Government’s social care ‘vision’ is ‘good in parts’


Disabled people’s organisations have given a mixed reaction to the government’s new “vision” for adult social care.

As part of his new “vision”, care services minister Paul Burstow announced plans to speed up the personalisation of care and support, and pledged to examine how to provide greater “portability” of disabled people’s care assessments.

Burstow said he wanted everyone eligible for ongoing social care to be receiving a personal budget – preferably by receiving direct cash payments – by 2013, even though surveys suggest only about 20 per cent of those eligible are currently receiving them.

The previous target was for at least 30 per cent of eligible social care-users to have a personal budget by April 2011.

Burstow said personal budgets – which allow the recipient to choose how to spend their allocated budget to meet their own care needs – can make “an incredible difference to people’s lives” and give them “choice, control and independence”.

The new document – A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens – says the government will also consider how to make assessments more “portable”, which would allow disabled people to move to a new area without having to be reassessed on their needs by their new local authority.

And it places a strong emphasis on “rehabilitation” and preventing “dependency”, and pledges to “break down barriers between health and social care funding”.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said the document was “good in parts” with “a lot of good stuff about personalisation, a lot of good stuff about supporting people to use direct payments”.

But she said she was concerned that its emphasis on rehabilitation and prevention was more about “trying to prevent anyone costing us any money”.

She said: “The language tends to suggest that those with higher support needs are really a bit of a pain in the neck and are failures as far as the social care system is concerned.”

And she said it did not make sense to just have portability of assessment –rather than of people’s entire care packages – and that the government clearly failed to understand “why we need complete portability”.

Marije Davidson, RADAR’s public affairs manager, said the document was “helpful”, as was its “commitment to give disabled people greater choice and control over their care and support”.

But she said the government needed to do more to recognise user-led organisations as “equal partners in bringing about change” and to provide “sustained and adequate funding for independent information, advice, advocacy and support”.

She also welcomed the reference to the need for portability – an issue RADAR has “fought long and hard for”.

Anne Kane, policy manager for Inclusion London, welcomed the emphasis on personalisation but said helping disabled people to have more choice and control “cannot be done on the cheap” and was being endangered by the government’s programme of spending cuts and its plans to break up public services.

The government’s “vision” will be followed next year by reports from the Law Commission on reforming social care law and the commission on social care funding, with a social care white paper to follow next autumn, and new laws in 2012.

18 November 2010