The Care Bill returns to Parliament today and is soon expected to become law. The new Care Act will mark the biggest change to social care in the last sixty years. As the Bill reaches its final parliamentary stages what have we gained and what has not been addressed?
Commenting on the proposed changes Andrew Kaye, Head of Policy at Independent Age said:
“We are pleased the Government has made far-reaching changes to the Care Bill - modernising the law by introducing advocacy for people who need help to exercise their rights to social care and creating a new appeals system when people want to challenge decisions relating to their care.
Areas that still need more work include the contentious area of how an individual’s person budget should be calculated. Independent Age believes that any personal budget should reflect the cost of buying care from a local provider. Individuals shouldn’t lose out because local authorities are able to block buy care from care homes at a cheaper rate.
We have grave concerns that a national minimum eligibility threshold, set at the equivalent of "substantial" in today's Fair Access to Care Services framework, will continue to shut hundreds of thousands of older people out from the care and support they badly need to remain independent.
Under the Bill there is a legal duty for local authorities to provide information and advice about care, which we welcome. Independent Age has campaigned hard on this issue and we now want to see councils produce a comprehensive plan setting out how they will deliver information and advice services in their local area.
While all the right noises were made about prevention and the new "wellbeing principle", prioritising individual wellbeing above all other considerations, the debates revealed cracks in the government's plans. There is a danger councils will only provide the bare minimum.
We will continue to lobby hard for improved rules to better protect families against the injustice of paying unfair top-up fees when an elderly relative moves into residential care. We will now turn our attention to regulations and guidance, which local authorities will look over the next three months, as the real guide for making improvements in care and support. Unless we get these important bits of guidance right, the fine aspirations set out in the Care Bill will soon ring hollow”.
About Independent Age:
Founded 150 years ago, Independent Age is a growing charity helping older people across the UK and Ireland through the ‘A, B, C’ of advice, befriending and campaigning. We offer a free national telephone and email advice service focusing on social care, welfare benefits and befriending services, which is supported by a wide range of printed guides and factsheets. This is integrated with on-the-ground, local support, provided by a network of over 1,500 volunteers offering one-to-one and group befriending.