Care funding commission ‘must not forget disabled’

The commission set up this week to reform care funding must give equal weight to the needs of adults with lifelong conditions as older people, one of its...

The commission set up this week to reform care funding must give as much weight to the needs of adults with lifelong conditions as they do to older people, one of its three members has said.

In her first interview since her appointment, Jo Williams said people with lifelong conditions had particular funding needs due to a lack of assets, work or social opportunities, and the fact that few had their own accommodation.

She added: “That’s a group of people who clearly the commission will need to take account of as well as older people.”

Williams said she was drawing on her experience as chief executive of Mencap from 2003-8. Following her departure, the charity, among others, criticised Labour’s Green Paper on reforming care funding last year for neglecting the needs of younger disabled adults and concentrating on people who had developed care needs later in life after building up assets.

She was speaking before care services minister Paul Burstow ruled out the government accepting any commission recommendation to establish an estates tax to pay for care.

Williams also brings to the role a background as a social worker and a 30-year career in social services, including spells as director in Cheshire and Wigan and as president of the Association of Director of Social Services.

She was also confirmed this week as the government’s choice for chair of the Care Quality Commission, a post she has held on an interim basis for seven months.

The Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, which is chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot and also includes former social services director and Labour health minister Norman Warner, will hold its first meeting at the end of next month, Williams revealed.

However, it faces a tight timescale having been set targets to provide ministers with the criteria it will use to judge competing funding options by mid-September and also to feed into the government’s spending review, which is due to report on 20 October. Its final report is due by next July and Williams said she would be contributing one day a week to its work.

Williams said: “I don’t think [the timescale’s] negotiable. There’s an expectation that we will deliver to that date. We need to roll our sleeves up.”

She said the commission would have to decide how much capacity it had to “get the balance right between engagement, listening to people, taking evidence, reading documents and looking at what’s happening in other countries”.

Williams said the commission would draw upon previous evidence on the issue, which includes work done by the Labour government over the past year, but said she could not tell whether it would have to commission new evidence.

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