Personal Care: LGA calls for independent report

The Local Government Association has put forward amendments to delay implementation of the government’s controversial bill to introduce free care at home and to review its costs.

Amid widespread concern over the impact of the Personal Care at Home Bill on council budgets, LGA president and crossbench peer Lord Best has tabled the amendments for the bill’s committee stage in the House of Lords next Monday.

The proposals would put back implementation from October 2010 until next April and ensure that an annual independent review is carried out on the costs of providing free care at home for people with high needs and the impact on council budgets.

The government already faces amendments that could delay implementation of the bill or substantially alter it by making the introduction of free care optional for councils.

The LGA is concerned that government estimates of the costs of implementing the bill – £670m a year, £250m of which would fall on councils – are too low, and has urged ministers to pledge to make up any shortfall rather than leave this to councils.

It has also said councils would struggle to implement the plans in October because an assessment tool to determine eligibility for free care is only likely to be produced in the summer.

The policy would only apply to people with critical care needs – under the Fair Access to Care Services system – who also need help with four or more activities of daily living, such as washing and dressing.

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