Paul Burstow MP writes… Radically reforming social care

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:

* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam and was the MP until the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Geoffrey Payne 11th Jul '12 - 1:28pm

    And all perfectly timed for the SLF conference on Saturday where Paul will be debating this topic. So come along and bring your questions.

  • The cap is much much much too low. This is creating another problem to be stored up. More intergenerational theft holding up the typical old aged Tory vote.

    There are other practical issues. When my dad was terminally ill, about the last thing that he needed was to be personally controlling his own care budget. It would have been nice if Social Services and the Hospital didn’t play stupid games every time he was due to come out of hospital.

    I would love to question Paul on this at the weekend – sadly not able to be there. I respect what he is trying to do – and this is a step in the right direction, but overall its underwhelming, which is probably all that can be expected given the shower we are in coalition with.

  • martin sweetland 11th Jul '12 - 6:44pm

    Well you lot made a right pigs year of the Welfare reform bill , and failed to listen to the voices of reason. My wife was among the many thousands of disabled people that lost their benefits in April due to time limiting (12 months). Are you asking for advice from pensioners, students and the disabled ? because you have not been listening. As long as your party is aligned with the Tories there will be no justice for the rank and file that make up the majority of the populace . Be interesting to see where you sit come the next election when Clegg runs for leader of the Tories. What exactly have YOU done to improve the dignity and respect of those not able to look after themselves ? Precious little i suspect. And why do so many M.P.s start a blog then not even reply to respondents?

  • Peter Hayes 11th Jul '12 - 9:05pm

    My parents sold their mobile home for about £100,000 (double home in a nice area) to move into a not for profit home. Unfortunately Dad had a stroke and needed Alzheimer’s care , not in the same home as Mum. 2 years later Mum spend several months in hospital before they decided to discharge her into self funded care, she died 2 weeks later. In less than 5 years they had paid over £60000. Dad was a teacher, Mum secretary and accounts clerk not rich. So how will the new system stop families like the Cameron’s use their overseas trust funds to protect their inheritance whilst I got a pittance after paying for funerals and being forced to vacate her flat in 3 weeks so paying for storage until I can donate furniture etc. to charity?

  • Mr Burstow. My father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. All his life he worked extremely hard, he served almost eight years as an RAF war-time volunteer, in the service of his country he was wihout doubt hero. The moment he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his country did not want to know; both the NHS the local social services ‘ran for cover’. He (through my wife and Power of Attorney) sold his house in order to pay for his residential/nursing care in a home. His having to finance the final four years of his life in a care home is not an issue for me – he had the means to pay (albeit hard-earned) and his care was magnifiscent. No, the discust that I have is for the various state agencies charged with the care of the elderly, inferm and ill people. What has been announced today will improve virtually nothing as far as I can tell. The reaction to today’s announcements by Lansley, from people who really do know what they are talking about says it all. Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, said the plans did not go “far enough” and “simply paper over the cracks”.
    “Council leaders are disappointed that the white paper does not address the reality of the current and growing funding crisis.”
    “We are concerned that under the proposed timetable, elderly and disabled people, as well as carers, could face at least a further five years of uncertainty.”
    Richard Humphries, of the King’s Fund think-tank, said “the government has failed to produce a clear plan”.
    “There is a financial vacuum at the heart of these proposals.”
    And Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: “Sadly, the delay on a funding decision will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on those currently in need of care support today.”
    She added the lack of clarity also raised the question about whether a cap would ever be introduced at all.

  • “Ruling out the practice of crude ‘clock-watching’ home care visits that undermine people’s dignity.”

    My sister is a home care worker, the company she works for has an instruction that staff are not to talk to clients (in the sense of conversations). Bearing in mind that she may be the only person these people see all day, I find it amazing. Needless to say, she tends to forget that rule and hopes that some one doesn’t report her.

  • Radicalibral 11th Jul '12 - 11:44pm

    Those of us who are approaching Middle Age have a very difficult decision to make. Do we sacrifice the future of Young People, or risk the damage to the prospects of the Elderly. Unfortunately whether we like it or not, (and we don’t) unless we can radically improve the prosperity of the country so that the benefits of that can be shared out, hard choices have to be made. Regrettably when I retire I fully expect that I will have to sell my property to pay for my Care. If we accept that in future we will not be able to automatically pass on the benefits of the Equity contained within our mortgage free properties to our children, then we will go some way to tackling the cost of Social Care. Whether that will be sufficient is not clear but it may have one fringe benefit for young people. The market may become easier for first time buyers to get on the property ladder.
    On the issue of the Loans proposal. I see this perhaps wrongly as a fudge from tacking the hard choice I have suggested. Worse as with Student Loans will “creep” develop with such a system demanding higher, and higher payments to cover the cost of these loans?

  • DAVE WARREN 12th Jul '12 - 9:27am

    I will wait and see what this actually amounts to when it is rolled over but sadly it doesn’t appear to be nearly enough.

    Fundamental reform is needed but i can’t see it here.

    Who pays for care and how much is an issue yes. The main problem though is the care is often of very poor quality.

    The private companies delivering home care are mainly concerned with making a profit and are subject to no proper regulation.

    Carers lose out big time and i can’t see that changing.

    If we don’t see the real reforms that are needed then people will continue to suffer.

  • I will (continue to) be very disappointed if, in the end, the spending review doesn’t include funding the Dilnot cap. There are many ways to fund it from the same wealthy pensioners-to-be who’ll benefit – as Dilnot recommended. Please don’t kick this into the next parliament or beyond due to political timidity!

  • Richard Dean 12th Jul '12 - 10:51am

    It’s certainly good to try to define the rights and expectations for carers and the cared-for, particularly as this will become a far larger issue as the population ages. Things I thought were missing included

    – provisions, requirements, and standards for training and CPD of carers, from the amateur to the professional
    – monitoring systems, to check that carers are providing what is required, and local authorities are too
    – advice and complaints systems, particularly advice and including things like suing for negligence

    It seems that a local authority will be able to make charges against a cared-for person’s wealth, particularly their house? I wonder whether this has been properly thought out – a more sensible approach might be to charge a person’s estate, and of course have systems in place to prevent people and LAs from abusing this.

  • Hazel Dakers 12th Jul '12 - 11:22am

    Some achievement! Is the “coalition” govt going to be charging outrageous compound interest as with the impoverishing student loans? Paul Burstow is kidding himself if he actually believes a loan against their home going to ease the mind of an old person needing full time care.
    The difference in cost between living in an anonymous home and staying in one’s own home is inexplicably little. Through agencies live-in full time carers cost about £50K pa and relief carers to cover time off about an additional £10K. Most but not all old people would rather stay in their own homes instead of living in institutions.
    Time to stop playing politics with people’s lives and to start setting up a responsible system of (dare I call it?) national insurance for old age care.

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