Paul Burstow writes… Our vision for social care

Earlier today the government announced its social care plans. Paul Burstow explains the thinking behind them and what they will achieve:

Social care is essential for most people at some time in their life. It embraces the most intimate care for people, often at times of great distress. At its core, social care is about helping people to live their lives. It should enable people, and their carers, to live the independent life most of us take for granted. But this isn’t happening. Instead of a system that protects and enables the most vulnerable, we have an unsustainable and iniquitous social care system. The Coalition Government is moving away from the “business as usual” mentality of the last Labour government to tackle the broken system of how we care for our older and disabled people.

The Coalition Programme committed the Government to reforming the system of social care in England to provide greater control to individuals and their carers. Our vision for social care will deliver on this commitment. Today we have announced plans to ensure that people-and not service providers -have control over their care by extending the roll out of personal budgets, first proposed by the Liberal Democrats in 2004, to give individuals the freedom to decide what their money is spent on. Currently on 13 per cent of eligible people have access to personal budgets. This is not acceptable progress. By 2013 councils will provide everyone who wants one and is eligible with a personal budget. That’s a fivefold increase in the uptake of personal budgets, which will allow more than 1million people to choose the type of services which care for them.

Liberal Democrats have consistently championed the benefits of respite care, believing it is a lifeline – not just for carers but for whole families. The Coalition Government’s vision for social care will deliver on our manifesto commitment to provide guaranteed respite care by making over £400million available in additional funding over the next four years to the hundreds of thousands of carers who work over 50 hours a week. We will also go further than ever before in ensuring carers decide themselves what they want to do to take a break from caring. This is why we are ensuring that breaks are delivered through direct payments or personal health budgets wherever possible – to give carers the freedom to spend this money as they see fit. Too often in the past money for carers has been diverted into other areas. Unlike the last Labour Government, we’ll ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to make sure that this money gets to where it is needed.

Under the current system, too many vulnerable people have been left imprisoned in their homes, fearful of moving to be near loved ones, in case they found themselves worse off in a postcode lottery of care. Currently, vulnerable people can find that even if new assessments come to the same conclusion, the slow process can leave them without help for months. Our reforms will reverse rules which mean those who receive help from their local council have to be reassessed if they move to another part of the country; giving people the freedom to move home without the fear of having their entitlements taken away from them. Under our proposals, entitlements will become portable, so that once help has been agreed by one council elderly people will be able to move near or with relatives, without again needing to prove that they require help with tasks such as washing and dressing.

The care and support of our older and disabled population is the most urgent of all social policy issues we face as a society. That’s why as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Coalition Government has committed itself to investing £2billion into social care by 2014/15. Liberal Democrats can be proud that today we have announced a vision for social care that will begin the long sought joining up of health and social care that will reform the social care system for the better.

Paul Burstow is Minister of State for the Department of Health

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  • .
    Here’s what Nick Clegg said in February this year:

    ”There are close to five million unpaid carers in England, with a million providing more than 50hrs care each week.”

    “We are proposing an alternative: guaranteed respite care for the million hardest working carers in Britain.”

    “The total cost of this scheme will start from £460m in 2010-11 rising to £500m in 2014-15.”

    “We will pay for this by using the £420m of health funding that the government intends to use for the Personal Care at Home Bill. And we supplement this money with the £100m that has already been allocated by the Department of Health for respite care through the Carers Strategy.” source Nick Clegg, Monday 22 Feb 2010 (link below)

    How did the number over-50hrs carers reduce from one million to “hundreds of thousands” in a few months?

    But here’s the biggest scam of all. You’re saying you’ll allocate £400million over the next four years, BUT that was already budgeted in the Dept of Health own budget for respite care. See Nick Clegg’s own words above.


  • Richard, a skim read of that shows £100M allocated for respite previously, not £400M as you state. Yes it is a movement of money to a different priority, but it is fundamentally a good thing.

  • Dale

    Can’t you work out that £400m divided over four years is £100 million per year?

  • Three points:

    1. This sounds like real progress and possibly the first true example of a progressive policy helping those most at need.

    2. It needs to be real additional money though. Can you clarify whether this is the money the last Government announced or is the Government really “making over £400million available in additional funding”

    3. Can you clarify what happened to the additional 100 million.

    Irrespective of the funding route as someone with a father with dementia who was cared for at home by my mother this sounds a step in the right direction. It will lose credibility though if you are “doing a Brown” and re announcing money already allocated.

  • Richard, the way I interpret the quote is that LD proposals for £460M a year, using the £100M that had been available for the period (the entire 4 years). I may well be wrong – it isn’t clear, which is why we have come to different conclusions!

  • Patrick Smith 16th Nov '10 - 6:19pm

    The Social Care Budget is a ticking `time-bomb’ and ceratinly justifies a much greater commitment
    over the next 4 years of the `Coalition Government but there is much to commend and welcome on behalf of Carers and their individual recognition for `respite’ and paid holidays, from our Minister.

    I would add as a L/D who has read `Solving the Care Problem’ from the Tunstall Group, that focuses on the delivery of new communications in `Telecare’ espec. for the over 65`s, whose numbers are expected to grow by 50% by 2020.

    The growing Elderly numbers should also be warranted with personal care advocates whether living at Home or in residential care.

    Key workers assigned to `stroke victims’ is another area that ought to be introduced.

    I ask that the reported findings that 12% or 700,000 school age children are acting in the capacity of daily Carers in the Home for parents or family members, who depend on them.

    Can anything be done to recognise that this is a real problem for these young persons and surely should no longer be swept under the carpet.


  • I give this a cautious welcome but as a carer i am not keen on personal budgets or direct payments.

    I also doubt that the money for respite care will actually reach the carers.

    My time as a carer has made me very sceptical that the people who need
    the help will actually get it.

  • Paul Burstow 18th Nov '10 - 9:45am

    Hi all, thanks very much for your comments. Apologies for the delay in replying to your questions.

    The number of over 50hr carers hasn’t been reduced from one million to hundreds of thousands; it’s simply that the estimate has been revised to give a more accurate figure. The 2001 Census showed that there are 4.83 million carers, one in ten of the population. Of these, 20 per cent care for 50 or more hours per week, which works out as just short of one million carers, hence why the figure is quoted as “hundreds of thousands”. With regards to questions about funding, we announced new monies for carers’ breaks from April 2011. That is to say, it is additional funding of £400million over the next four years. It is not the money the last government put aside for the Personal Care at Home Bill. The last Government made £150million available for respite care, but instead of going to carers it was swallowed up amongst the PCT baselines. We’ll ensure this money gets to carers by allocating it through direct payments, so it goes straight to the people who need it. That’s the difference between this Government and the last. Richard, there is no scam, just Liberal Democrats delivering our promises in Government. Be proud of that fact. We will also be publishing a carers strategy shortly, which amongst other things will focus on the need to get much better at spotting carers and signposting them to the support that is available.

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