Campaigners have delivered a broadly positive response to the new coalition government’s decision to set up a commission to investigate the reform of social care funding.
The pledge to set up the independent commission – which will report to the government within a year – was one of a series of commitments around social care in the coalition’s programme of government for the next five years.
The coalition also announced that it would not allow the Labour government’s Personal Care at Home Act to come into force. The act would have provided free personal care at home to disabled and older people with the highest needs, but had faced fierce cross-party opposition.
Paul Burstow, the new Liberal Democrat care services minister, said “urgent” reform of social care funding was “at the top of our agenda”.
He said the commission would be asked to deliver a “sustainable” solution, which would be “a fair partnership between the state and the individual”, and provide “much more control to individuals and their carers”.
Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), welcomed the announcement.
She said: “Given the different views that were expressed before the election, it makes sense to have a commission and I am pleased that it will have a timetable of reporting within a year.”
She said she hoped membership would include service-users, and added: “This is a chance for people who use services to be centrally involved and part of the process of coming up with a policy that works for everyone.”
The Care and Support Alliance, whose 30 members include RADAR and NCIL, also welcomed the commitment, and stressed the need to ensure the views of service-users and carers “informs” any decisions.
The government also pledged to extend the roll-out of personal budgets to disabled and older people, “break down the barriers between health and social care funding” so as to improve incentives for “preventative action”, increase direct payments to carers and improve access to respite care.
And it promised to “strengthen” the role of the Care Quality Commission, which regulates health and adult social care in England.
Andrew Little, chief executive of Inclusion London, said the coalition’s social care proposals needed to be outlined in full, but “threaten to leave many without adequate care”.
He said: “A fully comprehensive scheme available to all who need care and regardless of ability to pay is the only moral and just way forward.”
20 May 2010