The new legal framework, set out in the draft Care and Support Bill, will make the role of local authorities clearer than ever before, removing more than 60 years of complicated and confusing law. It will remove unnecessary legal barriers, free up time spent navigating the old laws, and provide new flexibility by focusing on the needs of local people, rather than just what services should be provided.
The new legal framework will create a single defining purpose for care and support for the first time – to promote people’s wellbeing. It will balance the traditional responsibilities of local authorities towards people with higher needs with the broader role that they want to adopt for the whole local community. It will require local authorities to provide help earlier to try to prevent, delay or reduce people’s needs for care and support, rather than wait for them to reach a crisis point.
From April 2015 we will introduce a national minimum eligibility threshold for care and support in England. This will make it easier to decide what care people are entitled to. We will make it easier for people to move between local authorities, without worrying that they may lose the care they need.
By 2013, everyone needing state-funded care will be offered a personal budget as part of their care and support plan, preferably as a direct payment. People will have the right to request a direct payment if they want to.
We will work with local authorities, care providers, people who use services and carers to prevent care being commissioned based on care visits that are too short.
We will consult later this year on central oversight of the social care market, with continuity of care – not the provider – being the core principle.
The new legal framework will also clarify local authorities’ duty to make sure no-one is left homeless or without care if a provider fails.
To help local authorities manage their local market, we are making support available, through an independent body, for each local authority to develop or improve its market position statement. This is a statement containing information about the services available locally, including public health, housing and leisure services, and explaining how the local authority plans to commission services in the future. Find out more about the support available.