The Queen's Speech: Adult care reforms delayed


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Indy Politics

Elderly and disabled adults receiving care were promised more power to make decisions about the support they get in today's Queen's Speech.

But more fundamental reform campaigners say is needed to end a "crisis" in England's care system was put off until after the much-delayed publication of a Government White Paper, expected in the summer.

Yesterday, a coalition of 78 charities and campaign groups sent an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to take urgent action to end the "lottery" under which some older people lose their homes and their life savings to pay care home bills while others are left to "struggle on alone, living in misery and fear".

Last year's Dilnot Commission proposed a cap of between £35,000 and £50,000 on the amount people would have to contribute to their care in old age. The report in July said no one with savings and assets under £100,000 should be required to pay for care, rather than the current threshold of £23,500.

But delays in the completion of all-party talks on the proposals have led campaigners to fear that the issue is being kicked into the long grass.

The Queen's Speech today includes only a draft Care and Support Bill, which makes no mention of financial arrangements for care.

Ministers said the Bill would modernise the legal framework for care to "support the vision" of reforms eventually set out in the White Paper.

They promised to engage widely on any reforms with people with relevant experience and expertise.

The draft Bill will set out what support people can expect from the state and what action the Government will take to help them prepare and make informed choices about their care.

It will require local authorities to fit their services around users' needs, rather than expecting them to fit in with what is available locally.

It will also "put people in control of their care and give them greater choice, building on progress with personal budgets", said ministers.

Systems and processes will be simplified to provide social workers with more freedom and flexibility to innovate.

Existing laws scattered around at least a dozen Acts will be consolidated in a single statute, supported by new regulations and guidance.

The legislation will create a new London Health Improvement Board and establish Health Education England and the Health Research Authority as non-departmental public bodies.