Paul Burstow writes…Care Act shows how Lib Dems in Government make society fairer

Knowing that you will receive the best care possible means the world to everyone who finds themselves or their loved ones in need of social care.

That is why I made it my first priority as Care Minister, and together with Norman Lamb – our current Care Minister – and other Lib Dem colleagues we have worked hard to reform our badly out of date care system and drag it into the twenty first century.

Today, that work reaches a major milestone with the Care Act coming into effect. As the independent health charity the Kings Fund put it, on social care “the coalition has made more progress in five years than the previous government did in thirteen”.

The Care Act creates new rights and protections for people who need care and new rights for the friends and family who selflessly care for them. It puts in place for the first time a national rules to determine when a person is eligible for care ending the unfair postcode lottery that existed in the past. This means that  people with the same level of care needs will now be treated in the same way wherever they live. It also puts people’s wellbeing at the heart of all care decisions, and creates new responsibilities for local authorities to make sure that support is available to stop people developing care needs in the first place.

Just as importantly, the Care Act finally ends the devastating unfairness that meant the most in need could be left facing catastrophic care costs. As Care Minister I asked the respected economist Sir Andrew Dilnott to chair a commission on this difficult issue within 8 weeks of forming a government, and when the commission reported I worked with Lib Dem colleagues to challenge Osborne’s intransigence and secured the money to fund it.

As a result we now have a cap on the catastrophic costs of care, giving people certainty and the ability to plan for their needs. As the Kings Fund put it “To make any headway at all on an issue that has eluded all previous attempts at reform – and in the toughest fiscal climate in living memory – is a big achievement.

The Care Act shows the difference Lib Dems can make in government, working together to build a fairer society for everyone.

* 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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4 Comments

  • Philip Thomas 1st Apr '15 - 10:11pm

    I did some training on the Care Act last week at work. It all looks well and good and sensible but it also seems to be placing a heavy burden on local authorities at a time when local authority funding is being cut…

  • There are some good things in the act and is certainly progress on the inaction under the previous Labour government.

    Lots still do though.

    At the front line care is delivered by poorly paid, poorly trained workers who are under constant pressure.

    Local authorities are struggling already with delivering decent services to elderly people, I worry that they are not going to be able to deal with these responsibilities.

    The ‘cap’ doesn’t come into force until next year and seems overly complicated.

    All that said the act is an example of an achievement for the Lib Dems in government because it wouldn’t have happened under a Tory or Labour administration.

  • Philip Thomas 2nd Apr '15 - 1:10pm

    Re the cap: Isn’t this straightforwardly regressive? Poor people would already have their care costs covered when their money runs out, so this benefits rich people by protecting their assets for the next generation.
    Am I missing something?

  • Philip Thomas 2nd Apr ’15 – 1:10pm

    You are not missing anything, Philip. You are hitting the nail on the head.

    This benefits rich people by protecting their assets for the next generation of their family.
    It is done at the expense of those poor families who have no property to leave to their children.

    It is similar to the obviously bogus “charitable” status that is given to the schools for the children of extremely rich people.

    Odd how Iain Duncan Smith and his ilk see this as entirely acceptable — whilst they are at the same time sanctioning people on benefits and watching the exponential rise in the number of food banks.

    Another £12 Billion every year will be cut from payments for the poor whilst these state subsidies to the rich will continue.

    The only way to stop this happening — is to make sure that nobody props up another Cameron government.

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