Care and Support — Statement

– in the House of Lords at 3:38 pm on 11 July 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 3:38, 11 July 2012

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made earlier in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health on the care and support White Paper, the draft Bill and the progress report on funding reform for social care. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the future of care and support for adults in England. The coalition programme said that reform is needed urgently. We inherited a system that too often lets people down and is unfair, a system which was complex and confusing and which responded to a crisis but too rarely prevented it.

For many years, people have called for a system fitted around the needs of care users, not the preferences of the service-one that puts people at the heart of the service and delivers high-quality care with dignity and respect. We knew two years ago that we had to offer urgent support to social care. In the spending review 2010, we provided an additional £7.2 billion for social care over the course of this Parliament, including nearly £3 billion from the NHS to deliver more integrated care. This gives the current system resource backing, but not reform. We need also to build a better service for the long term.

The White Paper I am publishing today represents the greatest transformation of the system since 1948. The practical effect will be to give service users, their carers and their families more peace of mind. Services will be organised around each individual's care and support needs, their goals and aspirations. Intervention will be earlier, promoting independence and well-being.

The White Paper will support people to remain active in their own communities, connected to their families, friends and support networks. We shall invest an additional £200 million over five years in the development of specialised housing for older and disabled people, so that people can stay independent in their own homes for as long as possible.

The role of carers is critical, so we will transform how the system views and treats carers. We will extend rights for carers to have an assessment and for the first time provide a clear entitlement to the support they need to maintain their own health and well-being.

The measures in the White Paper will make it easier for people to understand how care and support services work, and what their entitlements and responsibilities are. To give people greater consistency of access, we will introduce a national minimum eligibility threshold, as the Dilnot commission suggested. We will require councils to start supporting people as soon as they move into a new area, so that it is easier for people to choose to move home to be nearer to their relatives. Local authorities will be under a duty to ensure continuity of care and that care users are able to take their assessments with them if they move area.

We will establish a single website to provide clear and reliable information about all care and support services for self-funders and local authority-supported users and carers. As well as these improvements to national information, we will invest £32.5 million to ensure that there is better information about the range of local care and support services available in each area.

We want people to be confident that the care and support they receive is delivered by a compassionate and caring workforce. We will place dignity and respect for care users at the heart of a new code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers. Alongside the new minimum standards, we will train more care workers, with 50,000 more apprenticeships by 2017.

A key requirement is for people to be confident that they will be treated with dignity and respect and that providers deliver high-quality care at all times. We will rule out the crude practice known as "contracting by the minute", which can so undermine people's dignity and choice. We should contract for quality and service, not by the clock. We will call on local Healthwatch organisations to make active use of their power of entry, allowing them to visit care services in their local area and make recommendations to the providers and local authority commissioners.

People should also be entitled to expect that services will be maintained if a provider fails. Working with local government and the care sector, we successfully handled the consequences of the Southern Cross crisis, but we also learnt lessons. So we will consult on how we can anticipate and act to ensure continuity of care if a provider goes out of business. Care itself, not the provider of care, is the most important factor.

A key theme of the White Paper is that those receiving care and support know what is best for them. It is right that they must be in control of their care and support. We will make sure that everyone is entitled to a personal budget, so they can be in control of their own care. We will offer all who want it a personal budget and, by 2015, a legal right to request this as a direct payment.

To make it easier for people to get the care they want, we will ensure that they have better access to independent advice. We will make it easier for people to see whether a care provider is good or not, so that they can make real choices through an online quality profile for each provider. We will work with a range of organisations to develop comparison websites so that people can give feedback and compare the quality of care for themselves.

Integrated care is important for everyone, regardless of age or the reason they need care and support. However, getting integration right is particularly important for people when they may be moving from one service to another. That is why we are transferring an additional £100 million in 2013-14 and £200 million in 2014-15, beyond previous plans, from the NHS to social care, to support social care services that benefit people's health and well-being, and promote better integrated care.

The White Paper will help people get better joined-up care at key points in their lives. We will legislate to give adult social care services a power to assess young people under the age of 18 and we will ensure protection so that no young person goes without care while waiting for adult support to start.

