Report (2nd Day)

Part of Care Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 14th October 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 4:15 pm, 14th October 2013

My Lords, first, I turn to Amendment 55, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, which concerns the circumstances in which people wish to top up their own fees to pay for more expensive accommodation. To begin with, and for the avoidance of any doubt, I will emphasise that I agree that people should be able to choose to spend their own money on more expensive care, provided it is affordable. Like the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, I want people to be able to choose to live in more expensive accommodation and gain from a cap on care costs, so that they pay part of the cost of care from their own savings and still receive local authority support.

Through the consultation and stakeholder engagement, we are seeking to better understand the impact of relaxing the rules on self-top-ups and to determine what protections may be needed for vulnerable people.

The answer to the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is that consultation will close on 25 October. The Minister of State for Care and Support and departmental officials have, over the past quarter, attended a variety of events covering the care and support sector, local authorities and financial services providers. These have been broadly supportive of the principle that people should be able to contribute towards their care costs from their own assets. Stakeholders have also recognised that people need to make decisions which are financially sustainable for the long term, and that financial information and advice need to play an important role in achieving this. We will be able to provide a more comprehensive overview of the views expressed in our response to the consultation in the new year. I repeat that we are on the noble Lord’s side. Our only concern is to ensure that when we relax the rules, there are sufficient protections, both for the individual and for the local authority.

Amendment 56 concerns review of the operation of the capped-cost system. I am sure we can all agree unhesitatingly that these reforms need to be implemented effectively to deliver the outcomes we are striving for. The capped-cost system will provide peace of mind and protection against catastrophic costs and will target most help at those with the greatest need. I am confident that we can further agree that to deliver these benefits, we need good oversight. Therefore, I am with the noble Lords opposite in spirit. To that end, we will be reviewing and assuring both implementation and funding, and have committed to reviewing the core elements of the capped-costs system within each five-year period. We will also conduct post-legislative scrutiny, as the Government have committed to do across the board for all new Acts. The agreement we have with the Liaison Committee in the other place is that this should be done between three and five years after Royal Assent.

Furthermore, we have established the Joint Implementation and Programme Board with the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. We will use this to work with local government on continuing assurance and improvement of the arrangements. We are confident that, in their totality, these arrangements provide generous opportunity for assurance and review to ensure that the reforms remain true to our vision.

For that reason, I do not believe it would be necessary or desirable to supplement these arrangements with a further review by additional oversight bodies, such as an independent ministerial advisory committee. Such additional oversight would cut across the scrutiny conducted by the Health Select Committee and cross-government planning on spending through spending rounds. I am sure that noble Lords opposite will not be totally satisfied with that, but I hope that they will be sufficiently reassured by the confirmation I have given that we will conduct a proper review of the operation and funding of these reforms through several channels. I hope that they will agree that this amendment is, therefore, unnecessary.