Wales should have own social care laws, says government

The government has backed separate adult social care laws for England and Wales, to enable further divergence of the two countries' social care systems in the future.

The government has backed separate adult social care laws for England and Wales, to enable further divergence of the two countries’ social care systems in the future.

In its submission to the Law Commission’s review of adult social care law the government said separate statutes would make the law clearer in future if there is more divergence in social care policy between England and Wales.

However, it said this issue would need to be considered in the light of a referendum on further powers for the Welsh Assembly, set for early 2011.

Backing separate statutes places the government at odds with the recommendations of the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru. In its own submission to the commission, ADSS Cymru said: “In principle, we support the need for a single adult social care statute for England and Wales as primary legislation to set out the duties imposed and powers conferred on local authorities.”

The Welsh Assembly Government said it was awaiting the results of three separate reviews of social care in Wales before deciding whether a separate statute was necessary, in its response to the cmomission.

The Law Commission is reviewing all adult social care laws with the view to codifying them into a single statute. It is due to publish its final report in April 2011.

In its response, the UK government also said it would like to see fewer duties imposed on councils, while it also supported giving adult social services departments the ability to assess 16 and 17 year olds to improve transition.

There was, however, no backing for putting adult safeguarding boards on a statutory footing, a policy endorsed by the Labour predecessor earlier this year but never implemented. The proposal was considered long overdue to give adult safeguarding boards more teeth in protecting vulnerable adults.

The coalition merely said it was still considering this issue and wished to see others’ responses.

On carers’ assessments, the government said these should be conducted along with an assessment for the cared for person.

However, it stopped short of backing proposals to impose a duty on councils to assess carers who appear to have a caring role where needs could be met by carers services or services for the cared for person. The government said it would need to consider the resource implications of such a duty as well as experience on the ground.

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