Agenda Item No 7

The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 7th March, 2016


Report of the Director of Social Services


Update on Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014


Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide Scrutiny Committee with a monthly update in respect of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and the approach being taken to implementation.


That Scrutiny Committee:

  1. Notes the report.
  2. Continues to receive regular updates about implementing the Act.
  3. Refers this report to Cabinet for information.

Reason for the Recommendations

1,2 & 3 To ensure that elected Members are kept informed about fundamental changes in the policy and legislative framework which underpins the work of Social Services.


  1. The Social Services and Well-being Act comes into force in April 2016. The Committee has requested regular updates on the progress being made in readiness for implementing the requirements of the Act in the Vale of Glamorgan.
  2. This report updates the information considered by the Committee in January 2016, which included:
  • An update on the Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA) Service, especially in the area of adult services where we are building upon the positive work undertaken in integrating social care and NHS processes and staff alongside Contact One Vale.
  • Information on the resources identified to secure a customised version of the national information portal, Dewis Cymru, for Cardiff and the Vale. Dewis can be found by following this link www.Dewis.Wales.
  • The selection of our region by the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) to pilot a new training course aimed at officers working at the First Point of Contact so that they fully understand the changes introduced by the Act. .
  • Progress of the four national work groups, established to share best practice and produce consistent material on an all-Wales basis.
  • Information on the series of technical briefings for the tranche 1 codes of practice. These were described as "gateway" documents that summarise the key points for each code. Access to the briefings is again via the Care Council's Communications Hub.
  • An update on the national awareness raising campaign, led by Welsh Government, which will start in February 2016. The Council's Communications team will be assisting in dissemination of the key messages.
  • Progress update on the workforce development materials being developed by the Care Council for Wales.
  • The completion of the national training materials for the four core modules and the briefings for external trainers, to ensure that these materials are responsive to our needs.
  • Confirmation that the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University will provide support for the new Regional Partnership Board, which will be established in accordance with statutory guidance under Part 9 of the Act, and deliver training on the implications of the Act for elected Members.
  • An updated WLGA e- Bulletin.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The four all-Wales work streams continue to meet. This region has sent officers to each of these groups so that we can contribute to developing national toolkits/checklists and, where possible, avoid duplication and ensure that procedures/processes fit with the local context. The national checklist outlining the common recording requirements for assessments has been completed and work continues on developing the national checklist for the care and support plan.
  2. The implementation team and change champions are finalising the amendments needed to the eligibility/assessment of needs processes in order to meet the requirements in the assessment national checklist. They are working with staff to update the Swift IT system so that the information can be recorded electronically. Local updates will be delivered to staff in March to take them through these changes.
  3. Using the national training materials, workforce development exercises have commenced to ensure that staff receive an overview of four key areas of change on a prioritised basis. External trainers have been brought in to work in partnership with the implementation team and our local authority change champions. Not all staff will be trained by April 6th and training will continue until all relevant staff have been briefed. We are currently evaluating feedback on the training received to date.
  4. We continue to work with the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) to pilot a new training course which will equip officers working at the First Point of Contact with a full understanding of the changes introduced by the Act. This includes focusing on the 'what matters' question in initial discussions with the people who contact them. The first of the 'Better Conversation' session took place in January with consolidation sessions taking place in February and March. Initial feedback has been positive. Once the evaluation is completed, this training will be rolled out to more staff.
  5. The Institute of Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University has been appointed to deliver training for elected Members on the implications of the Act. Invitations have been sent for a session on March 9th. This session will also include an update on corporate Safeguarding.
  6. A Public Awareness Campaign was launched by the Health and Social Care Minister on February 11th. The Minister also announced membership of the National Independent Safeguarding Board which will advise him and work alongside the regional safeguarding boards (adults and children) to secure improvements in safeguarding policy and practice throughout Wales. The statutory framework introduced by the Social Services Well-being Act 2014 will require changes to "Working Together under the Children Act 2004" and "In Safe Hands" (which guides the response to adult abuse and neglect). However, these are unlikely to be available for some time. In addition, some staff in the Council are obliged to follow the January 2013 version of the 'Wales Interim Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Abuse' (POVA), which will also need updating to ensure compliance with the Act. Because times of significant change can generate increased risk to vulnerable people, it is important to have available to clear guidance for all staff during such periods. Both regional safeguarding boards will be asked to confirm that the current guidance in respect of multi-agency and multi-professional policies and procedures will remain in force until any new material is agreed.
  7. A local co-production workshop was held on February 25th with providers of advocacy services to explore how best an independent professional advocacy service for adults can be provided. We are discussing with Welsh Government how to develop a national approach to this issue similar to that being taken forward for children.
  8. The Act establishes a duty on local authorities and Local Health Boards to carry out a regional population needs assessment by March 2017. This will help us to identify the range of preventative and well-being services currently available and plan developments. The Cardiff and Vale Public Health service will be coordinating this work. We intend using the Delivering Transformation Grant in 2016/17 to commission additional capacity to carry out this task.
