Tag Archives: Care Bill

Six talking points from the Spending Review

Young disabled man outdoors with personal assistant

1. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Good news? Okay… the Chancellor has announced a £3.8 billion investment – including £2 billion of new money – in social care: the support disabled people get from their council to get up, get washed and dressed, and live independently.

The official document says, “This shared pot includes an additional £2 billion from the NHS and builds on the existing contribution of around £1 billion in 2014–15, with the aim of delivering better, more joined-up services to older and disabled people, to keep them out of hospital and to avoid long hospital stays”.

Here’s why this cash is welcome. The social care system is on its knees. Cash-strapped councils have been upping the bar for support eligibility, with 83% of councils now setting the threshold at a higher level. According to London School of Economics 69,000 disabled people have been pushed out of the system.

At the same time councils are squeezing the support for those that are in the system. A Scope survey found almost 40% of disabled people who continue to receive social care support are not having their basic needs met including eating properly, washing, dressing or being able to get out of the house.

Take away the preventative support and people fall into crisis. Have a listen to Angela Murray explain why social care is so important to her.

2. The ‘how’ is really important

Given that we now also know that councils are facing a further 10% cut in their budgets, a crucial piece of detail is how the cash gets to frontline social care. ADASS have said that previous injections of cash have instead disappeared into the black-hole of council budgets.

The documents talk about pooled budgets and NHS money being made available to councils through ‘local health and care systems’, which – in an exclusive for the HSJ – Jeremy Hunt explains will be achieved through Health & Wellbeing Boards. A cross-part panel of MPs and Peers recently argued that this would give it a better chance of reaching the people that need it. The official document explains that the Government is “putting £3.8 billion in a single pooled budget for health and social care services to work more closely together in local areas, based on a plan agreed between the NHS and local authorities”.

3. Britain Cares about social care

Today’s spending review announcement follows six months of campaigning. The innovative Stephen Fry-backed Britain Cares campaign, has seen over 25,000 people contact their MP about social care for disabled people – a thousand of who have sent personalised photos to show they care.

At the same time a young disabled woman from Luton – and former volunteer of the year – Angela launched a petition on Change.org which has received more than 45,000 signatures. She handed it in to 11 Downing Street on Monday.

4. But don’t celebrate just yet

The crucial question is now who gets care and who doesn’t. The announcement comes as the Care Bill is debated in the Lords over the coming week. The reforms seek to tackle the crisis in care by introducing a cap on costs, a new means-testing threshold and national eligibility to end the postcode lottery in care.

But under the current  plans – reiterated in the Spending Review – the Government will raise the bar for eligibility to social care to a level which London School of Economics (LSE) says will leave 105,000 disabled people with significant needs outside of the system altogether. They need that support to live independent lives. Without it, they are left isolated and in crisis.

5. And the really bad news…

The Government was briefing that there would be no further cuts on welfare. But that’s exactly what a cap on so-called Annually Managed Expenditure could mean. AME is Government spending which includes welfare and state pension bills. The Government is capping about half the budget. The Chancellor confirmed this will definitely include benefits for disabled people.

This means that regardless of how many disabled people need financial support, if the public finances take another nose dive, the Government could pull the plug on support for disabled people just when they really need it. This is ludicrous. Some disabled people will always need financial support. It doesn’t make them scroungers or skivers.

6. But let’s end on a positive note

The Chancellor committed to continue to spend £350m on employment support for disabled people. This mainly funds Access to Work and Work Choice. This support is especially important when you consider the growing consensus that the Work Programme (not linked to this funding) isn’t effectively supporting disabled people and ESA claimants. This will come to a head when the DWP publishes performance statistics for the Work Programme on Thurs June 27th.  It’s becoming ever more clear we need new solutions for getting disabled people into work.

With every Spending Review there’s is a lot to take in. But at a time when the Government is bringing in £11.5bn of cuts, an investment of £3bn into local support for disabled people is certainly good news.

The social care system is on its knees

Wednesday’s Spending Review provides the Government with an opportunity to start solving our care crisis. Scope’s chief executive Richard Hawkes asks on the New Statesman blog: what is the Chancellor going to do?

“Properly funded social care is now a ‘no brainer’.

By acting decisively the Chancellor can go a long way to solving the social care crisis, protect A&Es, and save cash across government departments. It’s a triple win.

But the Government will only be able to claim that it’s solved the social care crisis once it has decided who is in and who is out of the system.”

Read the full blog post

Ed Miliband’s welfare speech: three talking points

Ed Miliband has given a high-profile speech on welfare. The BBC’s headline is that Labour would cap social security spending. But underneath the soundbite the speech covered a lot of ground. The Scope policy team considers what it might mean for disabled people:

1. Investing in better employment support will bring down benefit expenditure

Successive Governments have recognised that supporting more disabled people into work can bring down social security spending. But too many programmes have had the wrong focus. Scope has long been clear that the Work Capability Assessment doesn’t work; our figures show that only 1,000 disabled people have got a job through the Work Programme. Ed Miliband is right to make this a big issue when it comes to welfare. But he needs to be clear that the reason unemployment is high for disabled people is because there are barriers to the labour market and a lack of appropriate jobs – not because disabled people don’t want to work.

We need to assess what the barriers disabled people face actually are rather than focusing on whether someone is medically able to stand up in the shower.

And we need to make sure those barriers are met through a programme of support that works for disabled people and finds jobs that they actually want, rather than pushing them into low-pay, low-skill jobs that only work in the short term.

