Baroness Campbell brings portability bill back to Lords


A disabled peer has re-introduced a bill that would allow disabled people to retain their council-funded support when they relocate to a different part of the country.

Baroness [Jane] Campbell’s social care portability bill received its first reading in the House of Lords this week.

Baroness Campbell only returned to the Lords earlier this month after six months recovering from serious health problems.

Her private members’ bill – which reached the first reading stage when it was introduced last summer – would provide continuity of support for disabled people who relocate to another local authority area in England or Wales.

The bill would place duties on councils to work together to ensure disabled people have equivalent care and support in place when they arrive at their new home rather than having to renegotiate their package from scratch.

The government has said that it wants to see greater “portability of assessment”, but this would only ensure that disabled people do not need to be reassessed when they relocate and not that they would secure the same level of support in their new home.

Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said the bill would provide a practical solution that should form part of a wider package of social care reform.

The government is expected to publish its long-awaited adult social care white paper next month.

DR UK said the lack of portability was a “significant breach of basic human rights, depriving people of choice and control over their lives, denying them job and education opportunities or the chance to live closer to family or friends”.

Liz Sayce, DR UK’s chief executive, said the charity had heard from disabled people who had had their support cut in half after moving to a new area, while others had been told to move into a residential home rather than employing a personal assistant.

She said: “Employers will not keep a job open indefinitely nor will colleges delay the start of the academic year while a disabled person battles out their care package with the council. This is a huge waste of potential.

“Social care is in crisis and we urgently need a simpler legal framework and sustainable funding.”

She added: “We call on the government to support Baroness Campbell’s bill and to give disabled people greater security of support when they move.”

Meanwhile, the government has launched a 12-week consultation on whether to extend its Right to Control (RTC) pilot scheme by another year.

Right to Control, introduced through Labour’s Welfare Reform Act and launched in seven pilot areas in England in 2010, puts support from six sources, including council-funded care, into single pots of money for disabled people to use as they wish.

The pilot was due to end in December 2012, but an interim evaluation found that – despite many examples of good practice – more evidence was needed about its impact.

Last October, Baroness Campbell told the Conservative minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, that disabled people were concerned that RTC was “going off the boil”.

The previous month, Disability News Service had reported concerns that Newham, in east London, one of the councils piloting RTC, was using the scheme as a cover for implementing cuts to disabled people’s support packages.

28 June 2012