New Clause 1 — Adult safeguarding access order

Part of Care Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 10th March 2014.

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Photo of David Ward David Ward Liberal Democrat, Bradford East 6:00 pm, 10th March 2014

I will try to hit my five-minute target by excluding a lot of other comments, including on the eligibility criteria, which I have spoken about at length on other occasions.

The shadow Minister, Liz Kendall effectively made the case about the false economy, whereby the criteria are at the wrong level and people’s conditions deteriorate, so they and the state face a greater cost. My right hon. Friend Paul Burstow referred to the provision to identify patients who are or may become carers. I am concerned about carers who end up becoming patients or needing care because of a lack of support. We need to consider that, too.

I will confine my comments to new clauses 7 and 9. Without those, the rest is almost irrelevant. My right hon. Friend referred to the elephant in the room. An elephant in the room is something we are vaguely aware of; we know it is there but we are not prepared to talk about it. Out there, people are talking about the crucial issue of whether these services can be afforded. So much in the Bill is so good, but we are in danger of casting doubt on the deliverability of what we know is good and on whether it can be implemented.

As is often the case, it is no use relying on the good old principle of localism and local authorities making the decision to pick up these things. There is a difference between localism that is freedom and localism that is an abrogation of responsibility by Government to fund services during a national crisis. If we get that wrong, we will simply give local authorities the freedom to fail. We need to ensure that that does not happen.

The sad thing is that, although there is so much good will out there for the Bill— we are in grave danger of not responding to the comments of the voluntary and community sector and the public sector generally on the principles of the Bill and many of its provisions—there is a suspicion that, at the end of the day, we cannot deliver on it. The question is why would we not support new clauses 7 and 9. We are asking for assurances, not for additional money, because the truth is we do not really know. We are asking for assurances through a review. We are asking not for additional funding but for a commitment to a review.

I was going to give a grand finale about the voyage into the unknown, but it is not unknown, is it? We know that huge demands will be placed on the system and that that will have grave implications for many people who are receiving and providing care. We know that that is on the way. We think we have a system in place through the Bill that will enable us to deliver on that. The big question is not an elephant in the room. The groups that I am working with on the Bradford Cares projects, Age Concern, Mencap, Scope and the Bradford and District Disabled People’s Forum say that this is good and they like so much of the Bill, but they raise their eyebrows and say, “Will the funding be there?” That is the big question that is asked over and again. Through new clauses 7 and 9, we can at least give them some faith that we recognise that it is a big issue and that we are seeking to identify and meet our responsibilities to fund what we all want to do and see.