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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 2ND NOVEMBER, 2015 

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH): 5TH OCTOBER, 2015 

“ UPDATE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES AND WELL-BEING (WALES) ACT 2014 (DSS) –

 

The Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act would come into force in April 2016.  The Committee had requested regular updates on the progress being made in readiness for implementing the requirements of the Act in the Vale of Glamorgan.  This report updated information considered by the Committee in September 2015, which included:

  • The work of the Care Council for Wales in developing a national learning and development plan to support implementation of the Act and also an Information and Learning Hub (which was a one stop shop for the wide range of resources being produced as part of this initiative)
  • The successful awareness raising event in partnership with the Glamorgan Voluntary Services
  • The Social Care and Workforce Development Programme (SCWDP) and arrangements for a regional SCWDP partnership across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff.

The report outlined that a draft legislative timetable had been prepared recently, which was shown at Appendix 1.  This set out the proposed timescales for laying the remaining Regulations and Codes of Practice before the National Assembly, for approval.  This information indicated that, despite considerable effort, the Welsh Government could not be certain of finalising the secondary legislation required before the deadline for implementing the Act.  

 

As there was now increased clarity regarding the detailed Regulations and Codes of Practice for the different parts of the Act, the Care Council for Wales had been able to award the national contract for developing the Tranche 2 training materials, won by the Institute of Public Care (IPC).  The four core modules which were being developed by the IPC were as follows:

  • Introduction and General Functions, which would cover information and advice as well as prevention;
  • Assessing and Meeting the Needs of Individuals;
  • Looked After and Accommodated Children; and
  • Safeguarding.

It was intended that summaries of the main messages from all four modules would be made available for every role within the social care sector, to ensure that the entire workforce had an opportunity to understand how the Act would affect their work.  The IPC had also been commissioned to deliver “training the trainer” events.  Officers from the Council were seeking to co-ordinate the national training plan for the Act and the regional learning and development programmes within the Vale and Cardiff.  Virtual teams from both Local Authorities were working together to ensure that training for the Act was managed efficiently and effectively across the workforce.

 

The second meeting of the new Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Social Care Workforce Development Partnership was held on 9th September, 2015.  During this meeting the Partnership considered the first draft of the Mid-Year Monitoring Report and updated Plan.  This would be submitted to Welsh Government on 25th September, 2015.  

 

A major source of concern for Local Authorities and their partners in planning how to implement the Act had been the scale of the change agenda required.  The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) had been looking to secure Welsh Government approval for a national programme that focused upon agreed priority areas, these being:

  • Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA)
  • Supporting the development of an assessment and eligibility toolkit
  • Planning and promoting preventative services
  • Workforce
  • Performance management.

The report stated that these would not disregard the need for local action that focused on the many other key areas including safeguard, looked after and accommodated children, charging, advocacy, social enterprises and regional partnership planning / working.  However, given the very limited timeframe available and the scale of change required, it was essential that the service concentrated limited resources and programmes of work at the national and regional levels on these areas which would change most the relationship between individuals and public services and which also represented the greatest risk to effective implementation.

 

The Regional Implementation Plan would need to be amended so that it reflected this approach.  This was to be submitted to Welsh Government by 30th September 2015 but had been pushed back to 16th October, 2015.  In addition to the Regional Partnership Board for the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff operating at a strategic level, the two statutory directors had established a sustainable social services working group which would ensure that the service was making the best use of resources, preventing duplication and also sharing best practice.  The work of the Board would be monitored in the Vale by the corporate arrangements in place for overseeing the social services collaborative programme, which was part of the Council’s Reshaping Services agenda.

 

Following Ministerial approval, a Code of Practice setting out in more detail the responsibilities of the Director of Social Services would be issued for consultation in October.  It was anticipated that there would be a 60 day consultation period.  Subject to feedback and any proposed revisions, the final Code of Practice would be placed before the Assembly in February 2016 and would come into force from April 2016.  

 

The statutory Code of Practice in relation to measuring social services performance has been issued under Section 145 of the Act.  Work was ongoing to consider the technical guidance and to assess what needed to be done to ensure that the service collected the relevant data from the beginning of the next financial year. 

 

As discussed at a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee in September 2015, an event would be arranged for all Elected Members in March 2016 to ensure that they had up to date information on the Act and its requirements.  

 

The Committee raised a number of queries regarding the five key priorities identified by the ADSS.  Members, aware that implementation of the Act was to come into effect from April 2016, queried whether the Welsh Government was content with the priorities identified within the ADSS’s national programme.  In response, the Regional Lead – Sustainable Social Services stated that the Welsh Government had accepted that implementation of the Act represented a big challenge for Local Authorities.  The ADSS had identified key priority areas that the service had to get right.  She referred Members to paragraph 8 of the covering report, which reaffirmed the Council’s approach to ensure that the other important elements of the Act were not disregarded.  She went on to advise that the Welsh Government seemed happy with this approach.  On a regional level there was an expectation around implementation of the Act as a whole, although it was likely that some parts of the Act may take two to three years to fully implement.

 

In addition, the Head of Children and Young People Services commented that whilst two of the areas not in the priority workstreams were Looked After Children and Safeguarding, this did not mean they were not being considered.  She advised that these areas involved less change and she reassured Members that the service would still be working with these children and young people in accordance with their needs.  What the ADSS had recognised was the need to prioritise resources in the key areas of change.  

 

In response to a Member’s query regarding charging for services, advocacy and social enterprises, the Regional Lead – Sustainable Social Services advised that within the ADSS’s national programme, advocacy would come under the information advice and assistance part, whilst charging would form part of the assessment and eligibility toolkit.  Charging was included within the second tranche, for which clear guidelines were still to be produced.  In terms of social enterprises, the Committee was advised that new ways of working and new service models would evolve over time, particularly around preventative services.  

 

A Committee Member, in referring to the timetable attached at Appendix 1 to the report and the consultation exercises undertaken under Part 4 and Part 11, enquired as to whether any issues regarding the Welsh Government proposals had been raised.  In reply, the Regional Lead – Sustainable Social Services stated that following consultation on Tranche 1 of the Act, very little had subsequently changed.  Members of the Committee had previously seen sight of the Directorate’s response to Tranche 2 in which a number of issues and queries were raised.  Members were advised that Welsh Government was still in the process of working through these and that a meeting with Welsh Government officials would be held on 11th November 2015 to discuss details around Tranche 2.  Feedback from this meeting would be provided to the Committee in due course.  

 

The Committee also enquired as to whether there were any concerns raised by staff, particularly in light of the pace of change.  In response, the Head of Adult Services informed Members that the Directorate’s biggest challenge was that the detail around the Act was still not there and so it was difficult to train staff without the detailed changes.  

 

Having considered the report, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2) T H A T the Committee continue to receive regular updates about implementation of the Act.

 

(3) T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3) To ensure that Elected Members are kept informed about fundamental changes in policy and the legislative framework which underpins the work of Social Services.”



Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) - 5th October, 2015

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