Back to all news

We welcome progress on micro-enterprise provision in Wales

The Welsh Government has published a report on micro-care services engagement, as part of its first stage of policy development on micro-enterprise provision.

Summary statement

We welcome the Welsh Government’s commitment to finding a way forward to support this type of provision in Wales. As the leading expert in the development of community micro-enterprise in the UK we recognise the opportunities and challenges the report sets out.

We look forward to continuing to work with Welsh Government, Care Inspectorate Wales and partners to progress the development of a policy that resolves the challenges and clarifies the legal and regulatory framework around new models of care. This will mean that more people across Wales can have access to flexible, local support from micro-enterprises and have greater choice and control over their care and support.

“We see this report as a very positive step forward in helping more people to benefit from personalised care and support. It is also positive for local authorities, as the development of micro-enterprise can enable them to meet their duties under the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 around prevention, early intervention and maximising the strengths of people and communities.”

Pip Cannons, CEO

Our expertise and experience

Community Catalysts has a history and reputation as an expert in this field. We work with local authorities using a tried and tested approach to help people set up their own micro-enterprise to support people in their community safely and within the legal and regulatory frameworks of the country they work in. We, therefore, welcome this report and the progress towards the development of a national policy for micro-enterprise in Wales.

A key to our success has been strong partnerships with local authorities. We have worked with 8 of the 22 local authorities across Wales and in addition to that some Welsh councils have adopted our model and implemented the approach themselves. This has transformed the care landscape in the country, particularly in rural areas where people may have struggled to find appropriate care, and where, self-employment is an important route into work.

We were pleased to be asked to share our learning on micro-enterprise development with the Welsh Government. This learning is reflected in the report findings:

  • Micro-enterprises operate best when supported by local authorities and development organisations who have expertise in this specific field
  • Micro-enterprises reduce waiting lists by creating more capacity in the care system
  • The flexible and local nature of micro-enterprises allow for packages of care to be tailored in a way that traditional care packages struggle to achieve
  • Micro-enterprises give people more choice and control over how they use direct payments; employing others to support them is not their only option

Key considerations for shaping policy

A need for clarity on the legal and regulatory framework
The report found that local authorities did not all fully understand the legal and regulatory framework that applies to micro-enterprise provision.

Micro-enterprises fall within the exemptions set out in legislation (Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016 (RISCA) and can operate legally without being registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Community Catalysts has a commitment from, and working relationship with CIW to ensure micro-enterprises understand and adhere to the legal exemptions.

We know in areas where Community Catalysts is not operating that there can be less clarity on this, which can lead to the legislation being unfairly, or wrongly, applied as mentioned in the report. We welcome the recommendation to clarify the exemptions as set out in the Act.

The importance of quality standards
The report raises concerns about quality standards and assurance. It recognises the importance of the involvement of a development organisation like Community Catalysts to mitigate this. Our community micro-enterprise development programme in partnership with local authorities is designed around quality standards and assurance.

Our ‘Doing it Right Standards’ are integral to the advice that we provide to entrepreneurs to ensure that the support and services that they offer are safe, legal, personalised and sustainable. This includes a requirement for micro-enterprises to have appropriate insurance, training, DBS checks, policies and tax registration for the business they operate and the services they provide. And crucially that they understand the legislative and regulatory framework within which they operate; when they do or do not need to be registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales.

Use of consistent language
The report found that there is a range of terms used to describe support that is exempt from regulation which can cause confusion. Terms such as ‘micro-care worker,’ ‘micro-care service,’ ‘personal assistant’ and ‘self-employed personal assistant’ are used interchangeably.

Our programmes use ‘community micro-enterprise (CME)’ to define the people and groups that go through our programme. We use this language very intentionally. Some of these are sole traders providing care in people’s homes, but we also provide help to people setting up community support groups and businesses that constitute themselves in different ways.

Recognise the professionalism of the workforce
We want community micro-enterprise leaders to be recognised as professional providers of high-quality support. We welcome opportunities to have further discussions with Social Care Wales re this workforce having opportunities to register with them which would enable access to training and development. However, we caution against a requirement for all care workers to be professionally qualified, as this could exclude people from providing much needed support in their community within a personalised landscape (that doesn’t always include personal care.)

Adapt the registration process for micro-enterprises
We know that many of the micro-enterprises would like to grow and employ people but find the CIW registration process prohibitive. The challenge is that registration requires demonstration of management, as well as two people within the business. This can be difficult for sole traders. We welcome the consideration of an adapted framework for micro-enterprises registration.

Dispel the myths about recruitment
We would like to dispel any myths around the idea that masses of people are leaving agency jobs to set up micro-enterprises. This is not the case. Self-employment comes with its own challenges that are not for everyone.

In the report, care agencies raised concern about this issue but there was no evidence provided to support the concern. In discussions with people working to set up micro-enterprises in Wales we know that some people did leave agencies, however, in many of these cases the individuals were considering leaving the care workforce altogether to work in other sectors.

Our experience is that micro-enterprises provide a different way for people to stay in the care sector. And in many cases, it boosts workforce capacity by enabling people to re-enter the sector as they can work hours to suit them and their lifestyle. Community Catalysts has data to show the reasons why people set up community micro-enterprises and is happy to share this as part of policy development.

Include more voices
While people’s voices are included in the report, we would have liked to have heard more from those who are drawing on the support of community enterprises and are most impacted by potential policy changes. We recommend that any further policy development includes more voices of people who are receiving care from community micro-enterprises.

Community Catalysts is keen and willing to advise and / or be involved in further stages of policy development. If you would like to discuss, please contact: Tom Hughes, Project Manager (Wales):