“Getting Social Businesses in on the Act” – Part 1 of 7

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act – New market opportunities for Welsh social businesses

1. Preamble

Social Business Wales exists to support social businesses to grow via strategies focused on developing products and services, diversify into markets and through collaboration. Its Market Development Advisers specifically look for opportunities to help our clients access new markets and market segments in order to grow their businesses. Social Business Wales is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre as part of Business Wales services.

We’ve embarked on an investigation to establish the most appropriate and accurate knowledge and information to assist social businesses secure new market opportunities from the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which switched on from the 6th April 2016.  Our aim is to provide insight on the routes and inroads to local authorities and their relevant partners, particularly the local health boards, for social businesses wanting to offer care and support services in line with the new Act.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 is a new framework encompassing clear principles that apply to how local authorities and their local health board partners ensure that people’s care and support needs are met, and in supporting people to achieve wellbeing. The implementation of the Act requires very significant changes in the way social services are planned, commissioned and delivered characterised by the five principles. People in the community – that’s you and me, and also you over there – may design and operate their own services.

Here’s the good news. In delivering the new Welsh law for improving the well-being of people who need care and support and of carers who need support, local authorities must act and develop the duty placed on them to promote social businesses. Local authorities and their partners must also promote people’s involvement at every level of planning, designing, promoting and operating services. Section 16 in the general duty of the Act will be an important element in the goal.

Section 16 concerns alternative models of care and support, alternative to a public sector provision or an independent/private sector provision. Alternative delivery models (ADMs) can provide additional opportunities in meeting people’s needs and well-being. Welsh Government expects more alternative models of care and support to be developed over time.

2. Background to the Act

The 2011 Welsh Government White Paper ‘Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action’ set out a new transformational vision for the sector grounded in offering the best possible outcomes for those who need care and support, ensuring that people have a stronger voice and real control over the services they receive, and delivering consistent, high-quality social services, which are sustainable for the future.

Much of this programme for change is encapsulated within the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The Act received Royal Assent in May 2014 and took effect from 6 April 2016. It creates a new legislative framework, bringing together and modernising the law for social services in Wales[i].

3. Brief overview of the Act

The overarching purpose of the act is to improve services extending across a wide range of activities that help people who have care and support needs to secure their well-being. This is no longer just the function of local authorities but now involves partnerships with local health boards and other relevant service providers such as social enterprises and co-operatives and crucially, Welsh citizens.

The legal framework aims to modernise social services law based on a set of five clear principles that apply through the eleven parts of the Act to transform social services. The key groups of citizens that the Act is focused on are:

  • Adults
  • Children
  • Carers.

The Act puts in place the legislative framework to support the transformation of the way people’s needs for care and support are met and make social services in Wales sustainable. There are a number of key principles and themes that underpin the Act. They are:

  • Focus on people – ensuring people have a voice and control over their care and support to support them to achieve the outcomes important to them and also ensuring services are designed and developed around people.
  • Well-being – measuring success in relation to outcomes for people rather than process.
  • Prevention and early intervention – delivering a preventative and early intervention approach to minimise the escalation of need and dependency on statutory services.
  • Partnership and integration – effective cooperation and partnership working between all agencies and organisations, including health, to best meet the needs of people.
  • Accessibility – improving the information and advice available to people and ensuring that everyone, irrespective of their needs, is able to access that information.
  • New service models – the development of new and innovative models of service delivery, particularly those that involve service users themselves.

Over the following week a series of short blogs will highlight a number of routes for you into the Act and into new business opportunities. Tomorrow we’ll discuss well-being and how it relates to social businesses.

[i] Extract from ‘The national statement of joint working explains the broad responsibilities of key national organisations in working together towards the commencement of the Act on 6 April 2016 – CCW Learning Hub


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