By 2015 local authority budgets will have shrunk by 28%, placing growing pressures on social care spending and provision. When recent research (pdf download) shows that one out of every three recipients of social care are between the ages of 18 and 64, the £1.2 billion under-funding of social care for working age disabled adults represents a real concern. This translates into real anxiety for the 105,000 disabled people who risk losing out on the care and support vital to control their everyday lives.
Since the coalition Government pledged to reform the social care system in 2010, the Dilnot Commission’s report on social care funding and the Law Commission’s report on social care legislation have both been published.
Perhaps most crucially the long awaited Care and Support Bill has now been published.
These documents have promoted much discussion about the direction of reform. The debate in Parliament and in the Press has however largely focused on reforming the social care system for older people, overlooking the 40%of disabled working age adults whose basic needs are not being met.
Scope is working alongside the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Government (APPGLG) in conjunction with the All Party Parliamentary Disability Group (APPDG) to undertake an inquiry into the ways in which the social care system needs to be reformed to meet the needs of working age disabled people in England.
The basis of the inquiry will be formed from the following areas:
1. The right to independent living.
The very first clause of the draft Care and Support Bill focuses on promoting ‘individual wellbeing’. Under this clause, specific reference is made to ‘control by the adult over day-to-day life’ as well as ‘participation in work, education, training or recreation’.
2. Impact of changes to eligibility.
The Dilnot Commission estimated that social care services are under-resourced by £2bn. These services are currently being further squeezed by the pressures of an ageing population and a 28% reduction in local council budgets by 2014/15. In response many local authorities have been raising the threshold at which disabled people become eligible for support. In 2005, 50% of local authorities set their eligibility criteria at ‘moderate’ needs. By 2012, 84% had set their eligibility criteria at the higher ‘substantial’ needs [Figure 3, page 8: Care in Crisis, Age UK (2012)].
3. The value of preventative care.
Research suggests that early intervention can have a significant impact in reducing the need for more expensive social care interventions at a later date. This also stops demand being placed on other statutory services, such as health services. It has also been suggested that early intervention works best when funding and services are properly integrated. Despite this, the challenge in properly integrating local authority and health budgets still appears to remain.
4. Dilnot funding proposals and working age disabled people.
The Dilnot Commission made a set of clear recommendations for a new funding system for social care. These proposals aimed to make the system fairer, easier to understand and sustainable. Professor Dilnot estimated the cost of his proposals to be approximately £1.7bn.
As the government continues to develop the Care and Support Bill, the evidence submitted to the inquiry will inform recommendations made to the Department about the best way to reform social care for working age disabled adults to enable disabled adults to continue to play a vital role in their local community.
The final report of the inquiry will incorporate and acknowledge extracts from selected submissions.
For more information about the inquiry and how to submit written evidence before the 19 March 2013 deadline please go to http://www.scope.org.uk/campaigns/social-care-and-support/appg-inquiry-social-care.