DURING debates at the Senedd on the Welsh Government’s new Social Services and Wellbeing bill, I was delighted that the Deputy Minister accepted my key amendment on advocacy services.
The Government’s initial proposals would have allowed Welsh local authorities to charge for those services if they wished.
Many third sector organisations came out strongly against allowing charges for advocacy because it would have created inequality. It would have become a barrier for people who needed access to social services.
It was vital that we ensured that people were enabled to have a voice and can take back some control over their lives. If they were denied that due to the barriers presented by charging for services, it would have become a human rights issue.
I’m pleased that this will now become law and I’m grateful for the support of the Older Person’s Commissioner and organisations such as Age Cymru.
On the issue of fostering, I’m pleased that local authorities, as a result of my amendment, are likely to be allowed to support young people in their care up to the age of 22 – providing the individual and foster carer agrees.
More and more young people are remaining at home for longer these days – often because they cannot afford to move out because of housing costs.
It would be wrong for young people in the care of the state to be forced out from the age of 18 – they should not be treated any differently than anyone else. This is all about the state being a good parent and the costs involved are not forecast to be substantial.
• Last week Natural Resources Wales came out strongly against the Welsh Government’s proposals for an M4 relief road saying there was “no clear policy rationale” for pursuing it.
My view remains that improving the existing A48 corridor would not only be a cheaper but certainly less environmentally damaging alternative to a M4 mark two along with public transport improvements. And how can spendingsb £1bn on a road which goes across the beautiful Gwent Levels be justified?
• I took the opportunity on Valentine’s Day to visit the British Heart Foundation shop in Pontypool.
During February BHF ran up the Ramp up the Reds campaign with people invited to buy a heart-shaped love note and put it up in the window. In fact, one young lady put up a note proposing to her boyfriend and he put another accepting. Very romantic.