We want people to receive the best possible care at the end of their lives, including a choice over where they die. The palliative care funding review recommended that all health and social care should be funded by the state once someone reaches the end of life and are entered onto the end-of-life care locality register. We think that there is much merit in this and will be using the eight palliative care funding pilot sites to collect the data and experience that we need to assess the proposal.

Alongside the White Paper, I am today publishing the draft care and support Bill. Many of the White Paper reforms need new legislation to make them work and the draft Bill is a major reform in its own right. The law for adult social care is complex and outdated. All those involved know how it has made the system harder to work in. The draft Bill sets out a single, modern statute for adult care and support. It brings together and simplifies provisions from at least a dozen Acts of Parliament, reflecting the recommendations of the Law Commission. It builds the law around the well-being, needs and outcomes of real people-clear principles, clearly set out in law.

I am also today publishing a progress report on funding reform. In July 2010, I asked Andrew Dilnot to review the funding of the system of care and support in England. I can confirm today the Government's support for the principles of the Dilnot commission's report as the right basis for any new funding model; that is, financial protection through capped costs and an extended means test.

It would, as Andrew Dilnot himself said, enable people to plan and prepare, so that they are not so vulnerable to the arbitrary impact of catastrophic care costs. The progress report sets out a detailed analysis of this funding model, giving us a better basis for making decisions about how these changes can be funded. Of course, any proposal which includes extra public spending needs to be considered alongside other spending priorities, which include the demographic pressures on the social care service itself. The right, the necessary, place to do this is at the next spending review. Our talks with the Labour Party were constructive, but no plan for funding Dilnot was agreed, or, indeed, proposed by either side.

A decision at the next spending review will allow time for continuing discussions with stakeholders and between the parties, and we can undertake open engagement on detailed implementation issues and options. These discussions will include the level of the cap, whether a voluntary or opt-in approach is a viable option in addition to the universal options and whether legislative provision is required.

However, as the report makes clear, we are also taking definitive steps now by accepting a number of the Dilnot commission's recommendations. Most notably, we will introduce a universal deferred payments scheme. This will mean that no one will be forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for care. Provisions for this are included in the draft Bill.

The White Paper, the draft care and support Bill and the progress report on funding together set out our commitment to a modern system of care and support-one designed around the needs of individual people; one with dignity and respect at its heart; and one that brings care and support into the 21st century.

These reforms are the product of immensely helpful reviews by the Law Commission and the Dilnot commission and come from a positive and wide-ranging engagement with the care sector and the public, helping us to design the kind of care services and support that all of us would like to see for ourselves and our families. We are determined to secure these reforms-to achieve in this Parliament that which our predecessors failed to achieve in over 13 years. I intend to continue and develop this open co-operative approach to developing these reforms. I commend this Statement to the House".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Baroness Wheeler Baroness Wheeler Opposition Whip (Lords) 3:49, 11 July 2012

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for the Statement. I am sure the House will agree that we have all waited a long time for this spring White Paper, and now the Government have finally managed to publish it by the skin of their teeth, with just 10 days to go before the Recess. Notwithstanding what is actually in it, we can at least take comfort that the White Paper's publication at last fires the starter gun for the nationwide debate on the future funding of social care that we on these Benches and key stakeholders in the public, voluntary and independent provider sectors, as well as care professionals and service users-many of them forming part of the excellent Care and Support Alliance-have all been calling for.

The stakeholders know only too well the scale of the problems that have to be faced and the solutions that are needed on the full package of social care law and current and future funding. However, there is also an urgent need for social care to be pushed to the forefront of public debate and understanding as one of the biggest challenges facing Britain today. This public debate could and should have started much earlier if the Government's stated momentum behind pushing the Dilnot commission into doing its work in six months had been maintained, and if the Government had put more energy and commitment into the cross-party talks and had seriously tried to address the critical funding issues. After all the delays, prevarication and speculation, those of us who were hoping against hope for some sense of an overall strategy, vision and action in the White Paper for dealing with the current and growing crisis in social care are sadly disappointed and let down. There is no vision of how a reformed system will work in practice or how it is to be sustained in the future in the face of growing demand and need.

