Social workers will gain ‘freedom to innovate’ from care law

Social workers would be given the freedom to innovate in supporting clients under a draft bill announced in the Queen's speech, but no pledges have been made on reforming care funding.

Social workers to have more freedom over their practice (Rex Features)
Social workers to have more freedom over their practice (Rex Features)

Social workers would be given the freedom to innovate in improving support for older and disabled people under draft care and support legislation announced in today’s Queen’s speech.

The government said the draft bill would also extend personalisation, improve information and advice for service users and consolidate existing legislation on adult social care into a single statute, in line with recommendations put forward last year by the Law Commission.

However, campaigners have slammed the failure to include any details about funding reform in the proposals and the fact that a full bill on reforming social care will now be delayed until the 2013-14 session of Parliament. This is despite the government saying in July 2010 that it would aim to introduce legislation in the [2012-13] session of this Parliament to “establish a sustainable legal and financial framework for adult social care”. 

“We are deeply disappointed that the Queen’s speech did not contain a full social care reform bill – as will the millions of older or disabled people let down by the current system of care,” said Simon Gillespie, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of over 60 social care charities and organisations. “The government has effectively broken its promise to introduce legislation to sort out social care in the second session of Parliament, and failed to grasp the urgency of tackling a crisis that is currently condemning too many older or disabled people to a miserable existence.”

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Sarah Pickup welcomed the inclusion of a draft bill, but called on the government to “recognise the urgency of the situation we face” in respect of the underfunding of adult social care.

“We fully understand the wide variety of problems facing the coalition government and the economic, social and political complexities which surround them,” she added. “But the care system for adults, be they elderly and frail, and/or disabled in any way, is inadequate to meet their needs.”

Further details on the draft bill will be included in the government’s White Paper on care reform, due shortly.

The DH said the draft bill would aim to simplify processes, “to provide the freedom and flexibility needed by local authorities and social workers to allow them to innovate and achieve better results for people”.

By modernising the law on care and support, it would also help ensure services were “built around the needs, outcomes and experience of people”, rather than “expecting them to adapt to what is available locally”.

The draft bill will be subject to scrutiny by a parliamentary committee, which will enable people to feed in their views through consultation.

Community Care Live

Next week’s Community Care Live provides the first major opportunity for social care professionals to quiz care services minister Paul Burstow on today’s proposals. Register now for your free place.

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