Jane Campbell urges action to allow users to move care packages

Disability and social care campaigner Jane Campbell is urging the government to allow disabled and older people to transfer their care packages when they move between council areas.

Last week, Campbell moved an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that would have placed councils under a duty to provide people who move into their areas with the same level of care as they received previously, for a transitional period.

Campbell, who is backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the absence of a statutory provision to guarantee the portability of care packages was “one of the most fundamental flaws of our social care system”.

Freedom of movement curtailed

She told the House of Lords the current situation, where service users had to be reassessed when they moved, meant their freedom of movement was dependent on local authorities, restricted employment opportunities and in some cases left them without critical support.

Government whip Baroness Thornton said while she sympathised with the intentions of the amendment, the issue would have to be considered as part of the six-month consultation on adult social care launched by the government this month.

Campbell said she would reintroduce the amendment at the bill’s next stage in the Lords and push it to a vote “unless there is a move to address the issue with the urgency I feel it now deserves”.

Guidance promised

However, Thornton did commit to issuing updated guidance by early 2009 on resolving disputes between councils over a service user’s “ordinary residence” – which determines which authority should be responsible for their care – following a consultation. She conceded that the current procedure, whereby disputes were referred to the health secretary was “long drawn out”. She said the guidance would ensure they were concluded more quickly.

Also in last week’s debate, the Lords accepted a government amendment that would give residents of care homes whose placements are publicly arranged recourse to the Human Rights Act 1998.

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