Care Act failing as councils cut spending, warns disability charity

2 Jun 16

A charity has claimed that the Care Act has failed after revealing that council spending on support for disabled people and carers fell in the first year after implementation.

The research from Revitalise, a national disabled persons’ charity, found that in the year since the legislation came into effect in April 2015, over half (55%) of England’s local authorities had spent less overall on services for people with disabilities and carers.

Funding was down by an estimated £397m, according to freedom of information requests by the charity. This is despite the act – the biggest shake up to the system in decades – entitling all disabled people and carers to an assessment of their support needs alongside a minimum eligibility threshold for care.

Revitalise also found that local authorities gave fewer needs assessments for disabled people during the first year of the Care Act than in the year before it, and half (48%) had carried out an average of 22% fewer carer assessments during the same period.

Revitalise chief executive Chris Simmonds said that despite its laudable intentions, until local authorities got behind the principles of the Care Act – and are provided with enough funding to do so – disabled people and carers would struggle to achieve the most basic quality of life.

“For the first time in 60 years, a piece of legislation has come along which purports to enshrine and protect the rights, dignity and independence of disabled people and carers, but it has become abundantly clear from our own research that the Care Act has failed to make any meaningful impact on the quality of life of the people it sets out to support – and in many respects their situation appears to have got worse. This is a tragedy,” he stated.

The charity urged local authorities to approach all disabled people and carers in their area to offer carer or needs assessments, and also called for more funding from central government to enable local authorities to meet the duties in the legislation.

Responding to this report, Local Government Association community wellbeing spokeswoman Izzi Seccombe agreed the legislation had the potential to radically improve the lives of older people, people with disabilities and their carers, and councils had done everything they could to implement the reforms.

“However, the continuing underfunding of adult social care by government has limited councils' ability to provide support to vulnerable people and their carers,” she added. “Less than a third of councils say they are confident there is enough money to meet growing levels of need this year and beyond.

“The government's social care precept has enabled councils to raise council tax by 2% to meet the rising costs of social care. While this extra income will help, it will in many cases have to be spent on additional cost pressures such as inflation and increased demand for care from an ageing population, and the recent introduction of the national living wage that will increase care costs.”

Ministers should, at the very least, bring forward the £700m of new funding earmarked for social care through the Better Care Fund by the end of the decade to ease funding pressures, she added.

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