The Care Bill is back and politicians are starting to listen

The Care Bill returns to the House of Lords tomorrow.

Social care has been a major focus of Scope’s collaborative campaigning work in the past year because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform a care system in crisis.

We know that thousands of disabled people are struggling to get the support they need to live independently, without access to basic care to help them eat, wash properly and leave their homes.

Now 83% of councils have set the threshold for care at a higher level and they expect things to get worse.

We have tried to be as vocal as possible on the issues we know that disabled people care most about – changes to Disability Living Allowancethe impact of the cutsthe flawed Work Capability Assessment, support for disabled children, attitudes to disability – to create public pressure and hold the Government to account.

With the Care Bill back in the Lords, social care is back on the agenda. We have been working closely with disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of over 70 organisations, to make sure that the system supports those who need it.

The good news is that politicians are starting to listen to us.

In the summer, the Chancellor found £3.8bn in June’s spending review to start to tackle the crisis. When nearly everything else was being cut, social care was one of the only areas to benefit from additional funding.

We have been campaigning hard so that those who need it most have access to an independent advocate. Again, the Government has listened to and acted on these concerns.

Other welcome changes to the Care Bill include the requirement that assessments must be carried out by people with specialist expertise in certain circumstances, and that councils must take on board the importance of promoting well-being when commissioning services.

We have all fought hard for these wins.

It has been an incredibly difficult climate for charities of all kinds to campaign effectively – not just disabled organisations, but all those affected by cuts.

We still have a long way to go on the Care Bill. But the wins above show how powerful it can be when disabled people and organisations large and small come together to get behind focused campaigns, which will result in real, tangible change.

But we know that the more people there are campaigning, and the bigger range of voices, the more likely we are to achieve change.

It doesn’t just have to be big charities – it can be people like Angela, whose one-woman Save Social Care petition has been supported by nearly 50,000 people and led her to Downing Street. Or the WOW Petition campaign challenging welfare reform which has been backed by over 60,000 people. It’s about the power of our combined impact.

There are many experienced, talented and innovative people out there, who we know we can learn from – and who don’t necessarily agree with us on everything.

That’s why we recently launched the Game Changers community, to crowd source the best ideas for our ambitious next campaign.  We want to hear people’s views and be challenged constructively.

So come add your voice and let’s get the much bigger change we all want – together.

The right to an independent life

Post from Alice Maynard, Chair of Scope

AliceDisabled people want to live independently in their community. We want to decide where we live, who we live with and how we go about our day.

In 2013, I think – I hope – most people would back that aspiration.

Unfortunately too often this doesn’t reflect the reality of disabled people’s lives, and this autumn we’re doing something about it.

Firstly, we’re going to be calling on the Government to be bold when it comes to reforming social care.

The current system is on its knees. The London School of Economics estimates that 69,000 disabled people who need support to live independently don’t get any. While, 40% of those lucky enough to get some support say it doesn’t meet basic needs like getting up, getting washed and dressed and getting out of the house. Yet Government plans, which will be debated by the Lords on 9 October, will shut 100,000 people out of the system altogether.

But if we want a bold response from the Government, we have to do more than shout from the sidelines. We have to show what’s possible by taking difficult decisions.

For example, we run care homes. We’ve taken a long, hard look at them all, and asked ourselves if they do enough to support disabled people to live independently in the community.

Staff do a great job, but many homes were opened in the 1970s, aren’t located in the heart of the community and are simply not set up to offer disabled people enough choice and control over their lives.

In the last five years, Scope has changed or closed ten of these services. We’re now proposing to change or close more over the next three years.

It’s the right thing to do. But it’s important we do it in the right way.

We tell the people most directly affected first, and before making a decision on a home, we consult with the people who live there, their families, staff and local authorities.

When we do change or close care homes, we will always do this sensitively and respectfully, supporting everyone affected by the changes to understand what they mean and what choices are available to them.

It’s very easy to demand that the Government makes difficult decisions. It’s much harder to make them yourself. Disabled people want to have choice and control over where and how they live. We think it’s right that the services we offer them make that possible.