At the minimum, we hoped for an outline programme and process for making key decisions on funding, including timescales and milestones for moving forward on addressing the full package of reforms that are needed. Instead, we have further consultation on issues, many of which have already been consulted on and on which there is already broad consensus. We have the failure to address the funding crisis, the prospect of the proposed care and support Bill not coming into effect until probably April 2015, and any implementation of the Dilnot options effectively long-grassed until after the next election.

The White Paper shows that the Government are completely out of touch with the scale and urgency of the care crisis. Across the country, elderly and disabled people are failing to qualify for basic personal care in their homes, or their package of care has been cut back to home visits of less than 15 minutes, or they have faced home care charges rising by 11% in some local authorities. We know, too, that the cost of residential home care is rising substantially in excess of what local authorities can pay, and people are spending their lifelong savings to pay for long-term care. The funding issues need to be faced and addressed now.

Of course we welcome the implementation of a large number of the much-needed changes to social care law proposed in the Law Commission's excellent report of 2010. Social care law is in urgent need of reform, which is why the Labour Government set up the review in 2008. We welcome the proposals and consultation on reforming and simplifying the legal framework and ensuring that patient-centred services are better fitted to people's lives and fit in with their need for choice and control. We strongly support new laws which help to make clear what people are and are not entitled to, and which help them to plan for the future.

In the time available, I have managed only a quick look through the documents, but it is worth pointing out to the House that an overwhelming number of the proposals were contained in Labour's own White Paper on care, published before the last general election. Naturally, we welcome their reappearance, but it begs the question: why it has taken the Government nearly two years to regurgitate our proposals into their new draft Bill?

I stress that we also support proposals in the White Paper that take forward Labour's personalisation of care agenda-again, as set out in our care White Paper. We support legislation to ensure the portability of social care packages, and we of course support proposals to extend carers' respite breaks and their legal entitlements, as well as the extension of key information and advice services which we introduced through our landmark National Carers Strategy.

However, from these Benches we have repeatedly stressed that, unless these new social care laws are reformed in the context of also addressing the current and future funding problems, they will be ineffective and inoperable, and will lead to even greater unmet demand and suffering. Local authorities facing £1 billion of cuts will just not be able to afford to respond to laws designed to make care provision and eligibility consistent and more accessible across the country.

It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that the White Paper does not take the key step of recognising that there is not enough money in the system now. Not only is Dilnot implementation pushed into a further consultation and engagement process-despite the much-hyped promises of accepting Dilnot "in principle"-but the proposed transfer of funds of £300 million from the NHS to social care over a two-year period in 2013 and 2014 continues to support this fallacy: in other words, that it is all down to local authorities needing to better manage their finances and get their priorities right. Those councils are desperate for a new settlement on funding for social care, but the White Paper holds out little prospect of this happening and provides no answers to the funding crisis currently engulfing them. I cannot see any reference in the White Paper to how the Government propose to help councils to fund what seems to be their flagship proposal: to provide loans to older people so that their care costs can be paid for after they die. I should be grateful if the Minister could flesh out any of the details on this.

On long-term funding, the Alzheimer's Society best summed it up when it said that accepting a cap on the funding contribution "in principle" is just an "empty promise". People want to know what the contribution cap will be, when it will come in and how it will be funded. It is downright cruel to dangle in front of people the prospect of raising the savings threshold from £23,250 to £100,000 without a positive commitment and date for implementation when those people are currently struggling to self-fund their care, or part of it, and are seeing their life savings disappear now.

Labour has always been in earnest about the need for meaningful cross-party talks and entered into these last year in good faith. We meant business when we made the offer last year, and we mean it now. I ask the Minister whether his understanding of meaningful cross-party talks involves joint, two-way discussions on strategy, policy and options, and regular meetings, discussions and negotiations to reach a consensus, or whether it means irregular meetings, the last one of which was cancelled by the Government, who instead offered the Opposition a briefing just a few days before the White Paper was due to be published on what they intended to do-or not do, in this case. We know that that is what happened, although I welcome the behind-the-scenes signs over the past couple of days that the Government regret not putting more effort into making cross-party progress. For our part, Andy Burnham has pledged that if the Government offer a genuine, two-way discussion on the funding of care, with honesty about existing pressures and the difficult options, Labour will play its part.

