Peer’s bill would fast-track rights to portability


A disabled peer is set to introduce a private members’ bill that would ensure disabled people do not have to wait until 2015 for new legal rights around their care and support.

The government looks likely to give disabled people new rights to ensure some continuity of care when they move to a different local authority area, for example when they find a new job.

But Baroness [Jane] Campbell told fellow peers and MPs this week that disabled people could not wait until 2015 for the government to implement the social care legislation that could give them these new rights of “portability”.

The joint meeting of several all party parliamentary groups – including those on disability and social care – was discussing last week’s Law Commission report on the reform of adult social care law, which makes several recommendations on portability.

These include promoting co-operation between local authorities when a disabled person moves to a different area, and imposing a duty on the new authority to carry out an assessment of the person’s needs.

If the new local authority decides to provide a “significantly different support package” – the commission recommends – it would have to produce “a clear written explanation”.

Care services minister Paul Burstow welcomed the report’s emphasis on the importance of portability, although he made no specific pledge that there would be any such rights in the government’s social care bill.

The government is due to publish an adult social care white paper later this year, followed by a bill next May, but Burstow confirmed that the new laws would not come into force until April 2015.

Baroness Campbell told the meeting that she was “thrilled” to see portability mentioned in the Law Commission report, but she warned that “for many of us time is very pressing”, and that disabled people could not wait until 2015.

She said she had a private members’ bill on portability that was “ready to go”, and had been prepared in “a very collaborative way” and “fits in very well with the Law Commission report”.

She said that – with services and disability benefits being “cut and cut” – the ability to find work would be “very much central to many disabled people’s ability to participate and maybe even survive” in the current economic climate, and so they would need to be able to move quickly to new parts of the country, particularly to find work.

Baroness Campbell suggested that if her private members’ bill was to become law it could eventually be incorporated into the government’s new social care bill.

18 May 2011