Caring for our future white paper and Draft Care and Support Bill

On 11 July 2012, the government set out its plans for reforming the social care system. Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley announced the publication of both the promised white paper for social care reform and the Draft Care and Support Bill.

On the same day, the government published its response to recommendations for reform from the Law Commission and the Dilnot Commission. The government broadly accepted the recommendations of the Law Commission and its recommendations were reflected in the Draft Care and Support Bill.

The government agreed with the Dilnot Commission's recommendation that there should be a new funding model for social care, in order to protect users from sudden financial crises in the future. The commission suggested capping care costs and extending the means test threshold, which the government accepted. However, the report made clear that the government was unable to commit to introducing funding reforms at that point. Proposals for reforming the funding model for the care and support system would need to wait until the 2013 spending review.

Caring for our future white paper

The Caring for our future white paper set out the main principles for reforming the care and support system, based on the findings from the Caring for our future engagement exercise that took place during Autumn 2011.

In the white paper, the government committed to:

  • appointing a chief social worker by the end of 2012
  • investing £100m in 2013/14 and £200m in 2014/15 in joint funding between the NHS and social care to support better integrated care
  • introducing a national minimum eligibility threshold and extending the right to an assessment for more carers
  • establishing a new national information website and to work with partners to develop comparison websites
  • end crude contracting by the minute
  • consult on further steps to ensure service continuity for people using care and support, should a provider go out of business
  • test the costs and benefits of using direct payments for those choosing residential care
  • developing a new code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers
  • establishing a new capital fund worth £200m over 5 years to support the development of specialised housing for older people and people with disabilities.

Draft Care and Support Bill

In the Queen's speech on 9 May 2012, the government had announced its intention to introduce a Draft Care and Support Bill, with the aim of 'putting people in control of their care and giving them greater choice' and including updates to the legal framework to accommodate the white paper's proposals.

In the Draft Care and Support Bill, the government outlined that its aim was to consolidate existing legislative provisions, relating to adult social care, from various pieces of legislation into a single framework. The bill also sought to:

  • modernise care and support legislation to refocus the system around the needs and wellbeing of service users in the system
  • simplify the care and support system and its processes
  • provide clarity on entitlements to services
  • support the provision of information and advice to communities and promote prevention and early intervention.

Provisions included:

  • the establishment of statutory principles on the promotion of individual wellbeing, which would underpin care and support services
  • a legal duty on local authorities to provide information on care and support services, enabling people to plan ahead for their future care needs
  • new measures to ensure portability of services, ensuring that care would not be interrupted if people moved local authority areas
  • new rights for carers to access support services following an assessment of their needs and ability to manage the care needs of the person in need of support
  • entitlement to personal budgets, as part of care and support plans, and a right to request a personal budget in the form of direct payments
  • a new statutory framework for adult safeguarding, which set out the responsibilities of local authorities and their partners, including the establishment of Safeguarding Adult Boards in every area.

Initial response

Upon its announcement, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham described the proposals in the white paper as ‘important steps forward’, however he described it as ‘half a plan’ since the government had avoided committing to funding reforms.

Although stakeholders welcomed the government acknowledging the need for reform of the social care system, many felt that the proposals did not go far enough. The chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society stated that: ‘Millions of vulnerable people had been promised radical reform but today they are being massively let down. Every day without a funding decision is another day where people, including those with dementia, face huge costs for often substandard care. This white paper is not worth the paper it's written on.’

Source(s)

Department of Health.
Caring for our future.
HMSO; 2012.

Department of Health.
Draft Care and Support Bill. .
HMSO; 2012.

Department of Health.
Draft Bill to modernise adult care and support in England included in Queen's speech.
gov.uk; 2012.

Department of Health.
Caring for our future; progress report on funding reform.
HMSO; 2012.

House of Commons.
Care and Support. 11 July 2012. Vol 548.
Hansard; 2012.

Fuhl J.
Social care white paper; reactions from the sector.
The Guardian; 2012.