I ask the Minister the following further questions. First, why was it not possible to reallocate to pay for social care a major part of this year's £1.7 billion NHS underspend, which was clawed back by the Treasury? Would this not at least have been a start, providing real money behind the White Paper's reform proposals? Secondly, will the Government be involving Andrew Dilnot himself in the implementation discussions once the consultation is completed? Does the Minister recognise that Mr Dilnot's involvement would go some way towards building confidence among key stakeholders that the whole issue has not been long-grassed? Thirdly, can the Minister tell the House when the Government will publish an impact assessment of the cost of the overall changes proposed, and how they plan to implement the changes with no extra money and council budgets being slashed? Finally, in today's Daily Telegraph NHS managers are warning that the NHS is at risk of collapse as cuts to social care budgets are leading to a huge rise in the number of admissions to hospital of older people who could be treated at home but cannot afford to pay for care. How do the Government propose to deal with this, and how will the White Paper proposals help to alleviate this alarming trend?

The White Paper reflects a positive sign of consensus on many of the key issues facing social care today, and some good promises about how social care should change. However, until these promises are backed by a recognition of the current scale of the crisis and proposals on how Dilnot can be implemented in the future-with firm commitments, timescales and milestones-schemes such as deferred payments and loans and pilots for end-of-life care can in effect be only interim, stopgap measures. They do not address the overall need for fairness, transparency, more resources across the whole system and long-term sustainability. Implementation of Dilnot must be the basis for that.

As a carer myself, I hope that the House will forgive me if I end by quoting the carer husband of a woman suffering from dementia who was movingly interviewed on Radio 4 this morning about his life as a 24-hour carer and the impact of social care cuts. He said:

"It's the unknown that really gets to me ... in the back of my mind is the constant feeling of uncertainty".

In-principle decisions for implementation at some unspecified date in the future are no solution and offer no comfort, solace or relief to people who need help, care and support today.

The Government promised that they would legislate on a new legal and financial framework for social care in this parliamentary Session. The noble Earl promised that the Government would not shy away from or duck the funding issues-but I am afraid that that is exactly what they have done.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 3:59, 11 July 2012

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her comments and questions. While she levelled a number of criticisms at the Government, I was glad to hear her positive comments-although I would characterise her speech as a glass half empty speech rather than the opposite. Nevertheless, I am grateful to her for recognising that this package of proposals represents progress. In many areas it is progress that her party and mine fully sign up to. However, she said at the start of her remarks that there was a lack of vision and strategy in these proposals. I was sorry about that because I do not share her view. The White Paper and the draft care and support Bill undoubtedly form the most comprehensive overhaul of care and support since 1948. They respond directly to the concerns that people have raised with us time and again.

I hope that when the noble Baroness reads the White Paper she will agree that the whole flavour is about creating a system that keeps people independent and well. There are many major commitments in the White Paper, including more support and equality for carers, housing investment, better information and personal budgets. Those things all combine to set out a new vision that tailors care around people's well-being, rather than expecting people to conform to a system, which is what we have at the moment.

The noble Baroness criticised the Government for delay. I gently point out that more than 13 years ago there was a royal commission chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland. The previous Administration had 13 years to respond to it but did not do so. Nevertheless, progress was made in certain areas. We have gladly picked up on some of the areas of progress that the previous Administration put in place, not least in the area of carers. However, it is not true that since the present Government came to office we have seen no action. One of the first decisions that we made was to protect care and support in the spending review through an additional £7.2 billion over four years. That was an explicit recognition of the strains that local authorities were expected to come under. I announced through the Statement today further funding in recognition of those strains at local level.

It is true that some of the changes will take longer than others, but progress will be made within 12 months. It will include introducing quality profiles for every provider so that people have comparative information on the quality of different organisations, investing £200 million over the next five years to develop specialised housing, publishing a code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers, and launching a new national information website at I hope that the noble Baroness will welcome those innovations.

On the deferred payment scheme, there is a lot of discussion to be had. Our proposals are that deferred payments will be available in all local authorities. Currently they are available in some but not all. As the noble Baroness knows, the social care means test requires people to use their housing wealth when they go into residential care. We are announcing that we will allow people to pay later, giving them more time to sell their home at their convenience or even for it to be sold after their death. We are not confirming now exactly who will be eligible or the rate of interest that will be attached, but we have said we will consult on these issues with the care sector.