Here’s Scope’s thinking on improving employment support for disabled people.

2. Spending money on social care can reduce broader public spending

Ed Miliband wants to cap something called Annually Managed Expenditure (AME), public spending that fluctuates with the economy. Welfare spending is the main chunk of this, and this is the basis for the ‘cap welfare’ headlines.

Social care doesn’t come from this budget. But there’s a crucial link here. If disabled people don’t have the right support to get up, dressed and out of the house in the morning, they won’t be able to play a part in their community and the wider economy.

With the right support, disabled people will be able to to contribute more to the economy, creating savings in social security expenditure and generating tax revenues.

Rather than capping Annually Managed Expenditure (AME), Labour should invest in areas like social care that could make real savings across the whole of public services – not just welfare.

Scope’s research shows that for every £1 spent on support, £1.30 comes back into society – and 28p of this saving is directly reduces AME.

3. Some disabled people will always need benefits.

Miliband said: “We should also support disabled people. Those who cannot work. And those who want to work and need help finding it.”

This is really important, because disabled people will be concerned about the impact on their support of combining a shift to a ‘contributory welfare’ system and a cap on AME. Hopefully this means that when it comes to disabled people, Labour’s starting point won’t be “How much money do we have?”, but rather “What kind of support we need to provide?”

And hopefully the result will be plans for making this a better place for disabled people.

Funding the care system

The social care system is in crisis.

The Government’s response – the Care Bill – is being scrutinised in the Lords. It seeks to tackle the crisis in care by introducing a cap on costs, a new means-testing threshold and national eligibility to end the postcode lottery in care.

The benefits of taking action are almost self-evident – imagine not being able to get up, get dressed and get out of the house.

But getting a system that works costs cold, hard cash and in an age of austerity that’s in short supply.

In recent years hard-up councils have tightened their criteria, meaning that disabled people might need more frequent hospitalisation, be unable to continue living in their own home, more likely to experience depression and fall into debt or lead a less healthy lifestyle.

Does that mean we will be stuck with a persistently underfunded system with an ever-tightening rationing of resources? Not necessarily.

Cash on the table

As reported in the Financial Times, five leading disability charities have revealed that the economic benefits from government investment in social care for disabled people are substantial. We can break the downward spiral.

Through advice and support for everyday activities from budgeting, and communication to help in the home the study found we all benefit from preventing disabled people’s care needs increasing and relying on more costly public services.

Earlier this year, the five charities lifted the lid on the scale of the crisis revealing that care for disabled people was underfunded by £1.2 billion. The case for plugging that gap just became even stronger.

Money talks

The debate on how we fund social care has – ahead of the government spending review on June 26 – is a hot topic.

Government plans are backed up by a recent announcement about greater integration between health and social care. The proposals include making joined-up and co-ordinated health and care the norm by 2018 and agreeing a definition of what people say good integrated care and support looks and feels like.

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham waded in over the weekend when he said, “Labour would invest £1.2bn over the next two years to ease the crisis in social care – tackling a root cause of the pressure on A&E.”

With pressure on A&E’s hitting the headlines, Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs said: “And the elephant in the room, we don’t have enough social care beds and social care facilities so patients can be looked after in more appropriate places.”

A recent inquiry comprising a cross-party panel of MPs and Peers, led by Baroness Campbell, a well-known disabled peer, and Heather Wheeler, an influential Tory MP, called on the Government to use NHS cash to help fund social care to fix a system that is devastating lives.

The case for a properly funded social care is gathering momentum.

A Care Bill that does not go hand in hand with extra funding is at risk of failing the millions of people who rely on care in their day-to-day lives. The economic case for action is now as compelling as the human one.

Scope supporters and shoppers show Britain cares

As the numbers of views of the Britain Cares campaign film fly past the 100,000 mark, the photo actions grow each day and the I Care actions get ever more creative, you may wonder if the Britain Cares team could sit back and take a breather. Not for a minute! And now more than 26,000 people have taken part in the campaign.

At this crucial time to influence the Government to ensure that disabled people get the social care they need – the reality is far from relaxing. Over the past few weeks the flurry of energy for Britain Cares has been magnified all around the country, as Scope customers have been signing campaign cards in their thousands across our 235 shops. It’s fantastic to see so much support for this crucial campaign.

For the past two weeks, Scope shoppers have been invited to choose a postcard and send it to their MP. There are six card designs, each representing a different area of life that social care makes possible for some disabled people, ranging from the essentials like getting washed and dressed to being able to leave the house to meet family or go to work. Things that many of us may take for granted, until we consider life without them.

Leslee Welman, manager of Exmouth’s Scope shop, has been busy speaking to customers about the Britain Cares campaign and collecting hundreds of signed postcards. She told us how brilliant it has been to see such a lot of support for the campaign from her customers:

“It’s been really positive so far. It’s wonderful to see our customers so passionate about this issue and able to take action by signing a campaign card. They’re really keen to do anything they can to support the campaign, and of course Scope. I’ve spoken to many of my customers who are personally affected by changes to social care and therefore this is really important to them.”

All the signed cards are now on their way to Westminster, to call on MPs to take action and ensure that social care is funded in the upcoming Spending Review and that disabled people get the right support to live their lives.

If you are one of the thousands of people who have already signed a Britain Cares card in a Scope shop – thank you for your support. Please stay involved, and visit www.britaincares.co.uk for the many ways you can continue to show you care.

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?