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Source: eGov monitor – A Policy Dialogue Platform
Published Wednesday, 17 November, 2010 – 09:42

The coalition government has set out plans to empower 1 Million adults in need of social care with personal care budgets by 2013 so that they can choose the services they need, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced yesterday, as he launched the document “A vision for adult social care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens’.

In last month’s spending review, long term care assistance for the elderly and the disabled escaped the Chancellor’s cuts and the Government has announced an additional £2 Billion for social care over the next four years. While the funding would be coming from the central government, the budget would be administered through local authorities.

In line with the Prime Minister David Cameron’s vision of a ” big society” – the new plans focuses on community based support services for preventative care as well as self reliance.  The Government seeks to break down the barriers between health and social care funding and envisions a care system which incorporates collaborative working between individuals, their local communities, local councils, the NHS as well as the voluntary sector.

Personal budgets were introduced in 1996, during John Major’s premiership, however only 13% of those eligible currently have one. The Care Services Minister emphasised that local authorities will provide personal care budgets to all those who are eligible within the next 3 years.

Ministers claim personal budgets Would provide “choice, control and independence” to citizens while “improving outcomes”.

Mr. Burstow said: “Social care is a vital service for many older, disabled and vulnerable people. Often people find the social care system confusing, inflexible and not suited to their needs – that’s not good enough. I want to see the vision brought into practice at a local level. Councils can offer more choice, control and flexibility over care, which is what people tell me they want.”

The Minister also announced that the government has accepted requests from local authorities to remove ring fencing from social care budgets, although some are worried whether that would impact upon the new money feeding through social care services considering the massive spending cuts the councils have to endure.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services welcomed the government’s vision. Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, believes that local authorities could “‘absolutely get going with this’.

‘Personalisation is not about how much money is in the system, it’s about how we operate and the approach we take when we work with citizens,’ he added.

The Local Government Association, too has welcomed the proposals outlined by the government, however it is concerned about local councils being able to meet the government’s target by 2013. Further, considering the demand is set to increase, councillors are worried whether there is adequate funding to make the vision a reality.

The National Autistic Society (NAS) supports the principles behind personal budgets, which offer people with autism and other disabilities choice and control over the support they receive. However, we are concerned that without the right measures in place, people may be allocated inadequate budgets or receive inappropriate support.

Mark Lever, chief executive, NAS, says: “The way that a personal budget is allocated is fundamental to its success and we therefore urge local councils to ensure that the assessment takes into account those with complex conditions like autism.

“Due to the nature of autism, and individual’s difficulties with social interaction and communication, assessors must have an understanding of the condition in order to ascertain people’s needs and calculate the support budget they require. An accurate personal budget can give people with autism far more independence and choice over their care. Being given control of an inadequate budget however, will not help anyone gain self-sufficiency.

“It is also essential that individuals are given the necessary support to manage their budgets by people who understand them and their autism. If the right support is not available in the local area or the individual does not know how to access it, then the system only sets people up to fail.”

‘We welcome the Government’s commitment to reforming the social care system in England especially their plans to break down barriers between health and social care in order to provide better care and support,”Mike Hobday, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support said.

‘For as long as local health and social care decision makers mistakenly consider cancer as solely an acute, and not a long-term condition, cancer patients and their carers will continue to be abandoned to cope alone with the financial, practical and emotional problems caused by their diagnosis or treatment.”

‘Cancer must be included in the debate about the future of social care and Macmillan is determined that the needs of cancer patients and carers will be addressed in the Government’s White Paper next year.’

Source:  http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/39466



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