As regards the cross-party talks, I should like to put it on the record that we fully intend to continue to engage with Her Majesty's Opposition and with the sector on options for implementing the Dilnot model as well as with Mr Dilnot himself. At this stage, we are open-minded as to what form that engagement should take. As has been the case to date, discussions on funding reform will be led by the Department of Health on behalf of wider government. We wish to continue what I believe has been a very constructive series of discussions, with the Opposition in particular. The disagreements and criticisms that blew up over the weekend were regrettable and we wish to draw a line under that. I hope the noble Baroness will appreciate from the correspondence that has flowed between our two lead spokesmen that that is indeed the intent.

The noble Baroness is not correct as regards the NHS underspend. It was not lost to the NHS. The overall year-end surplus of £1.6 billion for PCTs and SHAs last year will be carried forward and made available in 2012-13. That represents a 3% increase in funding available to the NHS relative to last year. As I mentioned earlier, we are allocating further funding on top of the £7.2 billion that we previously announced in support of local authorities.

There are many questions to answer in this package. I do not hide from that, but it is right that we take time to work through this, including engaging with all stakeholders to ensure that any reform is sustainable and fair.

Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Department for International Development)

My Lords, before we get into the session where all Peers can contribute, I remind noble Lords that the Companion states that ministerial Statements are made for the information of the House and that, although brief comments and questions are allowed, Statements should not be made the occasion for immediate debate. Perhaps I may emphasise brevity and therefore the courtesy of allowing as many noble Lords as possible to contribute.

Photo of Baroness Campbell of Surbiton Baroness Campbell of Surbiton Crossbench 4:08, 11 July 2012

My Lords, I must briefly declare an interest. I am a 24-hour social care service user, and long may it last. Temporarily ignoring the social care funding elephant in the room, I feel there is much to welcome in this White Paper, which concentrates on independent living, empowerment strategies, and supporting people to stay at home and contribute to their communities instead of the current safety-net crisis interventions. That has been my life's work.

I am also pleased to see that the Government are obviously keen to incorporate my Private Member's Bill on social care portability. Naturally, I must ask the Minister whether the Government intend portability to offer an "equivalence of support" outcome so that disabled people feel confident that they can continue with their chosen occupations, responsibilities and lifestyle wherever they go, because this will put an end to the postcode lottery.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for all the work that she has done in this area, particularly on portability. This is a good news story. We are committing in the White Paper to breaking down the major barrier to portability: that people's care is disrupted when they move local authority area. The draft Bill contains a clause that puts a duty on to local authorities to ensure that when a person-and their carer, if applicable-moves local authority area, their needs continue to be met until they are reassessed by that local authority. The clause also sets out that local authorities are under a duty to share information, and the receiving local authority has the power to assess the individual-and carer, if applicable-before they move. This seeks to ensure that the move is as seamless as possible. I do not doubt that this is an area that we shall debate over the coming months.

Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour

My Lords, I emphasise the extraordinary importance of all-party consensus on this matter. Without that, older people and their families will not know what to plan for in the long term, and indeed insurance companies that could help out will not be able to design policies to help them do so. Will the noble Earl deplore the leaking of the documents in front of us this afternoon? The leaks greatly exaggerated the benefits that the actual policies announced will deliver, and have derailed the all-party talks. These policies should have been floated with the Opposition before they reached the public domain. I am not saying that he did it, but will he apologise as a way of getting those all-party talks back on an even footing?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

My Lords, I fully agree with the noble Lord about the need for cross-party consensus. If we are to have a long-term sustainable solution for the funding of social care, we must have that political consensus. Indeed, that was the intent behind the cross-party talks. I very much regret the leaks. These were not our doing, but they did create an impression of bad faith. Again, I regret that. No bad faith was intended from our quarter or indeed from any other quarter in government. I think there was an element of misunderstanding about our intentions, but I agree with the noble Lord that the cross-party bonhomie has been disrupted. We very much wish to put the whole process back on track, and I hope that his party will respond accordingly.

