Information and advice
The Act requires local authorities to establish and maintain an information and advice service in their area. The information and advice service must cover the needs of all its population, not just those who are in receipt of care or support which is arranged or funded by the local authority.
Information and advice is fundamental to enabling people, carers and families to take control of and make well-informed choices about their care and support.
Not only does information and advice help to promote people’s wellbeing by increasing their ability to exercise choice and control, it is also a vital component of preventing or delaying people’s need for care and support.
The draft guidance on information and advice covers:
- ensuring the availability of information and advice services for all people
- who in particular might benefit from information and advice
- the local authority role with respect to financial information and advice
- the accessibility and proportionality of information and advice
- the development of plans/strategies to meet local needs
Local authorities, working with partners must use the wider opportunities to provide targeted information and advice at key points in people’s contact with the care and support, health and other local services.
Respond to question 5 below.
The new funding arrangements introduced by the Act, access to deferred payments from 2015 and the cap on care costs from 2016, have all increased the importance of people’s access to financial information and advice that is independent of the local authority.
The guidance seeks to make clear the local authority’s role in actively identifying and supporting people who would benefit from financial information and advice. It recognises that finance is an integral part of a person’s consideration of care and support options and in supporting them to make the best and most appropriate individual choices.
Local authorities must be able to describe the general benefits of financial information and advice and be able to explain the benefits to an individual. While authorities may not wish to make a direct referral to an individual independent financial adviser, they should actively help and direct a person to a choice of adviser.
Respond to question 6 below.
At the Budget, the Government announced plans to give people greater flexibility and choice over their retirement options. The proposals, including plans to provide financial information and support at retirement (the ‘guidance guarantee’ will be a free, impartial and face-to-face offering that explains an individual’s range of options to help them make informed choices about taking their pension pot) and beyond, can be found here and the consultation is open until 11 June 2014.
We see retirement as a key point at which people should be considering and planning for future care and support needs and as such recognise the importance of ensuring these two policies are complementary. The Department of Health will work with HM Treasury to ensure that this guidance for local authorities reflects the outcome of the consultation.