Disabled people let down by new social care plans for England
Published date: 11 Jul 2012 at 4:49PM
The Government has today released plans for the future of social care in England. Despite promises of a 'radical overhaul' and the announcement of some positive steps, the plans, set out in a Government White Paper, have largely been met with disappointment and criticised as 'empty rhetoric'.
The MS Society has joined over 65 charities in condemning the Government's decision to delay crucial decisions on funding, and the failure to outline a clear timetable for reform.
"Today’s announcement falls far short of the radical, tangible change needed to fix a system that’s denying vast numbers of people with multiple sclerosis the support they need," said Sue Farrington, Director at the MS Society. She continued:
"The plans signal a step in the right direction to address some of the concerns that we have been raising for years, such as the postcode lottery of care and the lack of clear information and advice, but many measures remain watered down, and are simply empty rhetoric without a concrete commitment on where the funding will come from to turn this into reality.
"The failure to have made any real progress towards implementing a new, sustainable funding system, and the blinkered refusal to acknowledge the current funding gap will see thousands of people denied the vital care they need or face devastating costs to pay for it.”
- The implementation of a new national minimum eligibility threshold from 2015 so that people will have the same access to care wherever they live in England
- Improving access to advice and information, including establishing a new national information website
- Extending the right to an assessment to more carers, and introducing clearer entitlements to support for carers
- Legislating to give people an entitlement to a personal budget to allow them to have more personalised care
- Developing a new code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers
- Increasing funding to support better integrated care and support
- Offering everyone the choice to defer payments for residential care so no-one will have to sell their home in their own lifetime to pay for care
Changing care packages
The Government has agreed people should be able to move to a different town / county and take their care package with them, but have only placed a duty on local authorities to continue to meet people’s assessed needs until they carry out a new assessment of their own.
This means local authorities will be allowed to change care packages if they provide a written explanation of why the result of any new assessment has changed.
More clarity needed
Similarly, while we welcome the announcement of a national eligibility threshold, to know if this is to have any significant impact more clarity is needed on the level at which this threshold will be set, to ensure that those with low lever needs do not continue to be neglected until they hit crisis point.
Finally, although the Government has accepted, in principle, implementing a cap on what people would have to pay towards their care needs and relaxing the means test, this is with the caveat that ‘if a way to pay for it can be found’.
A concrete decision on funding has been delayed until the next spending review. This is a major disappointment, and goes against the Coalition commitment, which stated “We understand the urgency of reforming the system of social care to provide much more control to individuals and their carers, and to ease the cost burden that they and their families face.”
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