Tag Archives: queen

Four things to look out for in today’s Queen’s Speech

Today’s Queen’s Speech will be the last under the Coalition and first under a fixed term Parliament.  Speculation about the contents of the speech this year has been about whether its contents can give the Coalition enough energy to last the course. But what will the speech mean for disabled people?

This year the speculation surrounding the Queen’s Speech has been about how ‘light’ it will be in terms of proposed legislation. Whatever is included we can expect Wednesday’s speech to contain proposals that aim to capture the electorate’s imagination before the fast approaching General Election.

From the trickles of announcement made throughout the last year – as well as in the press over the past week – we know about a few of them. As ever, Scope will be watching out for what the announcement means for disabled people and for Scope.

Here are four things that we will be watching out for.

1. Tax free childcare

In last year’s Budget the Government announced that it will introduce Tax-free Childcare for working parents in 2015. Under the scheme, eligible families would be entitled to a 20% discount on their annual childcare costs, up to a limit of £10,000 per child. A Bill to introduce this is expected in the Queen’s Speech.

Government support for childcare costs is welcome: families with disabled children tell us that childcare costs are a key barrier to work.

But it is likely that some disabled children will miss out on Tax-free Childcare in the current proposals.  This is because parents of disabled children would not be able to use such a scheme if they wanted to buy child care that is registered with the CQC and not with Ofsted. This includes domiciliary care or short breaks.

This would be a major omission that would exclude the parents of disabled children from help with the cost of childcare – which can often be higher for disabled children.

We will be keeping a close eye on the proposals and will continue to push Government to make sure that all families with disabled children can benefit from any new Bill.

2. Regulation of Health and Social care professionals

Social Care reform has been a huge priority of the Coalition.  The Care Bill – now Care Act – was included in the past two Queen’s Speeches.  And care could be included yet again.

The Government has hinted that they could create consistency in the regulation of health and social care professionals through a better framework for registration, standards and professional development.

Well regulated, motivated social care professionals are crucial in delivering high quality care for disabled people, and Scope would welcome any moves by Government to improve this. But we will continue to remind Government that although this is crucial, whilst the social care system remains chronically underfunded disabled people who need social care will still lose out on the support they need to live their lives.

3. Social Finance

The Coalition has made social investment a priority over the past 4 years. In 2012 Scope became one of the first UK charities to enter capital markets with its listed bond programme, and we have supported the Government in their work in this area.

This Queen’s Speech is expected to include legislation that focuses on the legal framework in which charities operate in the area of social finance, specifically on improving the administrative burdens and technical problems. We’ll be watching to see what this means for Scope.

4. Welfare reform

The final year of the Coalition will see many of the Government’s welfare reform measures continue to come into effect. From the roll out of the new Personal Independence Payment to changes in housing benefits, many of these changes will impact upon disabled people.

We’ll be watching out for the Speech to include anything specific on welfare reform – and what this could mean for disabled people.

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.