Photo of Baroness Jolly Baroness Jolly Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I am a glass half-full sort of person, so I heartily welcome the White Paper and the draft Bill on care and support, and note the progress report on funding reform. We are certainly looking forward to pre-legislative scrutiny. Can the Minister give the House some indication of the timetable and the process? Will he also tell the House what the Government's view is on including enabling clauses in the draft Bill to allow the Dilnot-based scheme to be implemented?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

My Lords, my provisional understanding -and I stress that-is that pre-legislative scrutiny will begin in the autumn, probably in November. Between now and then, plans will be put in place to decide the composition of the pre-legislative scrutiny committee so that the process will conclude by the end of this Session of Parliament. In principle, there is no reason why enabling clauses should not be inserted into the legislation. As I have emphasised before, it would be preferable if they were clauses on which we could all agree.

Photo of Lord Howard of Lympne Lord Howard of Lympne Conservative

My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of Help the Hospices. I welcome both the extra money that the Government are making available for the palliative care pilot projects and the Government's acceptance in principle that end of life care should be free at the point of delivery. Can my noble friend give the House some indication of the timetable by which this very desirable objective might be achieved?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

My Lords, the short answer to my noble friend is that we need to look in detail at the funding implications. At this stage all I can say is that our intent is to introduce this at the earliest opportunity. However, I am afraid I have not been given the green light to give him chapter and verse at this stage. As soon as I am able to do that, I will gladly do so.

Photo of Lord Laming Lord Laming Convenor of the Crossbench Peers

My Lords, may I ask the Minister two quick questions about domiciliary care? First, do the Government accept that during the past decade, there has been a marked deterioration in the availability and quality of community care? It has deteriorated so much that, as the Minister said, it now often seems to be measured in minutes, depriving very vulnerable people of dignity both in feeding and in toileting. Secondly, if that is the case, what mechanism are the Government going to employ across 150 local authorities to make sure that they deliver the standard of domiciliary care about which he spoke?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The noble Lord is quite right; there is huge concern about the sometimes tick-box attitude to domiciliary care, very often resulting in nugatory time spent by care workers with those they look after, which one is tempted to say is hardly worth while in some cases. We are very aware of this. Part of the answer lies in our plans for personal budgets, which should give service users much greater scope to define what they want and what their needs are. The service should then work around those needs and requirements. However, we are also talking about the workforce here.

We are clear that the minimum standards for health support workers and adult social care workers in England that are being developed by Skills for Care and Skills for Health will set a clear national benchmark for the training of support workers and their conduct when delivering care. We expect that the standards produced will inform proposals for a voluntary register for adult social care workers in England, which could be in place by next year. This will allow unregulated workers to demonstrate that they meet a set of minimum standards and are committed to a code of conduct.

All those things combined should move us away from the kind of culture that in some places, although not in all, is degrading the quality of care that is delivered.

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour

My Lords, I congratulate the Minister, and pass these congratulations on to his right honourable friend, on making progress on the Dilnot commission recommendations, as well as on the other measures in the White Paper. I declare my interest as a member of the Dilnot commission.

I also congratulate the Minister and his right honourable friend on extracting his documents from the dead hand of the Treasury. In that connection, I ask him to confirm two things. First, it will, I believe, be impossible to deliver a deferred payment scheme by April 2015 without a clear decision on the cap that will be required to underpin it, and the extended means test. Can he confirm that decisions will have to be taken on these two issues in order for a deferred payment scheme to go ahead?

Secondly, his right honourable friend rightly said that he was in the market for open cross-party discussions on the way forward. Does this mean that the Treasury will participate in these and will not blackball politically contentious proposals that may be found for funding and sustaining the implementation of Dilnot, even where those proposals may recoup some money from the very population groups that are going to benefit from a better adult social care system?

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

First, I thank the noble Lord for all that he did as a member of the triumvirate of the Dilnot commission. There is no doubt that we owe him and his fellow commissioners an enormous debt. I am grateful to him for his kind remarks about this set of announcements. We propose to introduce deferred payment without the cap necessarily being in place. We believe that that can be done. I understand the direction from which the noble Lord comes, but a system that obliges local authorities to offer deferred payment where certain eligibility criteria-yet to be defined, admittedly-are met is deliverable in the absence of a cap. That is not to say that we do not wish to work hard to define what that cap should be.