  9. In March, the Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet will receive a report which sets out in detail the requirements of the Act and the changes needed. This report will highlight the fact that April 6th is another step, albeit a fundamental one, on the journey towards full implementation of all the changes required. Much work will remain to be done thereafter, especially in reforming current services, revising current policies to ensure that they are compliant with the new statutory framework, and achieving the shifts in organisational culture needed.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The Welsh Government has committed to continue supporting local government and its partners in making the transition to the new arrangements. It doubled the funding available through the Delivering Transformation grant across Wales to £3m in 2015/16. From this grant, the Welsh Government allocated £414,648 to the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff region, to continue delivering the transformation/sustainable social services agenda in 2015/16. The programme is led by the Director of Social Services in the Vale of Glamorgan, which administers the grant. We have recruited to some additional short-term posts that are helping us to prepare for the Act and to review current processes, policies and procedures.
  2. It has been confirmed that a further £3 million will be made available from the Sustainable Social Services budget for 2016-17. The Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff will be allocated £425,220. Subject to Welsh Government's budgetary decisions, it is intended that this grant will be moved into RSG the Revenue Support Grant from 2017/18 in recognition of the ongoing programme of change required by the Act
  3. There are no long-term resource implications as a direct consequence of this report. However, the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 sets a whole range of new challenges and service user entitlements which will have to be met at a time of severe financial restraints for local government and social services. It has been made clear that there will be no additional resources from the Welsh Government for this purpose, apart from the transitional/transformational funding. Local authorities remain very cautious about whether there will be sufficient resources available to meet increased commitments and expectations in the face of growing demand for services. It is essential that the Council takes account of the budget pressures that will be experienced by the Social Services Directorate as a direct consequence of the Act. Members will be aware of the severe negative impact upon the Social Services budget that has followed introduction of a national maximum charge for non-residential care and support. Some aspects of the legislation may exacerbate the problems. There is a commitment to review the policy but no indication that any major change is likely.
  4. On 11th November, the Minister issued a Written Statement - Further Update on Reform of the Arrangements for Paying for Social Care and Support. He regrets that continued uncertainty about relevant UK reforms means that he is still not in a position to make informed decisions about the position in Wales. However, Welsh Government will move ahead with implementing an updated financial assessment and charging framework under Act. The regulations and code of practice relating to Parts 4 and 5 of the Act, introducing the updated framework, were laid before the National Assembly on 3rd November.
  5. The key elements of the framework include:
  • one set of financial assessment and charging arrangements for non-residential and residential care and support rather than one for each at present;
  • maintaining the present weekly maximum charge and "buffer" for non-residential care and support, as well as the current capital limit used to determine who pays the full cost of their residential care themselves;
  • maintaining the current individuals, and forms of care and support, for which a charge cannot be made and introducing a new provision of up to six weeks free reablement to enable a person to maintain or regain their ability to live independently so as to promote the prevention ethos of the Act;
  • introducing more transparency by extending the requirement for all those who receive a charge to receive a statement detailing this and its calculation;
  • introducing a consistent, universal review process to enable a person to query charges made and correct errors;
  • maintaining deferred payments in residential care to enable those whose property may need to be sold to pay for this to delay its sale until a time more appropriate for them; and by introducing the ability of a local authority to charge a low set rate of interest on the amount deferred; and
  • allowing authorities to recover charges and to create a charge over land where a debt occurs.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Effective delivery of the new statutory responsibilities is intended to ensure that the Council's assets are managed efficiently and effectively and that best use is made of the resources available for social care services, establishing sustainable models of assistance and support as well as contributing to the most appropriate ways of meeting the needs of vulnerable people.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no legal implications as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. "Sustainable Social Services for Wales - A Framework for Action" recognises the diversity of Wales, including its status as a bilingual nation.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Social services meets the following corporate objectives:
  • "To make the Vale a safe, healthy and enjoyable place in which individuals, children and families can live their lives to the full"; and
  • "To manage the Council's workforce, money and assets efficiently and effectively in order to maximise its ability to achieve it service aims."

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. These are matters for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. There are no matters in this report which relate to an individual ward.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health).

Background Papers

Scrutiny Committee Report: 7th November, 2013: Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill

Scrutiny Committee Report 14th January, 2014: Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action

Scrutiny Committee Report 13th April 2015: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 15th June 2015: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 13th July 2015: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 8th September 2015: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 5th October 2015: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 30th November 2015: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 4th January 2016: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Scrutiny Committee Report 1st February 2016: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Contact Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services