the difficulties identified.  

The Director of Social Services went on to state that Members would recollect a Third Sector partner event regarding the Act which was raised during the Committee’s previous meeting.  At this event a video detailing some of the significant impacts from the Act were shown to participants and it would be useful for all Members of the Council to see this as well.  The Committee therefore considered it useful that a Member briefing session be arranged which would highlight the main areas of the Act i.e. provision of information, planning and promoting preventative services, supporting the development of new national assessment and eligibility tools and workforce development and training needs.  It was agreed that such a briefing session should take place after Christmas and should ideally be held during March 2016.  Members considered that such a briefing session would be useful to Members, particularly as there would likely be concerns raised by service users living within all Wards.

Following consideration of the report the Committee


(1)    T H A T the contents of report be noted.

(2)    T H A T the Committee continues to receive regular updates about implementing the Act.

(3)    T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet, and Cabinet consider the request from the Scrutiny Committee that a briefing session for all Members around the implementation of the Act be arranged to take place some time during March 2016.

Reasons for recommendations

(1&2)    To ensure that Elected Members are kept informed about fundamental changes in the policy and legislative framework which underpins the work of Social Services.

(3)    To ensure that all Elected Members of the Council are fully aware of the potential impact of the Act and that Members are in a better position to respond to possible queries from service users within their Wards.

Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 8th September, 2015