Draft bill on social care announced in Queen’s speech

Funding of care remains unclear

A draft bill on adult care and support in England has been announced in the Queen’s speech today.

The issue of how care is to be paid for, however, remains unclear.

The Department of Health said the draft bill will help people “plan, prepare and make informed choices about their care” by setting out what support they can expect from the government.

The main elements of the draft bill are: modernising the legal framework for care and support, responding to the Law Commission’s recommendations in its review into social care law, and establishing Health Education England and the Health Research Authority as non-departmental public bodies.

Chris Horlick, managing director of care at Partnership, said the draft bill appears to be focusing on enshrining the Law Commission’s proposals into legislation, while the “critical” issue of how care is to be funded is conspicuous by its absence.

He said: “We very much hope to get clarity about this in the social care white paper due in late May or early June. Commentators are suggesting that any bill to enact funding arrangements may be delayed further until the 2013/4 parliamentary session.

“Practically this means that if anyone was going into residential care today they would have to live for a significant length of time before they saw any benefit from any legislation.”

He added there is a risk that many people going into care are deferring obtaining advice because they believe that legislation on funding is imminent when this is not in fact the case.

He said: “It is important that care fees advisers take steps to ensure that their clients recognise the importance of planning adequately to fund their long-term care needs.”

Michelle Mitchell, director-general of charity Age UK, said that while a draft bill represents a degree of progress, a full bill would have been far better.

She said: “As it is, this means no legislation for at least a year to drive the reform of social care law and funding that we desperately need.

'We accept that these reforms have to be got right and we want to work with the Government to make sure this happens; nonetheless, the millions of older people and their families who depend on good social care and who are often not able to get it will be asking why, yet again, they are being made to wait.'

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