Q10 Leanne Wood: What discussions has the First Minister held on the implications for Wales of the UK Government Green Paper 'Shaping the Future of Care Together’? OAQ(3)2328(FM)
The First Minister: That is for England. We will publish next month a Green Paper on the same subject in Wales. Our proposals will be set in the context of our overall approach to policy for older people, described last week in the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research as the most coherent long-term commitment to improving the position of older people of any administration in the United Kingdom in the last decade. That was Wales.
Leanne Wood: First Minister, as you know, I have raised concerns about the future of the attendance allowance and the disability living allowance with you and the Deputy Minister for Social Services. Despite claims that the disability living allowance is not under threat, Lord McKenzie of Luton, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said last week that no options were being ruled out and that all disability benefits were under consideration. Clearly, that has implications for people in Wales. In her letter to me, the Deputy Minister recognised that any plans to replace those benefits with a different system were likely to be met with considerable opposition from stakeholders in Wales. Can you confirm that the Welsh Government will listen closely to the concerns of organisations such as Age Concern, Help the Aged and the Royal National Institute of Blind People about these proposals? Will you confirm that the Welsh Government will oppose any plans from the UK Government that will reduce the incomes and the independence of disabled pensioners and other disabled adults in Wales?
The First Minister: The issue is that the attendance allowance, per se, on its own, is not a devolved matter. If the UK Government decides that it wants to change the attendance allowance, it will. The points that we have made already to the UK Government are that there is a greater degree of dependence on attendance allowance in Wales than in most areas and that how you integrate the attendance allowance with either NHS continuing care or local authority social care will be crucial to any proposals for modernisation. Therefore, when our Green Paper comes out in November—Gwenda Thomas will be the Minister who will publish it—it will provide an opportunity for a full consultation over a 12-week period, I guess, with all stakeholder organisations. To put it in context, there is an English Green Paper and our Green Paper and I am confident that ours will be far better because of the recent compliment from the IPPR on just this kind of issue—an integrated, coherent and holistic policy. However, it cannot be completely different from the English system. It will be a co-payment system. If that is what England is having, that is what we will have in Wales, but it will be far better integrated with what the NHS and local authorities do by way of continuing and social care.