Most of you will have a friend or family member who needs some kind of care and support to help them get through the day.
In fact, more than 80% of us will need some form of care once we turn 65 – which is why getting social care right is so important.
It’s important because it touches upon some of the most essential things in life, like being healthy, happy and independent.
Today we published a Care and Support White Paper, a draft Care and Support Bill and a progress report on social care funding reform.
These three documents signal the most radical reform of social care in over 60 years. They are a symbol of how Liberal Democrats in government are making positive change happen on the ground – real change that will directly impact on the way people live their lives.
These reforms will, to put it simply, improve the quality of care and fix a system that is not fit for purpose.
The White Paper sets out a vast range of changes to how we do social care in this country. The changes I think will chime the most with Lib Dem supporters are:
- Ruling out the practice of crude ‘clock-watching’ home care visits that undermine people’s dignity.
- Introducing for the first time ever new rights to care and support for the country’s estimated five million carers.
- Putting an end to the postcode lottery of care by introducing a national eligibility threshold for basic care.
- Making sure people have clear and practical information on the care system and a way to report bad care.
And that’s just the start of it.
Since I took on this ministerial job I have heard countless times that people don’t know how to find good care and feel shoved from pillar to post in a care system that just doesn’t work around them. I’ve heard how older people aren’t treated with dignity in their own homes, and how people think their wishes are consistently ignored.
And believe me, I’ve taken all of this on board and today’s announcements address many of the problems you’ve raised. Over the coming years we’ll therefore be investing in better online services from local councils to make sure people get the information they need to make choices about their care.
We’ll be allowing people to compare and feedback on care homes and will also introduce a universal entitlement to personal budgets – meaning 1.4m people can take control of their own care. We’ll also place dignity and respect at the heart of a new code of conduct and national minimum training standards for care workers.
As a Coalition Government we have also agreed to the principles of the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations – financial protection for people through a cap on care costs and an extended means-test – as the right basis for any new system.
The draft Bill also means, that from April 2015 that nobody will need to sell their home in their own (or partners’) lifetime, thanks to the introduction of Universal Deferred Payments.
But reform of the funding system is complex and could be expensive. This is why we have now made clear that we see a cap on people’s lifetime care costs and a more generous means test as the key building blocks of a reformed system. But there is more work to do to get the final design and implementation right and final decisions on how we pay for it have to be made in the spending review.
In opposition I spent years arguing the case for social care reform, comprehensive reform – why is why we should be proud of what we have achieved so far. But there is still more to be done to deliver lasting improvements to the quality of life of millions of people in our country. That is my focus.
To read the White Paper, draft Bill and progress report on funding go to:http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/category/publications/
* Paul Burstow MP is Minister of State at the Department of Health.