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Social services provision ‘should be the same across Wales’

The rules for deciding which social services people are eligible for should be the same across Wales, a report to ministers has said.

It found “striking variation” in what service users can expect in different parts of the country.

It said national eligibility criteria for care should be introduced as part of recommendations for reforming the way social services are delivered.

The independent commission on social services said more personalised services could be better for the recipients and more efficient.

Services should be tailored to meet people’s individual needs, it said, with users getting the advice necessary to make informed decisions about their care.

The report, From Vision to Action, said local councils should retain their responsibility for social services.

To avoid an expensive and disruptive shake-up, services should be organised within the seven local health board areas that run the NHS, it said.

It warned of a new generation of service users who will be articulate, well-informed and with a greater sense of being consumers who demand high quality services.

The report comes as the Assembly Government considers how services can cater to an ageing population at a time of financial pressure.

It warned that by 2031, the number of people with heart disease is predicted to rise from 230,000 to 330,000 and those with arthritis from around 310,000 to 420,000.

Deputy social services minister Gwenda Thomas thanked the commission’s chairman, Prof Geoffrey Pearson.

She said: “I am particularly pleased that the commission confirms the case for social services as an integrated service located in, and led by, local government.

“I believe that this provides the overall context for local government services.

“The recommendations – and the outcome of other reviews I have commissioned into workforce and safeguarding children and vulnerable adults – will inform the development of our social services White Paper next year.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Given the challenging financial climate that we face following the savage cuts imposed on Wales by the UK Government, it is important that public services look to work together to ensure we get more for our money.

“The findings of this report chime with what we are trying to deliver, fostering and developing closer working to sustain and improve local services.

“It is essential that we share resources and make the best use of the skills and expertise of the talented individuals that make up public services in Wales and remove artificial boundaries that can develop between organisations.”

 

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