The Care Bill explained
The Care Bill is of great significance and represents the greatest changes to social care law since the abolition of the Poor Law in the 1948 National Assistance Act. It is currently passing through its final stages in Parliament and will become law in September 2014.
The Bill aims to reform laws relating to care and support for adults and those relating to support for carers. The Bill mainly addresses issues protecting adults from abuse or neglect in setting new care standards. These changes apply to adults in England only.
Livability feels that overall the changes contained within the Care Bill are positive as regards disability assistance. It is clear that the changing demographics of the UK and the development of an ageing population necessitate legislative change. However, we are sceptical as to whether the reforms in the Bill can actually be implemented due to the lack of necessary funding available to the government at this time.
The Care and Support Alliance also feel this way and have called on the Chancellor George Osborne to make a commitment to invest in care ahead of this week’s budget announcement. Add your voice to their appeal through Twitter (expires 19th March): https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/9659-care-in-crisis
In the first of a series of reports on the adult care system (http://tinyurl.com/klz9m9p) the National Audit Office (NAO) has expressed similar concerns that the government cannot simultaneously raise social care requirements whilst decreasing funding. They cite the fact that whilst requirements of care have risen overall funding has fallen by 8% in real terms between 2010-2011 and 2012-2013.
Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow, who has been central to the Bill’s development, also said (http://tinyurl.com/kbnzku2) that although the Bill ‘will bring massive improvements, including a cap on care costs and a new national eligibility criteria…there is still one thing missing, and that’s a government commitment to ensure that the social care system is properly funded.’ Overall, however, the minister, along with his Lib Dem colleagues is far more optimistic than those viewing the Bill from the outside and from a viewpoint of practical implementation (http://tinyurl.com/pad23y6).
In the text below we aim to outline the key aspects of the Care Bill since these changes will directly affect certain Livability users and support workers. The Bill outline has been simplified but if you wish to find further details please follow the appropriate links at the bottom of the page.
Care Bill Summary
The Care Bill is broken down into separate parts; below we have included Parts 1 & 2 as these are the most relevant to Livability users and workers. Part 1 relates to Care and Support and Part 2 relates to Care Standards. We have included the relevant clause numbers beside each section if you wish to check the details yourself.
Part 1. Care and Support
This describes local authorities’ broader care and support role towards the whole local community and sets out the universal services which should be provided for everyone, with the aim of reducing needs.
Preventing need for care and support (Clause 2)
- If people are ineligible for local care and support this measure will enable them to access ‘universal services’. This only obliges the local authority to consider someone for universal services and they do not have to provide them.
National Minimum Eligibility Threshold (Clauses 13, 15 & 16)
- This sets a new minimum limit on the amount of support local authorities are to provide. Social care cost cap on costs of £72,000 or £123,000 for means tested support.
Safeguarding (Clauses 42-47)
- This requires organisations to provide Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs) with information, if they desire it. The SABs will have the power of access ‘for confidential interview’. For this process to occur however authorisation from a court would first have to be required.
Market Oversight (Clause 5)
- This policy aims to assist in facilitating the orderly exit of a provider from the market. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be allowed to request information to be shared with local authorities and, if necessary, order an independent business review if a care provider is seen to be failing.
Transition for children to adult care (Clauses 58-66)
- If a child or carer is likely to have needs when they turn 18 the local authority must assess them if it considers there is ‘significant benefit’ to the individual in doing so. This can happen regardless of whether the child or individual currently receives any services or requests an assessment. The individual should receive advice about what can be done to meet the needs they are likely to have, as well as what they can do to prevent or delay the development of needs.
Part 2, Care standards
This deals with the Government’s response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, led by Robert Francis QC.
Health and social care ratings (Clause 89)
- The government has asked CQC to provide a new independent system of performance ratings which will take place in the Summer of 2014 with all services having a rating by March 2016.
Clampdown on registered providers (Clauses 85 & 90-92)
- The government aim to close the ‘s19 loophole’ which should prevent service providers from deregistering with CQC after the beginning of enforcement proceedings. This should allow CQC to take effective action against providers when the quality of their care is called into question. The Police and Crown Prosecution Service will also be able to investigate cases where there is a suspicion that information has been produced which is deliberately misleading.
Detailed documents relating to the Bill: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/care/documents.html