News Story

CSA members respond to Government’s proposed eligibility criteria for social care (06 June 2014)

June 6, 2014

The Government has today published its proposals for who will and who won’t get social care from 2015 under the new Care Act, with new national criteria for social care eligibility.

CSA members have been responding to the announcement.

Sense: Threshold for social care “far too high”

National deafblind charity Sense today (06 June) warned that many older and disabled people will miss out on services they desperately need, following the Government’s publication of a consultation on who is eligible for social care under the new Care Act.

Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive at Sense, said:

“The Care Act is an incredible opportunity for politicians to finally get social care right in the UK. However, under the regulations released today the threshold for people to become eligible for social care is set far too high. As a result, many older and disabled people will miss out on the services they desperately need for day-to-day life. It is also vital that the Government releases enough funds for local authorities to provide the right level of support for what is currently a chronically underfunded system. Otherwise the Care Act will be built on sand.

“Inadequate social care has a knock on effect and results in further demands on the NHS. For example, the deafblind people we support can become more susceptible to falls or require hospital treatment because they didn’t get the support they needed from social care.

“Sense will be responding to the consultation and aiming to ensure that the steps forward made in the Act are not lost.”

British Red Cross

In response to the publication of national levels of eligibility for care today (06 June), British Red Cross managing director of operations, Mike Adamson, said:

“It is clear to us and the 400,000 people we support every year that getting the right care at the right time is crucial to the quality of life of older and vulnerable people in this country.

“Yet the Government’s eligibility regulations as they currently stand mean that from 2015, hundreds of thousands of people who need care risk not getting any state-funded support. This includes people who need assistance to get out and about, manage their finances and shopping, and even communicate with relatives, friends and colleagues.

“Although the Care Act’s focus on prevention is a welcome ambition, it will not be enough to support these people. Funding for prevention is already limited and there is simply not enough to cover everyone who is ineligible for care. Indeed, our own research shows that less than a quarter (23%) of Councillors think the Act will have a positive impact on constituents with low-level needs.

“Yet adequate support can make the difference between a fulfilling life in which someone can participate in society or a complete loss of independence.

“A system which truly promotes wellbeing, prevention and integration will need the Government to be bold and to ensure that funding reaches the right parts of the health and social care system. This may mean challenging ways of working and vested interests to release cash from one part to another. Without adequate funding in the right places, there is a real risk of jeopardising the Care Bill’s good intentions.”

The British Red Cross provides health and social care services to 400,000 people in the UK every year, providing low-level, high impact support at home, transport to and from hospital and loans of mobility aids.

It is a member of the Care and Support Alliance, a consortium of 75 organisations that represent and support older and disabled people, and campaigns to keep adult care funding and reform on the political agenda.

Midland Heart

Commenting on the Government’s publication of a consultation on who is eligible for social care under the new Care Act, Ruth Cooke CEO Midland Heart calls for the sector to think differently:

“How can we make sure that the growing number of vulnerable over 65’s get the improved outcomes they need?

“The challenge for the Government is funding.  Councils are having to reduce their care budgets, which could limit the essential services that maximise independence for older vulnerable people.  Vital services that allow people to live their lives with dignity and respect and that can prevent an individual ending up in acute A&E.

“The challenge to the sector is to fundamentally change. I believe that this change can only begin when we break free of silo mentalities and the common belief that what we currently do is right.  We know there is an appetite to join up housing and health – our Cedarwood reablement service is an example of integration.  How can we make services like this the norm and not the exception?

“Health leaders need to be given time to explore new approaches to drive change at a very local level, to be intrepid and look beyond the rules and structures from the past that are limiting us now, to succeed in developing a truly integrated care system built around the people that need it.”

Independent Age

Andrew Kaye, Head of Policy at Independent Age says:

“The Care Act is a bold and welcome piece of legislation. However, the fine aspirations behind this change in the law need to be backed up by realistic levels of funding. The promise of the Care Act to promote individual wellbeing risks being undermined unless local authorities are properly funded to meet the needs of an ageing population. We estimate for example that the residential care sector alone could be under-funded by around £700 million a year.

“This three-month consultation provides us with a vital opportunity to strengthen the rules governing who gets charged what for their care. We want to see more protection for older people and their relatives so they don’t unwittingly pay more for their care home fees than they need to. Too many families feel they have no other option than to ‘top up’ care home fees and pay for care they cannot afford.

“We want to see more transparency in the system so people only pay a top-up through choice, not necessity.

“We are concerned that the flagship reform – a ‘cap’, or financial limit on the costs an individual has to pay for their own care – won’t really cap all the costs a typical person might face in residential care. We also know that only 8% of men aged 85 and 15% of women over this age really stand to benefit from the cap once it is introduced in 2016. We welcome plans to end the ‘catastrophic’ care costs someone might face over a four- or five- year period once they have moved into a care home, but the cap will only ever benefit a minority. The Government needs to be clear and up-front with people about what the care cap actually puts a cap on.

“There is a serious risk hundreds of thousands of older people will continue to be locked out of care and support under the current proposals on eligibility for council help”.