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Significant changes required if Social Services Bill is to be a success – Kirsty Williams

2013 Mehefin 18 11:58 AM

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has warned the Welsh Labour Government that unless significant changes are made to the Social Services and Well-being Bill, it risks being a huge disappointment to many people who rely on social services in Wales.

Kirsty Williams has raised concerns about the lack of detail on how the reforms will work and who will be eligible for what kind of help. Kirsty Williams has also highlighted the lack of financial information contained in the bill, leaving local authorities in the dark about how much they will have to spend on social care.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the Welsh Labour Government to provide more detail to Assembly Members and third sector organisations who represent the thousands of people in Wales who rely on social care.

Kirsty Williams AM said:

"The Social Services and Well-being bill is hugely important and will affect the lives of many people across the whole of Wales. Yet, it is impossible to tell, from the way in which the legislation is currently written, who will be eligible for social services, because that is not clearly defined in the bill. The Welsh Labour Government is asking Assembly Members to vote for a piece of legislation when we are not clear as to whom the legislation will affect, and what the effect of it will be on individuals who need these services.

"The First Minister has confirmed he has no plans to reveal who this bill will affect until after it has been passed. It is unclear whether this is because the Welsh Government just won't reveal this information or because they themselves have no idea who it will affect.

"First Minister also continues to maintain that the Bill will be cost neutral, yet the Welsh Local Government Association has clearly stated this can't be the case. There are going to be new duties placed on people and local authorities and yet there is no clarity on how that will be funded. After all, without knowing the number of people who will be eligible for free social care, how can it be possible to estimate the financial implications of it?

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats do not want to be obstructive, but I do not think that it is too much to ask for the Welsh Government to tell us what the effects of this legislation will be on individuals and where the eligibility criteria will be set and how much is it likely to cost.

"I am unwilling to vote for legislation when I don't know the full implications. I fully support the Welsh Government's intentions of streamlining the social care system and making it easier for people who rely on it to access services but this bill has the potential to be a huge disappointment unless the Welsh Labour Government makes significant changes."