Social services white paper for Wales
The deputy minister for social services in Wales has announced plans to publish a white paper on social services next year.
Gwenda Thomas told delegates at the National Social Services Conference in Llandudno that the paper would set out the future of services for the next 10 years.
She said the economic crisis would represent an “unprecedented” challenge to the country, along with the rest of the UK.
But she added: “I remain ambitious for social services in the face of the greatest funding crisis that any of us has ever faced…doing the same is not an option because services will just not be sustainable.”
Ms Thomas said that the government would be asking which services would be best delivered at local, regional or national level and would examine the findings of a number of major policy reviews, ahead of publication of the White Paper in the new year.
The reviews include one by the National Commission on Social Care, which was set up to look at how practice can be developed, collaboration and integration.
It is chaired by Geoffrey Pearson, professor of Criminology at Goldsmiths College, and members include chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence Julie Jones and Phil Robson, a retired director of Powys social services and education department.
Professor Pearson said the commission, which will report in November, had been gathering written and verbal evidence and had uncovered a number of issues, including a bias towards adult services.
“It is quite clear that the social services agenda in Wales is being driven by demographics, by people living longer and having much more complex needs, “ he said, adding :”Fewer people are speaking up on behalf of children. Children must not be forgotten. They are getting drowned out. “
He added that social services had not just a part to play in issues such as safeguarding and child protection but in child poverty.
Ms Thomas went on to say that the fiscal challenges would be a “major problem,” that would demand compromises on the health and social care interface.