The Welsh Office has announced the launch of a regulatory body for nursing and residential homes in a white paper on the future of social services.

The white paper says the move will need 'very careful handling' and the Welsh Office will consult widely on the best way to structure the new organisation.

Welsh secretary Alun Michael said the Welsh Assembly would provide an opportunity to 'think strategically' about social services in Wales. 'The white paper begins that process,' he said.

It proposes to change the law to allow health and social services to pool budgets and commission or provide services for each other. Health and social services will be made accountable for progress on joint working.

The Welsh Office also plans to tackle 'serious deficiencies in present services and disturbing variations in quality' in child and adolescent mental healthcare. An all-Wales strategy for these services should be complete by January.

A disability rights commission will be established to tackle discrimination against disabled people, while a long-term care charter will be developed to help users and carers check what services care agencies should be providing.

Social Services: building for the future. Stationery Office.£22.