Legislation

Participation Cymru recently attended a workshop at the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales offices (OPCW). The workshop looked at a range of scenarios that affect older people and how the new Social Services and Well Being (Wales) Bill would impact on their situation, would it make it better, worse or have no impact?

ImageThe majority of people at the workshop were in agreement that the new Bill was definitely well-intentioned but when you try to apply a piece of legislation like this one to someone’s life, it’s very difficult to see how exactly it will help them.

This Bill, like many others, is very long and the Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies it is even longer. In fact many people I’ve spoken with about it have said that it ‘weighed them down’ (in more ways than one!). The workshop made me think about legislation in the wider sense and if law-making compares to citizen empowerment. Technically, it doesn’t.

So instead, is legislation there to protect people? In a sense: yes. The Social Services and Well-Being Bill aims to protect social service users and carers, ensuring that their needs are met and their voice is heard. Other pieces of legislation in Wales and the UK are also there to protect people, our property or possessions.Image

This leads to a philosophical question: do we need protection before we can feel empowered? Does this protection have to be legal? Or should we instead rely on the common sense of service providers to offer the required service no-matter-what, eliminating the need for a lengthy legal document?

No person who we’ve spoken to has ever said that what they really want or need is new piece of legislation”.

I completely agree – the people of Wales need access to good public services that meet their needs, they don’t need legislation to tell a service provider what they should be doing anyway.

A simple way of putting this point across is: The reason that I don’t go out tomorrow and rob a bank is because I think stealing is immoral and selfish, not because I want to avoid punishment or because there is a law that says I shouldn’t. I am empowered by my own decision.

–         Sarah

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4 thoughts on “Legislation

  1. Good Practice Exchange

    Very interesting post, and intriguing to think about how services would be run without legislation. Without minimum requirements would austerity reduce services to beyond the currently required levels? Would this increase the postcode lottery? Although that still exists under the current system. Lots to ponder.

    Reply
    1. Participation Cymru Post author

      Interesting questions, maybe I was applying this post to an “ideal world” where a good service is, by definition what citizens really need! Language is a fascinating part of legislation, I know the language in this Bill was mentioned by respondents to the committee inquiry – in particular the use of the word “should”. I wonder if setting ‘minimum requirements’ could result in providers only every meeting the minimum requirements and never exceeding them, even where there is room for improvement. We will have to see what happens after the Bill is implemented… Watch this space…

      Reply
      1. Good Practice Exchange

        Very good point about only meeting minimum requirements there. I shall watch this space, and I look forward to learning more from you about how participation is relating to Welsh social services. Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Summertime and the blogging is easy | weeklyblogclub

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