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Historic social services debate continues
The second of two five-hour debates on the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill took place yesterday (Tuesday 11 February).
This bill aims to transform how social care is delivered in Wales and is an opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. It is the largest and most complex law ever considered by the National Assembly.
The amendments to be considered include advocacy, post 18 placements for care leavers as well as definitions in the bill which will help local authorities and other partners to safeguard people in need of care and support. These amendments are amongst some 300 tabled by the Government and other parties at this stage of scrutiny.
Speaking ahead of the debate Deputy Minister Gwenda Thomas said:
“I welcome the scrutiny of this important Bill, so in addition to today’s session I will be asking the Assembly to consider a report stage. This will provide a further opportunity to consider changes ahead of the final vote on the bill which is due to take place in the spring.
“An essential feature of the legislative system we have in Wales is that it contains a number of scrutiny stages. The time between those stages allows the Government and all parties to reflect on what they have heard through evidence and representations made.
“In considering what to do with amendments we must strike a balance between maintaining coherence and taking on board improvements. This debate will show that we are listening.
“For example, I have previously made it clear that I saw the potential to charge for the new advocacy services in certain circumstances as both necessary and appropriate. However, I have been keen to take into account the views of stakeholders including the Commissioner for Older People, Barnardos, Age Cymru and the Social Care and Wellbeing Alliance. I have also listened to the representations I have received from members.
“On the basis of this, I have decided it is appropriate to reconsider the issue of charging and would encourage members to support amendment 78A, tabled by Lindsay Whittle AM in January. A vote in favour of that amendment will mean that the charging provisions will be removed from the new advocacy section, which I hope will be inserted through amendment 78.
“I also look forward to the debate on including a definition of neglect in the bill, which William Graham AM has brought back in revised form, whilst I hope that the Assembly sees fit to agree the government’s amendments on post-18 placements for care leavers.
“It is important this is added to the support for care leavers already provided in the bill and to the transition planning already under way through the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme which will be implemented across Wales later this year.”