The Committee received its second monthly update in respect of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (“the Act”) and the approach being taken to implementation.  On 13th April 2015 Members received and noted the Director of Social Services’ response to the consultation regarding the first tranche of regulations and guidance regarding parts 2, 3, 4, 7 and 11 of the Act as issued by Welsh Government in November 2014.  The Minister for health and Social Services, on 27th February 2015, provided a statement to Assembly Members about the emerging these from the first tranche of regulations, the related codes of practice and statutory guidance to be made under the Act.  More than 300 substantive written responses from a wide range of individuals, representative groups, local government and professional organisations had responded to the consultation.  The Minister stated that the overall response to the consultation was positive and that respondents were supportive of the principles and detail.


Work on analysing the responses in detail was still ongoing but a number of common themes had 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.

There were concurrent pieces of work underway covering workforce readiness, awareness-raising among the wider population, and key regional implementation activity.  The Care Council for Wales was the lead body for workforce development, and would lead on the development and implementation of a national learning and development strategy.  This strategy was critical to implementation of the Act and would need sustained, deliberate and high profile leadership, which could reach out across a wide range of organisations and partners beyond the boundaries of the traditional social care sector.  It would 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 would bring into force.  It would 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 already in place (making a total of some £11m) would support the development and implementation of cross-sector regional training plans, which would align with both the national strategy and regional implementation plans.


On this basis, regional partners would be required to prepare a self-assessment of readiness to implement the Act.  The two Local Authorities, the Cardiff and Vale Health Board, Cardiff Third Sector Council and the Vale Council for Voluntary Services took part in the self-assessment, which had been submitted to Welsh Government on 30th January 2015.  This was considered by Members at the meeting held on 13th April 2015. 


In respect of preparations to ensure readiness to implement the Act, in order to support Local Authorities Welsh Government had made available the Delivering Transformation Grant in 2014/15, which totalled £1.5m across Wales.  The Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff were allocated £194,910 and this grant was managed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council on behalf of the partner organisations with the Director of Social Services in the Vale of Glamorgan acting as the Regional Lead Director.  The Quarter 4 / end of year report which had set out what had been achieved using the Delivery Transformation Grant 2014/15 was detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.


To reinforce collaboration between local government and the NHS, the terms of the 2014/15 grant included the requirement to develop regional governance arrangements which reflect the national steering and engagement structure, with a Partnership Forum and Leadership Group.  Locally, this had been established through the Integrated Health and Social Care Governance Board and a Strategic Leadership Group.  The terms of reference of the Board had been reviewed on 14th April 2015 and the revised terms of reference was contained at Appendix 2 to the report.


Further to this, the report outlined that these may need to be reviewed again in response to Welsh Government Guidance in respect of Part 9 of the Act, which deals with co-operation and partnership.  Draft guidance was likely to be available for formal consultation in May when the second tranche of regulations and guidance in relation to Parts 5, 6 and 9 of the Act would be issued, with a view of being laid before the National Assembly late in 2015.  The second tranche would seek to create a system which secured 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.


One of the other key deliverables of the grant was the development of a comprehensive regional implementation plan by the end of the financial year.  This was contained at Appendix 3 to the report, which was submitted to Welsh Government on 31st March 2015.


In relation to funding for 2015/16, the report highlighted that the Welsh Government would continue to support local government and its partners in making the transition to the new arrangements.  It had doubled the funding available through the Delivering Transformation grant to £3m in 2015/16.  Subject to budgetary decisions, a further £3m in grant funding would 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 would be driving. 


From this grant, the Welsh Government had allocated £414,648 to the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff region to continue the delivering transformation / sustainable social services agenda during 2015/16.  Appendix 4 to the report set out a programme for delivery which would ensure the necessary resources were in place.


The Chairman queried progress made in relation to the creation of a Regional Citizen’s Panel.  The Head of Business Management and Innovation advised Members that the service had a duty to consult on the impact of the Act and had decided to consult about service user representation within the governance arrangements.


In response to the Committee’s query regarding the potential use of social enterprises, the Head of Adult Services advised that growth in this sector was one of the outcomes following the review into day opportunities within the Vale.  Examples of these were highlighted through the use of organisations such as Positive Images. 


The Committee further enquired about the percentage of care provided “in-house” by the Council, and was advised that within the domiciliary care sector, 95% of the service was provided by independent sector organisations. Members were also advised that 80% of the residential care sector was covered by private care organisations. 


In response to a follow up question as to whether this was likely to change, Members were advised that the Wales Co-operative Centre was looking into this and Members were asked to note that a review of accommodation with care provided to older people was underway. This would highlight what sort of service people would want and what the model would look like.


With regard to funding, the Committee was advised that there were three distinct funding streams, these being the Delivering Transformation Fund, the Regional Collaborative Fund (RCF) and the Intermediate Care Fund (ICF). 


The Director of Social Services stated that funding was one of the main challenges facing the service and he alluded to the Welsh Government’s stance around the Act being cost neutral, despite the scale of new responsibilities and new statutory guidelines that would come about.  He mentioned that the Transformation Fund was not a service development grant like the RCF and that the fund would be concurrent and would be integrated into the Revenue Support Grant.


A Member, referring to the delivery programmes detailed within Appendix 4 of the report, queried the current status of priorities 5, 11 and 14.  He stated that many priorities within the appendices had missed the related deadlines and queried as to what was being progressed.  In response, the Head of Business Management and Innovation advised that this was a significant dilemma for the service as the bids that had been submitted to Welsh Government had not been agreed and so some deadlines had slipped.  The service was hoping that a reply would be received from the Welsh Government very soon.  Further to this point, a Committee Member sought clarification as to how the service would operate when details around allocated money were received late within the financial year.  The Director of Social Services explained that this was why it was such a complex issue to manage, particularly as proposals needed to be approved on a regional basis.  The service would usually receive belated requests from the Welsh Government concerning how allocated funding should be used.  Many of these requests would be aspirational ideas of Welsh Government, for which advice was not always clear as to how these aspirations should be interpreted and the Director felt that in many instances the Council was always playing catch up.  Deadlines and actions could therefore never be fully set in stone but all the changes relating to the Act needed to be implemented by April 2016. 


In response to the Chairman’s query regarding progress made with the new Community Care information system, the Director of Social Services advised that he had been able to attend a trial seminar around the new system and most of the delegates that he had spoken to had been impressed as to how the system worked.  He alluded to the shortcomings within the current system but he offered a word of caution that the new system would not be installed quickly and that it may take between three to five years to be fully implemented.  He explained that this was an extraordinary opportunity for services within Wales and that the sharing of information was of critical importance.  It was also important to mention and recognise the good work that had been undertaken to get to this stage. 


The Committee subsequently




(1)    T H A T the report be noted.


(2)    T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive regular updates about implementing 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 the policy and legislative framework which underpin the work of Social Services.”


Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 21st May, 2015