Care Bill becomes Care Act
Significant reforms to adult social care and long-term care planning moved a big step forward this week after The Care Bill received Royal Assent.
The Care Act passed into law on 14th May and represents the biggest reforms to the social care system in more than 60 years.
At the heart of the Act are reforms designed to place people and their carers in control of their care and support.
Specifically, it introduces the concept of Personal Budgets which give people the power to spend money on tailored care that suits their individual needs as part of their support plan.
The Care Act also introduces the reforms originally proposed by Sir Andrew Dilnot in 2010, including a lifetime cap on care fees.
Regardless of other assets, once the lifetime cap of £72,000 has been reached, the state will pay future care costs.
However, only the care element of residential care home fees will count towards this lifetime cap, with ‘hotel’ costs exempt.
The lifetime cap comes into force from April 2016.
In addition, a national minimum eligibility threshold for council-funded social care is being introduced.
This eligibility threshold is expected to be introduced at over £100,000, significantly higher than the current figure of £23,250.
Other measures in the Act include:
-A duty on councils to consider the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals in need of care;
-New powers for the chief inspector of social care to hold poor-performing providers to account;
-A requirement for councils to offer deferred payment schemes so that individuals do not have to sell their homes to pay for residential care in their lifetime;
-New rights for carers including the right to an assessment of their needs and the right to get support if they meet eligibility criteria;
The Department of Health will launch a consultation of the draft regulations and guidance connected to the measures within Act in the near future.
With a growing elderly population, we expect local authorities to face greater pressure on funding and administering care in the future.
It will be interesting to see what additional funding is provided by central government to support local councils meet these costs.