Peer’s new bill could unlock freedom to relocate


A disabled peer is set to introduce her own “portability” bill into the House of Lords, in a bid to persuade the government to unlock disabled people’s freedom to move around the country.

Baroness [Jane] Campbell says her new social care portability bill would guarantee disabled people the right to relocate to any different local authority area in England and Wales, without being forced to have their needs reassessed by their new council.

Currently, disabled people have to negotiate a new care and support package from scratch if they want to relocate to a new area.

Although Baroness Campbell believes the government is in favour of the idea of “portability”, this is likely to stretch only as far as ensuring disabled people would not have to be reassessed.

Her private members’ bill would go further, giving disabled people legal rights to support that was “equivalent to the existing care package” they enjoyed before they moved –perhaps for reasons of work, education or to be nearer family or friends – as well as ensuring “seamless” transitional arrangements.

She told Disability News Service: “We are looking forward to a social care system that is equitable and the same wherever you live.”

This would mean councils could not get away with replacing a package of support that ensured independent mobility with one that offered “Dial-a-Ride or an accessible bus service”.

If she was to move, she said, it would mean she could “do the same things I can do now… I could go out, do my job, and know I felt as comfortable and safe as I do now”.

“At a time when we are just losing so much, the one thing it will give us is the control of the very little that we do have.”

Baroness Campbell added: “My job is to convince local authorities that this is not going to be scary, it is not going to be a burden on them and they are not suddenly going to have to come up with resources and schemes and services that they simply haven’t got. It is cost-neutral.

“That is the basis of my bill. I am not asking for any money. I am just asking them to do things differently.”

She is hoping the government will accept the contents of her bill and incorporate it into the adult social care bill it will introduce next spring.

Much of the content of her bill was supported by Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers when she introduced a portability amendment to Labour’s personal care at home bill last year.

Baroness Campbell said the bill – her first since entering the House of Lords in 2007 – would be her “biggest test” since becoming a peer.

She has been working on it for 15 months, along with Professor Luke Clements, the leading community care lawyer; Jenny White, a former commissioner with the Disability Rights Commission; and Marije Davidson, RADAR’s public affairs manager.

Davidson said the bill would make “such a huge difference to disabled people’s lives”.

She said: “It’s just crazy that in a world and age where there exist virtually no barriers to live wherever you want, disabled people are effectively denied their right to move even a few streets away if that involves moving to another local authority.”

The first reading of the bill is likely to take place close to next month’s report from the Dilnot commission into the long-term funding of adult social care, with a second reading likely near the publication of the government’s social care white paper later this year.

16 June 2011