The government has not gone cold on reforming adult social care funding because of the £2bn-a-year cost of implementing Andrew Dilnot’s reforms, care services minister Paul Burstow has insisted.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference, Burstow insisted the government was committed to reforming adult social care because there was a “clear compelling economic case.”
“Taking steps to reform now can prevent caring for the elderly becoming a brake on the economy,” said the minister and added: “How we pay for care is critical. It’s one we are determined to resolve.”
However, he was careful not to commit the government to implementing Dilnot’s recommendations and instead said the work of the Dilnot commission pointed out ways that care could be paid for.
The government’s response will come in a White Paper next year, which it is currently conducting an “engagement exercise” to inform its proposals. In a session today at the conference, Dilnot said he was confident that the government was still committed to care funding reform, and said the suggestion that the reforms were unaffordable was “simply wrong”.
Burstow said that adult social care had been cut by 1% in 2011-12, much lower than the 4.7% overall estimated cut in resources for local authorities this year, suggesting councils had protected the service.
However, the minister attacked the way some authorities had gone about making cuts.
Burstow admitted he was “concerned” that a further six authorities had set their eligibility criteria at critical in response to the budget cuts.
And he castigated some councils for making decisions on which services to cut based on “hopeless short-termism” rather than redesigning services to focus on prevention and early intervention.
He also called for the pace to be picked up on rolling out personalisation and for greater take-up of personal budgets through direct payments.
“There are still too many people who could benefit from personal budgets or direct payments and are missing out,” he said as he called for a “spotlight” to be shone on councils that were performing poorly on personalisation.
Burstow added that the Department for Work and Pensions was set to publish a document on options to replace the Independent Living Fund, which is due to be scrapped in 2015, and the role that local government could play in any future arrangement.
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