Disability organisations have given a cool welcome to government plans to set up an independent commission to find a “sustainable” way to reform social care funding.
The plans were laid out in this week’s Queen’s speech, with the government pledging that the commission would report within one year of being set up.
It said the commission would ensure a “fair partnership between the state and the individual” in funding social care.
The government also promised to “take decisive steps to accelerate the pace of reform” so that older and disabled people “have more choice and control over how their needs are met”, including through the expansion of personal budgets.
Inclusion London, the capital’s new Deaf and disabled people’s organisation, said it was concerned that the only two suggestions for funding social care mentioned in the new coalition’s government programme were a voluntary insurance scheme and a “partnership scheme”.
It said that neither option would provide “good care and support to all who need it”, and both would be likely to disadvantage those on low incomes, create a two-tier care system of care and could disproportionately affect disabled people.
A Department of Health spokesman said no funding options had yet been ruled out for consideration by the commission.
Disability Alliance (DA) said it was unhappy at further delays to reform, as “hundreds of thousands of disabled people across the country are desperate for support now and a solution now”.
Neil Coyle, director of policy for DA, said there was broad agreement across the social care field on the need for a National Care Service that was “standardised across the country”.
But he added: “If this is a genuinely deliberative discussion in which stakeholders will have their request for a National Care Service free at the point of delivery acknowledged, DA welcomes the opportunity to have an input.”
Liz Sayce, chief executive of RADAR, said any reforms “must be designed with increasing the independence and autonomy of disabled people at their centre, providing greater freedom, choice, flexibility and autonomy”.
Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said the promise that the commission would report within a year sent “a positive message that this will not be a talking shop, and that its conclusions will be neither ignored nor neglected”.
Meanwhile, new figures from a survey of English councils in March by ADASS and the Local Government Association show that about 140,000 of the 950,000 people receiving ongoing council-funded support were receiving personal budgets (about 15 per cent).
Council forecasts suggest this will increase to more than one in four by September, and more than 40 per cent by March 2011.
27 May 2010