In 2012, we asked our Campaigns Panel what they thought about the Care Bill and what the Government should do to make care better. 

The subsequent report, ‘Our Future’, talked about their views and hopes for the future of care.  Our Campaigns Panel is a group of people we support and some family members who speak out on issues which are important to them and between them have many years’ experience of care and support.  As part of Good Care Week, we have taken a look at what the Panel wanted and whether the reforms in the Care Bill address their worries.

1.       Funding – Julia: “I might not be able to pay for enough support.”
The biggest worry for all our Panel members was whether they would have enough money to pay for the support they needed.  Several people found it very confusing to be facing changes to their benefits at the same time as reforms to care and support – the uncertainty was unsettling for many.  While the Care Bill does introduce new measures to cap the costs of care, it doesn’t address the problem of the chronic underfunding of care.

2.       Eligibility – Donna: “people with disabilities still need help in some areas, and I am worried that it will be a lot harder to get help if you have a mild or moderate learning disability.”
Some people were worried that it’s getting harder for disabled people with less severe needs to get support.  Others said that it was unfair that eligibility for care is very different across the country.  The Care Bill introduces a new national eligibility threshold for care and support which will end the current postcode lottery, but as it will be set at the current level of ‘substantial’, it will end up excluding people with less severe care needs.

3.       Ordinary residence – John and Lynn: this “will help us as [our daughter] is funded by one local authority but she lives in another area…it would mean that we could have a care manager where she lives.”
This has long been an issue which has caused problems for disabled people when they have tried to move to a new area or to a different type of accommodation.  Where someone is resident determines which local authority is responsible for arranging, and sometimes paying for, their care.  The Care Bill will make it easier for people to move without it disrupting their support which will make a huge difference for many disabled people.

4.       Transition – Denise: people need better support to “plan what they want to do before going into adult services.”
Moving from children’s services to adult services can be a difficult time, and some people told us they hadn’t been given enough support to prepare for adulthood.  People told us that better planning and better communication were needed to make transition easier for everyone.  Under the Care Bill, local authorities will be expected to start preparing people to move to adult services early on and must have suitable support in place if someone reaches 18 with an eligible care need.

On the surface, the Care Bill makes many of the changes the Campaigns Panel wanted to see.  However, without adequate funding, it is difficult to see how the aspirations laid out in the Care Bill will ever be achieved.  Only last year, the Association of Adult Social Services reported that £2.68 billion has been cut from adult social care since 2011, with further cuts expected.

Politicians from all parties agree that care services are facing increasingly difficult circumstances, but funding remains an unresolved issue.  As the Care Bill finishes its Parliamentary phase and local authorities look towards implementing its reforms, we and other charities will continue to speak up for disabled people and campaign for fairer funding for social care.  As Cecily says, one of the best ways for the Government to make a better future for people with learning disabilities is to “listen more to those with disabilities.”

Rachel Bowen, Campaigns Officer