Understanding the proposed Care Bill
The Care Bill, proposed by the government back in May, is currently being debated in Parliament and could have real impact on those providing or looking for social care.
The Bill is looking to change how the current care system works in a number of ways. Like many government bills it starts with a commitment to rationalise lots of existing legislation into a single set of rules. Instead of eligibility for state support being something that individual local authorities can determine and interpret, it will set a national standard of eligibility.
Another major change is aimed at those people providing informal care. At the moment people providing care and support to their loved ones have a right to an assessment by the local authority, but if the Bill is passed, local authorities will then have a statutory duty to meet those needs if they are judged to be serious enough.
The Bill will also make it clear that local authorities have a responsibility to facilitate the development of prevention services and initiatives in partnership with others to help people stay independent for longer. This also means that individuals who don’t meet the new national eligibility criteria for receiving help from the local authority will nevertheless have the right to get advice and support in relation to the needs they do have. Care plans will have to include reference to where else people might get the care and support that they need.
The Bill also confirms the Government’s previous announcement that they will put a cap on the amount of money people have to put towards their own care in their lifetime. At the moment that is £75,000 and the expenditure has to be on eligible care, which is defined as what the Council would have paid if the individual had not had too many resources for them to pass the financial assessment test. Paying to meet non-eligible needs or paying above the Council set rates for care would not count as part of the £75,000.
More details about the contents of the care Bill can be found at: http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm86/8627/8627.pdf
You can also read more about the debate proceedings here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2013/may/lords-care-bill/