The Care Act and Associated Statutory Guidance

The Care Act came into force in April 2015 enshrining the principle of “wellbeing” for all into UK law for the first time. The wellbeing principle covers the key components of independent living, as expressed in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Article 19 states that people with disabilities have the right to live independently in the community. Furthermore, countries must ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to choose where and with whom they live and should be provided with the necessary support to make this possible.

Embedding these principles into UK statute is a welcome development which builds on the foundations already laid by the personalisation agenda and key concepts such as self-directed support and choice and control.

Starting with Direct Payments, Personal Budgets and now Personal Health Budgets and the integration of Health and Social care, service users and patients have more choice than ever before in how they organise their support.

The Care Act provides a legal framework to underpin this by providing a right to live as independently as possiblealongside outcome based assessments to monitor and review packages of support.

Informal Carers;

The Care Act also sets out for the first time a clear duty on local authorities to meet carer’s needs for support.Placing their rights on a statutory footing and lowering the threshold for an assessment recognises the vital and undervalued contribution carers make to society.

As a result of this change Local authorities in England are expected to carry out an additional 250,000 carers assessments in 2015/16.

Direct Payments:

The only material change (as from April 2015) with regard to the Direct Payment legislation is a relaxing of the rules around employing family members.Councils can now make payments whenever they feel it is necessary to do so as opposed to in “exceptional circumstances” only.

Aside from this, the Act and associated statutory guidance for Local Authorities support much of the best practice already happening across the country.

For example, on the topic of financial monitoring, the guidance states the following;

12.4 For direct payments to have the maximum impact, the processes involved in administering and monitoring the payment should incorporate the minimal elements to allow the local authority to fulfil its statutory responsibilities.

This confirms a commitment to honour previous, yet often unmet, calls supporting a “lighter touch” when monitoring the use of Direct Payments.

Redundancy

Regarding the responsibility to pay redundancy payments for Personal Assistant’s the statutory guidance is very clear;

12.29. Specific information should also be given to people about the requirements to have plans in place for redundancy payments…..The local authority must ensure that the direct payment is sufficient to meet these costs if it is appropriate for the adult to meet their needs by employing someone.

It then goes on to offer a degree of flexibility with regard to how the payment of redundancy payments are managed;

12.30. This could include using any unspent direct payment to contribute to any redundancy costs, having insurance in place that covers redundancy, or the local authority agreeing to cover redundancy payments through the direct payment amount.

A snapshot of the other major changes;

The Care Act introducesa requirement for Local Authorities to;

- Promote integration between Health and Social care and co-operate with other relevant partners.

- Provide universal information and advice to all citizens.

- Create new statutory safeguarding bodies.

April 2016;

In April 2016 three remaining changes of the Act will come into force;

- A cap of 72k on the amount anybody should spend on their own care is being introduced. Once this cap has been reached the state will fund the remaining care costs.

- Independent Personal Budgets will be introduced for “self-funders” in order to monitor when a person has reached the cap i.e. to determine when the LA will step in and cover the cost of care. Councils will therefore be required to assess self-funders to determine how much they would have been entitled to in the event that the person were financially eligible for support.

- Direct Payments will be available for residential care placements pending the outcome of pilots currently underway in 18 local authority areas.

We will of course update you further as and when we can!