Tag Archives: Britain Cares

Queen announces Care Bill – will reforms help disabled people?

Guest post from Caroline Hawkings who is a Senior Public Policy Advisor for Social Care at disability charity Scope.

When the draft Care and Support Bill was published last July, there was much to be pleased about. For example, for the first time social care law is modernised into one statute. Importantly, there is an overarching principle to promote ‘well-being’, rights of carers are strengthened and there are new duties on local authorities to provide information and advice.

Since July, Scope, along with other charities in the Care and Support Alliance, has been working hard with policy makers at the Department of Health to make changes to the draft Bill, such as pushing for specific provisions for advocacy. The crucial question is will this Bill be a new improved version, or will it merely be tinkering at the edges? We will have to wait and see, but on the key question of eligibility for social care, we won’t have any immediate answers.

Disabled people have repeatedly told us that whether or not they qualify for local authority funded care and support is their overriding concern. The Bill will establish a national eligibility threshold – a national minimum level at which local authorities must provide care and support. This should help to end the current variations between one local authority and another. However, there’s a danger that this threshold, which will be set through regulations, will be set too high. In future, care and support is likely to be available only for people whose needs are ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’, potentially denying social care to thousands of others whose independence will be severely curtailed.

Social care in crisis

We know that local councils have had to cut back on funding for social care, partly by reducing the numbers of disabled people who receive it. The Other Care Crisis (PDF), a joint report from Scope and four other disability charities using research from the London School of Economics estimates that 70,000 disabled people are already struggling to get by without social care and a further 30,000 more will be at risk of losing their support if the Government’s proposals go ahead as planned.

In a Scope survey, featured in the report, four in ten disabled people said that their basic needs, like washing once a day, getting dressed and getting out of the house, were not being met. We heard from people like Joshua who now has to ask strangers for help to put his shoes back on when they fall off and Michelle who often goes without having a shower because she just doesn’t have the energy to manage.

Britain Cares about social care

This is why Scope has launched the Britain Cares campaign to end this scandal. We – along with other charities, groups and thousands of people are calling on the Government to put in place enough funding so that disabled people can get the essential support they need. Crucially, the budget for social care will be decided in the forthcoming Spending Review in June and this is when the regulations setting out national threshold are due to be published.

So, it’s not only May that will be significant in the life of the new Care and Support Bill, but also 26 June when the Spending Review is announced. Although we hope that the new Bill will contain considerable improvements to the first draft, it will be far from ‘job done’. Over the next few weeks, through our campaigning and discussions with parliamentarians and civil servants, we’l l be redoubling our efforts to ensure that disabled people have the vital support they need to live their lives.

Show that you care that disabled people should get essential support to lead their lives.

Care and Support Bill

A few days ago I came across a quote from a young disabled woman that I simply couldn’t believe.” Emma, from Cambridge, said, “Not getting the support I need has meant my life is on hold. I have no routine, I feel socially isolated, lonely and of no value to society. I’m only 24; I feel 84.”

Emma is talking about the effects a lack of proper social care support has on her life. The idea of someone so young feeling that she is of no value to society is a terrible state of affairs, but sadly, Emma is not alone.

Today there are hundreds of thousands of disabled and older people who are not getting the social care support they need to live their lives.

Social care in crisis

It’s fair to say the social care system is on the brink of collapse. Crucially, in a matter of weeks, the Government will be making major decisions about the future of social care when the Care and Support Bill will finally be brought to Parliament.

It comes at this pivotal moment in the reform of the social care system that I have the honour of taking over from Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, as the new Chair of the Care and Support Alliance.

At Scope, our number one priority for a long time has been seeking to persuade the Government to ensure that disabled people get the social care support they need to live independent and active lives.

Care and Support Alliance

As Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of over 70 different organisations representing older and disabled people’s concerns of the social care system, it will be a huge privilege to be equally championing the views and concerns of the millions of older people and carers also affected by these reforms.

It’s worth reiterating why so many diverse organisations came together to form this powerful alliance on social care in the first place.

Years of chronic underfunding by successive Governments, followed by unprecedented cuts to council budgets, at a time when there is growing demand for care services, has put the social care system into crisis. Councils have been forced to ‘manage’ the numbers of people they can commit to providing social care support for. In reality this means the vast majority of councils today only provide state-funded social care support for those judged to have at least “substantial” care needs.

Effects of care crisis on disabled people

This has serious implications for disabled people and older people who only have moderate or basic needs and for the millions of carers left to pick up the pieces.

But the Care and Support Alliance has a much bigger role to play than just highlighting the problem. We can provide solutions. It is clear to us that setting eligibility for state-funded social care at “moderate” needs would guarantee disabled people and older people an active and independent future.

To that effect, my mandate as the new Chair is clear.

It’s never easy working in coalition. But it is testament to the sheer scale of the crisis engulfing older and disabled people that our sector wide coalition, representing the diverse views of disabled people, older people and carers, has been able to coalesce behind this one crucial issue with one clear solution.

Of course there will be significant cost implications and many people will ask if we can afford this in a time of austerity.

A Joint Committee of MPs and Peers scrutinising the draft Care and Support Bill recently warned that “restricting support and care to those with the highest levels of need will become entirely self-defeating, because it shunts costs into acute NHS care and undermines interventions to prevent and postpone the need for formal care and support.”

For that reason we’re asking the Government to be bold and make a brave choice when it comes to social care. To solve this crisis once and for all by investing in a system that ensures older and disabled people with moderate needs get the support they need to live a life with dignity; to have the support they need to get up, get out, and take part in daily life in their communities.

When faced with stories like Emma’s – can we really afford not to?