Committee (6th Day)

Part of Care Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 16th July 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Labour 7:15 pm, 16th July 2013

My Lords, I support the comments made by my noble friend, Lord Lipsey. There is a case for setting up some sensible monitoring arrangements. This is not just to check up on the Government, but to make sure that this system is working in the way that everybody wants it to. It is a big change, and we are starting from a position which means we have to grasp the nettle, as the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, said. I strongly support his amendments.

I want to refresh the House’s memory of what we said in the Dilnot commission report. I will briefly detain noble Lords with a quote:

“There is very poor understanding of how the adult social care system currently works and how much it can potentially cost. Many people live under the false impression that social care will be free if they need it. If people are confused over how the system works and the costs that they potentially face, they will not prepare appropriately for the future.”

That setting was why two of our 10 recommendations were that the Government should develop a major new information and advice strategy to help when care needs arise. To encourage people to plan ahead for their later life, we recommended that the Government should invest in an awareness campaign. We deliberately put those responsibilities on the Government. We did not put them on local authorities. We did this because we thought that unless the Government of the day—and this would apply to a Labour Government as much as a coalition Government—took a grip on this awareness campaign and planned the information and advice strategy, we would end up with a badly informed public and a mishmash of different local authority systems up and down the country.

We are not going to make this system work well or deliver the changes in the Bill and in the Dilnot commission report, unless there is investment. In our report we put the price tag of this as being a massive public awareness campaign. The public do not start from a position of being well informed about how they prepare for the future care and support needs that they will have in later life. The only way to start to change that is for the Government to grasp the nettle. I strongly support the proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, to put this in the Bill. We should put a clear responsibility on the Secretary of State to run with the ball on this issue and, in effect, to monitor progress, not on a five-year basis but on a regular, annual basis. If we do not do something like this, we will live to regret it. We will see failure of implementation and failure to take the public with us on this major set of changes.