The Government published its care bill on 9 May 2013, which is now in its Committee stages in the House of Lords. The Bill extends the personalisation agenda, codifies existing social care legislation in a single Act, and creates a range of new rights, powers, and duties. We will be providing coverage of the Bill as it makes its way through Parliament but, as currently drafted, the Bill’s most important innovations are to:
- Impose duties on LAs to promote individual well-being; arrange for the provision of services aimed at preventing or delaying the need for support; promote integration between LAs and health services; provide information and advice; and promote a competitive market of service providers.
- Put personal budgets and care and support planning on a statutory footing.
- Impose a nationwide eligibility threshold, to avoid the so-called “postcode lottery” as between different LAs.
- Create new duties for the assessment of and provision of support for carers, which mirror those of the people they care for.
- Impose, from April 2016, a lifetime cap of approximately £72,000 on self-funded care costs. Individuals who can afford it will be responsible for the first £72,000 of the cost of their care, after which (subject to certain exceptions) their local authority will pay. The intention is to protect people from catastrophic care costs.
- Pledge support to those with up to £118,000 of assets. The existing ceiling is £23,250.
- Create a right for homeowners, from April 2015, to defer paying care home costs. The costs will now be met by the sale of the person’s home after their death, meaning that service users can keep their home during their lifetime.
The majority of the reforms, most notably the cap on care costs, have been welcomed by the community care world. Concern remains, however, about the level at which the cap and the eligibility threshold will be set. The answer is expected to be contained in the Chancellor’s spending review on 26 June 2013. Moreover, much of the finer detail of the reform promised by the Bill, such as the way in which an assessment is carried out, is to be set out in regulations. No draft regulations have yet been published.