In a groundbreaking new approach, the Deputy Minister will create a ‘citizen panel’ that will give the users and carers involved in social services a voice in the important strategic decisions taken at an all-Wales level.
The announcement was made during a major social services conference in Llandudno. The event, hosted by WLGA and ADSS, included the keynote address from the Deputy Minister during which she discussed the challenges ahead for the sector and the developments currently taking place and due to take place in the next 12 months.
The Deputy Minister said:
“The most important change we can make is to give users and carers a way to influence the really big decisions taken at an all-Wales level. In 2011 I set up a Partnership Forum which brings all the major stakeholders in social services together. Now the forum and I will be able to listen to the experiences and views of the most important people, the citizens who rely on these services every day.”
The Deputy Minister welcomed new local government members and emphasised the key role of local government in social services. She told the conference that social services are at the heart of local government, and councils have the scope to use their duties in community leadership and well being as powerful levers to bring about the changes needed to make social services sustainable into the future.
She also told the conference that a framework will be developed to monitor whether people are receiving better services and a new standards, performance and improvement team will be introduced to encourage sharing of good practice and excellence in social services.
The Deputy Minister then updated the conference on the forthcoming Social Services (Wales) Bill:
“I am grateful for the large number of responses to our recent consultation on the forthcoming Social Services (Wales) Bill. This is a significant achievement that indicates how much people value social services. The responses have given us a lot to think about and to ensure we get this vital piece of legislation right it has been agreed the Bill will be introduced to the National Assembly at the beginning of 2013. We must fully consider the important issues raised.
“We will publish a detailed response next month, but we have decided not to include the proposals for regulation and inspection of social care services and workforce which had originally planned to be included in the Bill. This will now be the basis of a White Paper next year, setting out proposals for a separate Bill on regulation.”