The government is hoping to introduce new laws to reform the funding of adult social care and support within two years, the Department of Health (DH) has confirmed.
The government had already said it would set up an independent commission to find a “sustainable” way to reform social care funding. But it has now made it clear how quickly it plans to move.
The DH said it hoped to publish a white paper on care and support reform in the autumn of 2011, with new legislation following in the next Queen’s speech likely to be in November 2011.
A DH spokeswoman said she could not yet say whether there would be any disabled people on the commission, only that its membership would be decided “as soon as possible”.
She also confirmed that no funding options had yet been ruled out, but that the commission would be “asked to offer advice, rapidly, on a sustainable structure of funding for long-term care”.
The DH also confirmed that Labour’s Personal Care at Home Act (PCHA) would not come into force. The act would have provided free personal care at home to people with the highest needs.
Anne Kane, policy manager for Inclusion London, said that government talk of “painful and deep spending cuts” conflicted with the urgent need for a high quality, national system of social care that respected choice and control, and that such talk was “inevitably fuelling worry about the future”.
She said ministers’ emphasis on the need for a “sustainable” system implied low public spending, while Inclusion London wanted to see a system that was “available to all regardless of income and respects independence and human rights”.
And she said Inclusion London “deeply regretted” that the government was scrapping the PCHA, which “would have provided some care at home for people in desperate need”.
Neil Coyle, director of policy for Disability Alliance, said implementation of any new system was unlikely before 2014, while the economic climate and government budget restrictions would mean disabled people “continue to lose support and experience isolation and exclusion to an even greater degree”.
Coyle said there was widespread agreement among disabled people’s organisations and other campaigners that action was “needed soon”, and that the “simplest solution” would be a National Care Service funded through general taxation.
He said implementing the PCHA would have been “hugely welcome” if tied to “genuine resources”, and that “not providing free personal care at home will continue to harm disabled people and their families and push many families into poverty”.
8 June 2010