Report (2nd Day)

Part of Care Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 14th October 2013.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 6:15 pm, 14th October 2013

My Lords, the Care Bill will for the first time introduce a duty on local authorities to ensure that where a person is receiving care and support they can move home to another local authority area, confident that they will have services in place on the day of the move. The noble Baroness, Lady Campbell, has been a leading advocate in this area for some time, and I acknowledge that her Private Member’s Bill was a template for the provisions in this Bill.

The noble Baroness’s Amendment 63ZA looks to ensure that when the second authority is carrying out the assessment of the adult moving and, where appropriate, their carer, it meets the outcomes that they want to achieve. I reassure her that the provisions on assessment for the person needing care and their carer apply to when a person is being assessed for continuity of care. Assessments must look at achieving the outcomes that the person or carer want to achieve, and Clause 37(8) confirms that. I also give an assurance that we will emphasise this in the statutory guidance.

Amendment 63B proposes that the first authority is responsible for arranging services on the day of the move. I say immediately that I sympathise with the sentiment of the noble Baroness’s argument; neither of us wants a gap during which a person is left without services. However, our view is that the second authority is best placed to maintain continuity of care. Our reasoning is that the person will now be living in the area of the second authority and, as for anyone who has eligible care and support needs, the second authority has a duty to meet those needs. The second authority will also know its local market and will be far better placed to put in place arrangements that support the person and maintain their level of independence from day one.

My concern is that it would be difficult for the first authority to make such arrangements, particularly where the person moves a long distance away. In practice, if the first authority is responsible for making arrangements it would have to contact the second authority to discuss the local market, which raises the question of why the second authority is not responsible for putting in place services in the first instance.

For the reasons that I have explained, I believe that the second authority must be the one responsible for delivering services on the day of the move. However, in light of the concerns raised by the noble Baroness during Committee, I have looked again at the provisions in the Bill. My Amendment 63A will require the first authority to contact the second authority and maintain this relationship so that it is aware of where the second authority is with putting services in place. It will also require the first authority to keep the person involved with discussions about their services and informed of progress for putting these in place. In other words, the amendment will put the person at the centre of the process. Both ADASS and the Local Government Association have indicated that this amendment will strengthen the process.

The noble Baroness questions whether placing the responsibility on the second authority is the right approach. I believe that it is. However, I fully understand her concerns, and I commit now to my department reviewing how the continuity of care arrangements are operating three years following implementation. This will provide us with more information, which will help us to understand if the process can be improved.

We are already considering how we might implement the provisions in the Bill. The first step will be to develop the regulations and statutory guidance. Given the noble Baroness’s knowledge in this area, I hope that we can draw on her experience and that she will be able to advise us on the preparation of the regulations and guidance. I sincerely hope that in strengthening these provisions and in the commitments that I have given, I have been able to convince her not to press her amendments.

The amendments relating to ordinary residence will provide clarity in respect of three areas: the overall principle of ordinary residence; the principle of ordinary residence so that it applies to after-care under the auspices of the Mental Health Act; and finally, the cross-border placement of individuals so that service users can move between the four countries of the UK where this is deemed to be in their best interests.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, asked whether reciprocal agreements are now in place or whether there would be more changes in this area. The answer is that the basic structure is in place in terms of reciprocal arrangements on cross-border care. However, some small details remain to be finalised through regulations and statutory guidance. We will work closely with the devolved Administrations on this.

First, government Amendments 66 and 67 address a potential lacuna in respect of people who may live in England—and therefore be ordinarily resident in an English local authority—but who are treated entirely within the NHS of a devolved Administration. The amendments ensure that they would remain ordinarily resident in England. Secondly, Amendments 64, 65, 126 to128 and 132 to 136 apply consistent ordinary residence rules in England and Wales in respect of after-care under the Mental Health Act 1983, and reflect our agreement with Wales that Welsh Ministers or the Secretary of State will determine cross-border disputes according to agreed arrangements.

Thirdly, Amendments 68 to 75 relate to cross-border placements. The cross-border provisions in the Bill reflect the outcome of solid collaborative work with Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish colleagues to remove legal barriers restricting the placement of an individual from one territory of the United Kingdom to another. These amendments make technical adjustments to those provisions, following further discussion with the devolved Administrations about the detail of the arrangements.

The purpose of the amendments on cross-border placements is threefold. First, they ensure that the established principle that the placing authority retains responsibility for the care of those individuals placed cross-border, is not interrupted should the individual receiving care require a period in hospital or other healthcare accommodation. Secondly, they enable regulations to provide for the cross-border placements provisions to apply to individuals who receive direct payments. Thirdly, they provide a regulation-making power that would allow our cross-border provisions to apply to individuals placed in a setting other than a traditional care home—for example, supported living arrangements.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, also asked about the impact of cross-border placement provisions on cost pressures. It is our understanding that the number of placements between countries of the UK is likely to be minimal, certainly in terms of the overall budget. However, we will work closely with colleagues in the devolved Administrations to further understand and bottom out the financial implications.

This group of amendments provides further necessary clarity to enable people to receive care and support in locations that suit their needs and I commend them to the House.