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The Care Bill: what’s new and how does it affect carers?

PRTC-111So the Care Bill (formerly known as the draft Care and Support Bill) has been published by the Government and was debated for the first time yesterday in the House of Lords.

I have been looking at the new legislation since the draft Bill was published last July, so the Care Bill feels a bit like an old friend. It’s been highlighted and scribbled on, noting the good bits and bad bits, and we’ve been talking to the Government and the Joint Select Committee in Parliament about how the Bill can be improved.

So, what’s in the Care Bill now and how has it changed? Importantly, will it really make a difference to carers’ lives? Here are some of the key changes…


Duty to promote wellbeing and prevent need for support

A key element of the legislation is the promotion of people’s wellbeing to prevent a crisis point being reached. Many people are not eligible for support from the State, but the Bill recognises that this shouldn’t exclude people from being able to access the right information and advice or from an assessment which would identify what kind of support is available in their community. We are pleased to see that the Bill now makes it clear that carers’ wellbeing should be promoted and that local authorities should reduce carers’ needs for support. But we also think these duties should include access to advocacy (independent support to help navigate available options).

Duty to assess carers’ needs, including the whole family

The Bill proposes new rights for carers so that for the first time they will have the same rights to assessment and support as the people they care for. A couple of helpful changes to the Bill make it clear that carers’ needs should be assessed before any financial assessment – previously we were worried that many carers would be excluded if  they were above financial thresholds. Carers’ assessments must now include assessment of the day-to-day life outcomes that the carer wishes to achieve — another welcome move.

Meeting carers’ needs and charging for services

We are still concerned that local authorities will be allowed to charge for carers services, although the Bill now says that some exceptions can be made, for example for preventative services. However, this is not enough to ensure that carers are never charged. We know that it makes economic sense to support carers and we also know how important it is that carers are not charged unnecessarily for services that may be for the person they are looking after.
Carers Trust is calling on the Government to look again at this part of the law.

Sufficient services to allow carers to work

A very welcome development is that the law now includes a duty on local authorities to provide sufficient services in their area so that carers are able to participate in work, education or training. In too many cases, carers are unable to work because of the lack of care provided to the person they are looking after.

Parent carers and young carers

If it appears that a young carer may have needs for support after becoming 18 they will now be able to request an assessment under the adult law, regardless of whether they already receive support. However, Carers Trust doesn’t think that young people should have to request this assessment and we are very disappointed that the law still doesn’t provide equal rights for parent carers or for young carers.

Funding social care

You may have already heard that the Bill now also includes proposals made by the Dilnot Commission. It introduces a cap on social care costs and the upper capital limit is being raised to reduce the risk of people having to use most of their assets to pay for care. We are going in the right direction but the social care system is already seriously underfunded. With rising demand for support, the Government must act to addressthis funding crisis, so that new duties for support will actually make a difference to carers’ lives.


The Care Bill also includes provision for personal budgets and direct budgets for carers and new duties around safeguarding.

The full briefing will be published on Carers.org. For further information, please contact me: Emma Smale, Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer, esmale@carers.org

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May 22, 2013 - Posted by | Law, Uncategorized | , ,

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