On the noble Lord's second question about the dead hand of the Treasury, I would not characterise my esteemed colleagues in that venerable department as dead hands. However, I acknowledge his central point about affordability. That is why we have felt it necessary to defer final decisions on how the funding of the Dilnot principles will be worked through until the next spending review. That inevitably means that my colleagues in the Treasury will have a direct interest in the result; it would be strange were it otherwise. Nevertheless, that does not preclude creative and constructive discussions between our two parties.

Photo of Baroness Browning Baroness Browning Conservative

I welcome my noble friend's Statement, but does he accept that there is still a significant challenge in providing appropriate packages of care, particularly for elderly people, on discharge from hospital following an emergency admission? This relates to the type of care required when there is a significant change in needs and people are unable to return to their home, or sometimes even to a residential home. There is a transition, but some of those people could make more progress in their recovery. I am thinking of stroke patients in particular. I hope the Minister will be able to reassure me that these changes will include looking again at this group.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

I agree with my noble friend. Only last week, I talked to people at the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital who emphasised that very point. Very often, the absence of packages of care that are tailored to the needs of the individual results in delayed discharge from hospital and often a deterioration in the condition of the patient. That helps no one. There is therefore a burning need for commissioners, providers and those providing care in the community to work together to define appropriate packages. I fully agree with my noble friend that those who have had strokes are particularly in need of the kind of packages that can best assist them when they move back into their own homes. This is an area that is crying out for further work. We hope that it will flow from the creation of clinical commissioning groups and health and well-being boards at a local level.

Photo of Lord Sutherland of Houndwood Lord Sutherland of Houndwood Crossbench

My Lords, I am very happy to welcome the ministerial Statement as one of the first distant tweets of a swallow, perhaps announcing some hope of spring. However, as we all know this year, summer does not inevitably follow spring. I do not take the view that the glass is half-empty; I take the view that it is currently about 20% full. The real question is about how you put the other 80% in. That has to do with money-there are no two ways about it. Until that is confronted, I will not be convinced that the Government or-even more so-the Treasury understand the scale of the issues facing us. Demography has been announcing them for 15 or 20 years and they will get more and more urgent. There is a requirement not just for an incremental change but for a reassessment of priorities, as the Statement suggested.

One suggestion in the Statement is the importance of the integration of care. I thoroughly agree with that but have a question for the Minister. Can he reassure us that it will at least be considered that the integration of care be followed by the integration of budgets between health and social care? Many of us believe that that is one element that has to be put in place. I would not want it ruled out as an issue.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

I am grateful to the noble Lord and thank him for all his work in this area over the years. However, I am sorry that he regards the glass as only being 20% full. I would regard it as much more full than that, bearing in mind the contents of the White Paper that I outlined earlier. No, we are under no illusions about the scale of the issue, its importance or the need to get it right if the NHS is not to bear the brunt of serious strain within social care. It is an urgent matter. We are determined to fill the glass to its fullest at the earliest opportunity.

On integration, as I am sure the noble Lord knows, we have options open to us already to ensure that budgets can be pooled at a local level. This is happening in many areas. It is a very useful device to enable the NHS and social care to share responsibility for delivering care to patients and service users, who after all do not mind very much whether the service is delivered by the NHS or by social care as long as the right service is delivered. We need to work much harder on that area, too.

Photo of Baroness Bakewell Baroness Bakewell Labour

Can I draw the Minister's attention to the characteristics of the very old? Time speeds up when you are old. Christmas comes round more regularly and the years pass faster. Coupled with that is increased anxiety about what those years will bring. The timescale of these matters that concern funding have a particular poignancy for people who have only a few years of life left. I urge the Minister to persuade his colleagues that the nature of defining these sums of money will give a lot of ageing people who are worried peace of mind-a phrase used in the White Paper.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

I pay tribute to the noble Baroness for all her work on behalf of the elderly. Of course she is right in her perception of the way that the elderly view time passing. We have yet to sort out the precise funding mechanism for Dilnot. However, in the mean time, as I have emphasised, we are channelling significant extra funds to local authorities to tide them over. We believe that that will be of help in the short term. Also, the deferred payment scheme should deliver considerable peace of mind to many elderly people who find that they need to move into residential care and, for whatever reason, do not wish to sell their houses. I hope that that proposal will find favour with her.