The timetable for drafting a single adult social care law has been brought forward to coincide with planned reform of long-term care funding.
The government has requested that the final report of the Law Commission’s review of adult care law be brought forward from its original deadline of the summer of 2011 to the end of April 2011. A bill will be drafted after feedback from the government.
The move is designed to help co-ordinate the Law Commission’s work with that of the planned commission on the funding of long-term care, which is expected to be set up shortly and report within a year.
The government has pledged to legislate on funding reform in the 2011-12 session of parliament, and the Law Commission’s new timetable may enable ministers to tie this together with wider law reform.
The Law Commission is consulting on the future of 38 adult social care laws with the view to bringing them into one statute. It hopes this will save social workers time and make service users’ rights clearer.
Sector chiefs said the latest announcement showed the government is taking the reform of adult social care seriously.
However, Caroline Bernard, deputy chief executive of Counsel and Care, said: “It has to be done properly – and it will be what takes place after April 2011 that will show just how serious the government is about reforming social care.”
Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, added: “The trick will be in drafting aspiration into legal principles and balancing entitlement with capacity in the system to respond. If this is not clear in terms of the law a number of funding options won’t work as people will struggle to understand why they should make a contribution to care costs outside of a clear core offer from publically funded services.”
The deadline for submissions to the commission on its consultation proposals remains 1 July.
The Law Commission’s proposals include lowering the threshold for assessment of service users,introducing a single eligibility criteria framework for service users and carers and bringing in a duty to safeguard vulnerable adults, including those funding their own care.