Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services
In 2011, the Welsh Government published our ground-breaking strategy, Sustainable Social Services, which recognised that, without radical change, our current care and support systems would not be sustainable within the context of changing social demographics and raised public expectations over quality and safety, in a climate of on-going resource constraint.
We set ourselves an ambitious task to deliver the changes set out in Sustainable Social Services within the lifetime of one Assembly term. We know that to do this, we must reform the social services legislative framework. That work began when I laid our Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill before the National Assembly for Wales earlier this year. That Bill set out how the delivery of care and support will be centred on citizens having a greater voice and greater control, within a much more integrated system of care across Wales.
I am pleased, therefore, to announce the next step in our ambitious reform of social services with the publication today of our White Paper, “The Future of Regulation and Inspection of Care and Support in Wales,” which sets out our policy ambitions. The White Paper also describes how a renewed and revitalised regulation and inspection regime will ensure the new way of delivering care and support outlined in Sustainable Social Services will meet our expected standards and provide public assurance, as outlined in the Social Services and Well-being Bill.
A great deal has been achieved in driving up standards and professionalization of the care and support sector. I would therefore like to thank both of the regulators (the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales and the Care Council for Wales) for their hard work and dedication, which has set a firm foundation of standards for both workforce and care and support services that have improved public protection in Wales. However, the landscape is forever changing and we cannot simply rest on our laurels. We believe that the current system of regulation and inspection is doing well, but recognise that it requires greater flexibility to meet the demands and changes that are expected in the future – where people are living longer and expecting more from the public services that support them despite the current economic climate. As these expectations grow, so too does the service delivery models evolve and adapt to meet them. This can lead to new and innovative models but these in turn create anomalies within the existing system. We must ensure that where these new service models develop, they can be subjected to regulation. Therefore, without prompt action to provide the necessary flexibility to do so, we will soon find our regulatory arrangements become out of date and restrictive. The policies contained within this White Paper will, we believe, support the regulators to carry out their revised functions and duties to help achieve the ambitions that we have set for better care and support in Wales.
I will be launching the consultation today, which will close on 6 January 2014. A copy of the White Paper is enclosed with this written statement and will also be on the Welsh Government website.