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Call for Welsh social services bill to include legal requirements on employers

BASW Cymru has urged the Welsh government to offer the people who use social services the additional safeguard of ensuring that the employers of social workers are legally required to give adequate supervision and support for their staff.

Speaking as the government launched a three-month public consultation on the Social Services (Wales) Bill, which proposed a raft of measures for services users, BASW Cymru manager Robin Moulster said the Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers, which is currently not legally binding, should be given the same statutory status as the code for employees. He urged social workers to lobby for the measure, currently not contained in the draft legislation, during the consultation period.

The draft Bill proposes the extension of direct payments to more service users, as well as a range of measures designed to end the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ where provision is dependent on the area of the country in which someone lives. Launching the Bill the deputy minister for health and social services Gwenda Thomas outlined plans for national eligibility criteria and portable assessments which people can take from one part of Wales to another without having to be re-assessed.

Mr Moulster welcomed much of the Bill but cautioned against dismissing altogether the benefits of local care policies. “I accept that regionalisation of services can be beneficial but not at any cost as the needs of individuals and communities vary from area to area – a ‘one size fits all’ approach is potentially damaging and costly.”

The Bill also contains proposals to require local authorities to provide information to carers on their rights and the services available to them in their local areas, and for the establishment of a national adoption service to improve the outcomes of child placements.

BASW Cymru said the plan for a Wales-wide adoption service was sensible in principle but was “fraught with difficulties”. Mr Moulster said: “There are some regional examples of this already happening but agreements of policies and priorities are often difficult when two or more local authorities are involved, and with 22 local authorities in Wales there will be significant issues to manage.”

The consultation period is now underway and will run until the 1 June 2012. Three consultation events are being staged later this month, in Cardiff (22 March), Llanelli (27 March) and Llandudno (29 March).

The Bill follows publication last year of a white paper, Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action, in which much of the draft legislation was trailed.

To find out more about the consultation, visit http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/?lang=en

To share your comments with BASW Cymru for feeding into the consultation process, please email r.moulster@basw.co.uk

 

If implemented the Bill will:
• allow Welsh ministers to consider extending the range of services available by direct payments, meaning people will have more control over the services they use;

• introduce national eligibility criteria and ensure people are assessed on what they need, rather than just on what services are available locally;

• introduce portable assessments, which means people will be entitled to similar services if they move from one part of Wales to another without having their needs re-assessed if they haven’t changed;

• require local authorities to provide information to carers on their rights and the services available to them in their local areas;

• create a national adoption service to improve the outcomes of child placements.