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Assembly Member briefing - Plenary debate on the General Principles of the Well-being of Future generations (Wales) Bill

by Beth Evans 10 December 2014
Plenary Debate on the General Principles of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill - National Assembly for Wales Tuesday 9th December 2014 
The Wales Carers Alliance provided written and oral evidence to the Environment and Sustainability Committee’s Stage 1 scrutiny of the Well-being of Future Generations Bill, which will be the third piece of Welsh legislation covering strategic planning for carers since 2012. 
Far more unpaid carers deal with health services than social care, which is why it is so important to maintain the legal duty on health bodies for carers. It is equally vital to maintain the detail of the plans and strategies currently required by the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure 2010. The Measure, which came into force in 2012, for the first time ever, provided a clear joint planning mechanism, with health as the lead agency, to work with partners to develop local information strategies to ensure carers receive appropriate information and advice. The detail of the strategies include amongst other things: identification of carers, the provision of information, training of front-line staff, engagement with GPs and consultation with carers. 
The Alliance is very concerned that the Bill will further dilute existing legal duties on Health Boards and Trusts in Wales for carers, following the planned repeal of the Carers Measure by the Social Service and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The new Bill, as it currently stands, will itself repeal sec.14.3 of the SSWB Act which covers strategic planning for carers and was only introduced as a government amendment as late as January this year. 
The Well-being of Future Generations Bill contains only one reference to carers as part of the population assessments required in sec.36. The Alliance believes that this inconsistent and incoherent approach to law making has led to an incremental dilution of the legal duties on public bodies, in particular health, in relation to strategic planning for carers.
The Environment and Sustainability Committee Stage 1 report  raises similar concerns in regards to carers and the role of health bodies in the Bill.
Stating that 
192. Despite reassurances from the Minister, we share the concerns of the stakeholders that schedule 4 removes express provisions in other legislation, often to replace these with only implicit provision in the Bill. We are particularly concerned given evidence highlighting the variable nature of current provision through the voluntary LSB / Single Integrated Plan approach.
193. We believe that a number of amendments and repeals set out in schedule 4, coupled with the apparent intention that PSBs should have significant local discretion, create a risk that consideration of key issues such as ‘health in all policies’ and the needs of carers, children and young people will be less effective. While we welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement that there may be indirect consequences from the Bill, we regret that he was not more specific in suggesting a solution.
195. We are also concerned that provisions of recent legislation are being amended almost immediately after enactment. This is particularly true of the carer sector where provisions of a 2010 Measure were replaced by section 14(3) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which would in turn be repealed by this Bill before section 14 has even entered into force.
196. We are concerned that this shows a lack of strategic approach to legislation in key areas of social policy. We believe that this risks generating confusion among relevant bodies and representative groups, but also inadvertently creating gaps in provision in these key areas.
We would also draw Members attention to the Committee’s recommendations 29 and 30.
Recommendation 29: We recommend that the Welsh Government reviews schedule 4 and the approach to local well-being planning, particularly in relation to the ‘health in all policies’ approach and the needs of carers, children and young people, to ensure that a sufficiently robust approach to these issues is achieved in the planning process. 
Recommendation 30: We recommend that the Welsh Government considers whether express reference to the ‘health in all policies’ approach and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child should be included in the Bill and make clear how the issues raised by stakeholders will be addressed in delivery of the Bill.
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