ANEC response to new Care Act regulations

20 August 2014

Earlier this year, Parliament passed the Care Act 2014, which makes major changes to the way that care and support is provided to people who require it.

Some of the Act’s provisions will come into force in April 2015. These include elements such as the general duty to provide care and support; the duty to provide information and advice; assessing people’s needs and eligibility for care and support. The Department of Health has published draft guidance and regulations setting out how these requirements will work in practice.

ANEC – with the support of the North East Association of Directors of Adult Social Services – has submitted a response, which focuses on some key questions that will demand very careful consideration. These include:

•    The duty to provide advice, especially financial advice – it needs to be made clear exactly what is expected from local authorities, and it may be better to describe their role as one of signposting people towards existing sources of regulated, independent financial advice from which they would be free to choose. It should also be clear that the focus of such advice should be on supporting people’s planning for their future care and support, and not on minimising any charges they may have to pay;

•    Market-shaping and commissioning – the Act gives local authorities a new duty to facilitate a vibrant and sustainable market for high quality care and support in their area, and the guidance sets out the steps that authorities should take to develop local approaches to market-shaping and commissioning. However, this is difficult to balance with personalisation of care – tailoring of care packages to meet individuals’ needs – which means that the market should be shaped primarily by service users. It is also more difficult than the guidance assumes to predict future levels of demand for services;

•    Needs assessments – there is an increasing emphasis on specialist assessment for a range of different conditions. However, local authorities are confident that their assessors already identify where specialist input into an assessment is required and can source this through existing mechanisms;

•    Eligibility – the Care Act introduces the concept of a national minimum eligibility threshold, and the draft regulations set out the eligibility criteria for care and support. The ANEC response spells out very clearly that the new threshold will produce an increase in demand, and that given the budget reductions that authorities have already had to meet, and increasing demographic pressures, authorities will not be able to absorb these new burdens without additional funding.

Other reforms, such as the cap on the total care costs that an individual will have to pay in their lifetime, will come into force in April 2016 and will be subject to a separate consultation later this year.

Read the full response here.