My Lords, I shall speak also to the other amendments in this group, Amendments 33, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42 to 45 inclusive, 62, 90, 91, 100, 101 109, 112, 115, 116 and 117. In Committee, we had a wide-ranging and informed debate on assessment. I have reflected on the issues raised and I have tabled amendments which I hope noble Lords will agree address those concerns and clarify our intentions around the assessment process.
In Committee, we considered a provision which was intended to ensure a focus on the adult’s strengths and how these can contribute towards the outcomes they want to achieve as part of the assessment. This provision was drafted to support our aim to build the care and support system around the person and to consider the adult’s own capabilities: what they can do—as well as their needs—and what they cannot do. While most noble Lords agreed with the principle, a concern in Committee was that the provision set out in the Bill might be wrongly interpreted by local authorities as allowing them to place additional caring responsibilities on family and friends rather than providing care and support. Amendments 32 and 33 look to address the concerns that arose.
Amendment 32 removes the requirement to assess the adult’s capabilities and other matters as part of the needs assessment. Amendment 33 provides for a consideration of such matters to happen separate to, but alongside, the needs assessment. Local authorities should have a discussion with adults or carers in parallel to the assessment, considering how their own capabilities and any other matters can help to achieve the outcomes they want to achieve on a daily basis. These amendments remove the source of concern, while retaining the important point of policy on which we agree.
In Committee, there was also concern as to whether the assessment process was sufficiently supportive of the focus of the Bill on the prevention of need. We have considered this and have also brought forward amendments to strengthen this focus. The second part of Amendment 33 and Amendment 45 require a local authority to consider at the time of the assessment whether any universal services available locally, whether provided by the local authority under Clause 2 or Clause 4 or by another organisation, would be of benefit to the person. This replaces the previous provision in which such a consideration took place only after the eligibility determination. This would support situations where, for example, a local authority might decide to defer the final eligibility determination until the person or carer has taken part in a preventive service, such as a reablement programme. Amendments 36 and 37 make similar provision in relation to carer’s assessments. Amendments 90, 91, 100, 101, 109 and 112 make equivalent changes in relation to the assessment of children, child carers and young carers.
In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Low, pointed out that while the regulation-making powers would provide for an expert to carry out complex assessments, they did not require it. I assured the noble Lord that this was not our intention and that I would look again at the provisions to ensure they provided for this. Having considered the provisions I have concluded that they needed to be strengthened to provide for when an expert must carry out an assessment for complex needs, such as for a person who is deafblind. Amendment 39 rectifies this, and I would like to thank the noble Lord for raising this in Committee.
Through Amendment 40, we will require assessors who are trained but may not have experience of carrying out an assessment for a specific condition to consult a person with experience in that area. For example, an assessor who normally assesses older people who is asked to assess a person with learning disabilities would have to consult a person with experience in that condition.
I turn now to Amendments 42, 43, 44, 62, 115, 116 and 117. Members of the Committee asked to see clear links between this Bill and the Children and Families Bill, which is also before the House. I share their view that both Bills must work together so that no one falls through a gap in the legislation. Amendment 42 ensures that a local authority can combine an adult’s assessment with any other assessment it is carrying out, whether under this Bill or other legislation, as long as the individual or individuals being assessed agree. For example, it clarifies that the authority can carry out a needs assessment with a young carer’s assessment. Amendment 43 allows the authority to carry out a needs or carer’s assessment jointly with another assessment being carried out by another body, whether of that person or a person relevant to the situation, as long as the individual or individuals being assessed agree. Amendment 62 ensures similarly that local authorities have powers to combine care and support plans and support plans with any other plan of that individual or another. Amendments 115, 116 and 117 make similar provision for a child’s assessment, a child carer’s assessment and a young carer’s assessment when they are transitioning to adult services. These amendments reflect similar government amendments tabled to the Children and Families Bill and reflect the synergy between both Bills and how they work together to ensure that the needs of children and young carers are considered during the adult’s assessment.
I have listened to the strength of the arguments made in Committee. I hope your Lordships will agree that the amendments I have tabled address the concerns that were raised and that they strengthen and clarify the assessment provisions. I beg to move.