My Lords, I would have added my name to this amendment because it is excellent and necessary. I, too, hope that the noble Earl will see the sense of it. Certainly, people’s fears that the Government would propose to set the national eligibility threshold too high have been confirmed. Rather than celebrating the achievements of councils that have been able to provide highly valued, innovative and low-cost services to people with low and moderate needs, we are instead to fall in line with the majority of local authorities, with the false hope of avoiding financial strain. Failing to provide services to people with moderate care needs is, at best, a missed opportunity to encourage preventive care and significantly improve the quality of life for a highly disadvantaged group of people. At worst, we are leaving a considerable proportion of people with a lifelong disability to fend for themselves.
Case reports of those recently excluded from receiving support are extremely troubling. We have heard some examples already today with some people losing all daycare provision and facing an isolated life at home. Other case reports demonstrate the importance of lower levels of support. I want briefly to give the example of Frances, a middle-aged woman with a mild to moderate learning disability who has always struggled to understand and manage bills. Since receiving a few hours support a week she has finally had relief from receiving constant threats and eviction notices. How long will her support survive before she is declared ineligible? Clearly the resources of the state are limited but they need to be used wisely, and I believe that our care system must encourage and incentivise local authorities to provide lower intensity interventions that can make a difference to the quality of life for many people.
On the face of it, opting for a moderate national eligibility threshold may sound as if it would require considerable additional funding, but providing these services to a group who by definition are often highly vulnerable and disadvantaged could result in great savings by avoiding more costly acute care later. I hope that the Government will rethink this amendment.