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This was the first meeting attended by Julie Morgan, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services. There had been a delay in calling this meeting due to the possibility of publication of the Health Social Care and Sport Committee’s report, arising from its Inquiry into the Social Services and Well-being Act and its impact on carers. (This was now expected before early summer 2019).

The Deputy Minister emphasised the importance of carers in her portfolio and welcomed the input and advice of an advisory group as a key mechanism to provide feedback to Welsh Ministers. She also announced her objective that a new national plan for carers should be developed and published in 2020.

Members discussed the identification of carers, including: supporting them to self-identify; how to help carers’ understand their rights; the importance of considering existing research and data; how other sectors e.g. the housing sector can also affect carers lives and be in a position to support them; the use of information, advice and assistance services; the different terminology around carers; the carers’ needs assessment process; and the needs of young carers.

Officials updated members about the Integrated Care Fund (ICF) and related guidance including the recent consultation to update Part 9 of the 2014 Act which added education sector representation.

Officials were reviewing all of the Regional Partnership Board (RPB) investment plans submitted for 2019-20 ICF support. The guidance issued for 2019-20 had clarified the need for improved support for carers, and Welsh Government had asked RPBs for more information around their proposed expenditure, where carers are identified as the primary beneficiary. Welsh Government confirmed it would produce an annual report for ICF and include case studies as well as a mid-term evaluation.

There was an update on discussions regarding the future funding for social care. The UK Spending review 2020-21 was due shortly and Welsh Ministers had formed a committee looking at the possible use of new Welsh tax raising powers to fund future social care in Wales.

There was a brief activity update from the All Wales Forum for Parents and Carers, then Carers Trust Wales regarding their new projects in 2019-20, which are being funded by Welsh Government to help support the work of the MAG. Members discussed expanding the MAG activity into two areas – the first to engage with RPBs as identified by All Wales Forum; and the second activity by Carers Trust Wales to create a new Engagement and Accountability group that would work with the MAG.

Members asked about the potential timescale for the production of a new carers’ national plan. Welsh Government advised that working with the MAG, it would need to establish core content and direction for a new plan by spring 2020.

Action points

  • the All Wales Forum would contact the members regarding RPBs and their existing carers’ channels of communication, to map these and explore where their new project to improve carers ability to engage with the work of the RPBs, could best add value. The secretariat would create an issues log to capture ideas which might not be feasible in the near future but might have potential if the wider funding environment changes.