News from Parliament
News From Parliment
Two hugely important pieces of legislation passed through Parliament earlier this year and are now signed into the Statute Books. They were the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014. Both will have a huge impact on Carers. There is a huge amount of detail to go through and so this can only be a very basic summary: each Act is between 160 and 260 pages long!
Children and Families Act 2014
From September this year, local authorities are scrapping the old statementing system and introducing Education Health Care Plans (EHC’s), which will support a child up to the age of 25. EHC’s look at a child’s support needs across education, health and social care and should put an end to arguments about who will fund what.
Young carers are given more rights than they’ve ever had, making it mandatory to assess their needs. However, there is no absolute duty to ensure those needs are met.
Parent Carers, too, have a right to an assessment, if the authority believes they may have needs for support or if the parent requests an assessment. The authority must consider the parents well-being. Again, there is no absolute duty to ensure that the parent’s needs are met. However, the current legal requirement to consider a parent’s needs around leisure, education and work will end on 31st March 2014. Parent carers are the most likely to care for many, many years, and this is therefore the group most likely to suffer ill health without support.
We would always recommend that parents request a Carer’s assessment. There have been cases where parents have attempted suicide (sometimes succeeding) or gone through child protection proceedings, and in other cases the families have split. All too often these were preventable.
Care Act 2014
The Care Act comes into force in stages over the next couple of years, and refers only to adults and carers of adults. The first principle of the Act is that “well-being” is at the core of the local authorities’ responsibilities. This responsibility extends to all adults-whether a “service user” or a Carer.
Local authorities should work in a way that prevents or delays the development or worsening of care needs, and this includes ensuring that Carers receive “preventative” services.
There is a duty to ensure that people can access good quality information and advice about care and support, and also about finances. You will see a number of changes in local advice services over the coming months that should reflect that.
Assessments should be carried out on the “appearance of need”- eligibility is to be decided during/after the assessment. Financial resources must not be considered until after the assessment – just as now. Unfortunately we still hear of cases where people are refused an assessment because they’d “have to pay anyway”. Carers must be consulted and they must have an assessment unless they decide they do not want one. Carers should never have to request an assessment from April 1st next year.
Assessments should take a whole family approach – which may mean more than one Carers Assessment.
Eligibility for services will come from national criteria, so there should be no more “postcode lotteries”. There will be a set of criteria for people needing care, and a set for Carers.
Broadly speaking, whatever “eligible” needs are determined by an assessment, the local authority must meet them, even for Carers.
Local authorities can charge for services-including for Carers’ services. However, although the current legal situation is fairly clear about what is and is not a Carer’s service, the new legislation is less clear.
Care packages will continue if an individual moves home to another local authority area. As eligibility criteria will be exactly the same, the existing assessment will stand until the new local authority decides to review it.
Safeguarding duties also come into law for the first time.
Also, the way services are charged for will change. This particular change will be split over two years. Firstly, local authorities must operate a deferred charges scheme, not all authorities do so at present, but will implement this from April 2015.
From April 2016, there will be a “cap” on social care costs of £72,000. However Carers services do not appear to be part of this “cap”-hence the need for clarity about what constitutes a Carer’s service. Accommodation costs in residential care do not count towards the cap and only the cost of eligible care needs will count.
As you can see, there’s a lot to take in and local authorities are working hard to make sure that they are ready for change. It’s likely that there will be increased costs to local authorities in making sure that they meet all of their new duties: a very conservative estimate is that the number of Carers assessments will at least double.
The Children and Families Act 2014 can be fund by clicking here