Helping you understand Welsh law

What is devolved?

The National Assembly for Wales has power to pass laws in relation to social welfare including social services. See paragraph 15 in Part 1 of Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006, but note that there are certain exceptions from the National Assembly’s legislative competence. The excluded subjects are: child support, child trust funds, tax credits, child benefit and guardian’s allowance, social security, independent living funds, Motability, intercountry adoption, the UK Children’s Commissioner and family law and proceedings. The first Act of the National Assembly in this field is the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Between 2007 and 2011, the National Assembly could legislate by passing Measures, where the specific power to legislate on a topic was conferred by Order in Council made under the Government of Wales Act 2006 (known as legislative competence orders or LCOs). A number of LCOs and Measures relating to social care were made.

On the coming into force of the Government of Wales Act 1998 on 1 July 1999, the power to make regulations and the other powers of the Secretary of State under the principal statutes relating to social services were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales. On the coming into force of the Government of Wales Act 2006, most of the powers were further transferred to the Welsh Ministers. Power to make new subordinate legislation and power to revise existing subordinate legislation under those statutes lies with the Welsh Ministers.

The social care statutes enacted by the UK Parliament prior to the commencement in May 2007 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and still in force in relation to Wales, should be read with care as a result of the way in which UK central government functions were devolved to Wales. References to ‘the Secretary of State’ will in most, but not all, cases now mean ‘the Welsh Ministers’ in relation to Wales as a result of transfer of functions orders made under the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the further transfer of functions made by Schedule 11 to the Government of Wales Act 2006. Also, where functions were conferred on the National Assembly expressly in Acts of the UK Parliament between 1999 and 2007, the provisions enacting those functions should be read as referring to ‘the Welsh Ministers’ by virtue of the transfer of National Assembly functions by Schedule 11 to the Government of Wales Act 2006.

In addition, the function of providing a welfare advice service to the family courts was devolved to Wales in the Children Act 2004. This function is performed in Wales by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) Cymru, an arm of the Welsh Government. The law which governs how the functions of providing welfare advice and providing representation for children in the family courts are to be carried out is contained in England and Wales family law statutes and rules of court. The principal family law statutes are the Children Act 1989 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

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