Today has seen the publication of the literature review by the study team of academics from the University of South Wales and Swansea, Bangor and Cardiff Universities relating to the evaluation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. I am using this opportunity to provide you with a further update on the evaluation and set out our future plans.
Covid-19 has had a significant impact on all aspects of Health and Social Care. At the outbreak of the pandemic Welsh Government made a decision to pause the evaluation to allow necessary resources to continue to be allocated to areas most at need. I recognise that there is still some way to go in response to the pandemic however it is also important that we continue to understand the impact of our legislation so we can continue to learn and to improve. It is essential that all individuals in need of care and support and all carers in need of support are able to access the best possible provision to ensure that they are able to achieve what matters most to them. Today, therefore, I am announcing:
- Restarting of the evaluation – Welsh Government made a conscious decision to pause the evaluation in March to ensure resources could be allocated to the pandemic. As we are now moving towards a focus on stabilisation and reconstruction, I am proposing that from September the evaluation will formally restart. This will involve a wide range of stakeholders engaging with the study team to help us to understand the impact that the legislation is having on the social care sector and on the individuals in Wales who are in need of care and support, which will be studied in the next phase of the team’s work.
- An additional strand to the evaluation which will focus on the impacts of Covid-19 on the legislation – The pandemic has had a significant impact on social care and it is important that we understand what impact this has had on the implementation and impact of the legislation. I have asked the evaluation team to consider this, with early findings to be presented to me by January 2021.
- An extension to the evaluation – Given the necessary pause and the additional strand of work that I have asked the evaluation team to take forward, I have agreed a one-year extension to the existing contract. Not only will this allow the necessary time to complete the work, but it will also allow for a longer-term impact assessment which will give us a more robust understanding of the impact the Act is having. The evaluation will now continue until October 2022. The final report, including recommendations, will be published in autumn 2022, however, a number of key interim reports will also be published between now and then that will provide us with regular updates on the latest findings regarding the implementation and impact of the legislation.
The evaluation will be crucial to us understanding the impact of our legislation. I know many of you have dedicated time and resource to support us with this important piece of work and I would like to thank you for your participation. There is still some way to go in order for us to truly consider the difference we are making. Therefore, I would like to encourage the sector to continue to be involved, to work with the evaluation team and to help us improve the lives of individuals across the whole of Wales.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.