Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act which received Royal Assent on 18 January 2016 provides the statutory framework for the regulation and inspection of social care and the regulation of the social care workforce. This legislation has several purposes:
- to establish a regulatory regime which is consistent with the changes which are being delivered by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
- to contribute to more effective public services by creating a regulatory regime which enables and empowers both citizens and service professionals
- to provide a robust and meaningful response to the clear lessons which have been learnt from the exposure of failures in the system – most recently the Flynn Review
- to rename the Care Council for Wales as Social Care Wales and confer new powers in respect of service improvement by April 2017.
I expect the Act to be implemented by April 2019. To achieve this it will be necessary to deliver the significant suite of subordinate legislation which flows from the act and to ensure that both the service regulator and the workforce regulator have robust transition plans in place to deliver these changes.
The new system of workforce regulation established by the act is intended to be implemented and operational by April 2017. To achieve this all workforce regulations will have a coming into force date of April 2017. The new system of service regulation and inspection established by the act is planned to be implemented and operational by April 2019. To achieve this all service regulations will have a coming into force date of April 2018 in order to allow sufficient time for the new system to be established.
Both the Care Council for Wales and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales are focusing on transition planning in order to achieve the necessary organisational changes which will underpin the effective delivery of this legislation. A Transition to Social Care Wales Advisory Panel has been established in order to develop a transition and communications plan to Social Care Wales for my consideration by March this year.
A statement of policy intent was published when this legislation was introduced to the National Assembly last year. It set out broad proposals for exercising the subordinate legislation-making powers within the act. Building upon this the regulations under this act will be developed in 2 overlapping phases with all the relevant workforce regulations coming into force by April 2017 and all the relevant service regulations coming into force by April 2018. There is a further group of powers where there is no requirement to make regulations at present but where the regulation-making power has been taken to provide for flexibility in the system to respond to future changes. Details are set out in the attached schedule.
The first phase of regulations will focus on some of the processes underpinning the new system of service regulation (registration as a service provider, variation of registration, service provider annual returns, and information to be included in notifications to local authorities). This first phase will also include the development of regulations required to achieve the new system of workforce regulation and the regulations relating to the requirements for the annual reports by directors of social services.
Stakeholder Technical Groups have been established with separate groups for service regulation and workforce regulation to achieve broad representation across the sector. They will begin work early next month to help inform the content of regulations in the first phase. Beyond this it is envisaged that the membership of these groups will vary with others engaging as the focus of discussion moves to different policy areas.
It is intended that the first phase of legislation will be made available for public consultation this summer. The workforce regulations and the regulations relating to the requirements for the annual reports by directors of social services can then be laid before the National Assembly and debated in plenary (for those which are subject to the affirmative process) to achieve a coming into force date of 1 April 2017. The service regulations which have been included in the first phase can then be laid with the second phase of regulations in order to achieve a coming into force date of 1 April 2018.
The second phase of regulations will focus on the requirements and standards for service providers and responsible individuals and offences arising out of the requirements imposed on these persons. It will encompass regulations relating to the requirements on local authorities under the act and new requirements on the Welsh Ministers. It will also include regulations defining advocacy services. This group of regulations deals with complex issues which will be critical to the new system of regulation and inspection. It is intended that work on the second phase should therefore begin in spring 2016 so as to allow a longer period for their development and meaningful engagement. With that timetable the draft regulations would be available for public consultation by May 2017. The regulations in the second phase would be laid before the National Assembly and, where required be debated in plenary, in order to achieve a coming into force date of 1 April 2018.
My officials will make an early start on the preparatory work for the regulations which define regulated advocacy services and which are to be developed as part of the second phase. They will build on the work undertaken with stakeholders to co-produce the Code of Practice on advocacy in order to develop proposals which can be tested as part of the phase one public consultation during the summer of 2016.
The regulations relating to local market stability reports are also to be developed as part of the second phase and will come into force in April 2018. My officials will be engaging with local authorities at an early stage in order that they may begin to prepare for the implementation of these regulations.