New Clause 28 - Part 1 appeals

Part of Care Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 4 February 2014.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health 9:45, 4 February 2014

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

This morning is hard work, but I will continue in the same vein. [Interruption.] That was an unnecessary comment from the hon. Member for Leicester West; I will continue none the less. New clause 28 provides for a broad regulation-making power specific to appeals of decisions made under part 1 of the Care Bill. This power gives us the flexibility to provide for a range of options, depending on further work to ensure that we achieve the outcomes that people have told us are important to them. The details of the system that we develop through that work will be set out in regulations.

I know that many hon. Members will join me in welcoming the fact that the Bill establishes a new legal framework that puts the well-being of individuals at the heart of care and support and puts them in control of their own care. The Bill will also put in place a new statutory framework for assessment and care planning, extending the duty to assess carers’ needs and allowing people who pay for their own care to count the reasonable cost of meeting their eligible needs towards the cap.

Given those changes, it is important that individuals have confidence in the system, and that they are able to challenge decisions without having to resort to judicial review. Accordingly, we held a wide-ranging consultation during the second half of last year to seek opinions on how best we could ensure that. Following that consultation, we have recognised the need for change in this area, and I have accordingly tabled a new clause that will give us the scope to develop detailed proposals for an appeals system, along with stakeholders, keeping to the spirit of co-production that has characterised our work on other areas of the Bill.

The issue is important and complicated. We need to make sure that we take time to get the detail right, drawing on experience from other sectors where possible, and ensuring that the changes are aligned with the broader changes to NHS and social care complaints, following the Francis report and the Clwyd review. It is possible that we will want to involve an existing statutory body in the appeals arrangements, to bring particular expertise to the process, and so the power is wide enough to enable us to confer functions on such bodies  if necessary. Of course, if that involves repealing or amending any element of the primary legislation that relates to such a body, we intend that such regulations would be made using the affirmative procedure. We are not yet in a position to share detailed proposals with hon. Members, but in introducing the new clause I should like to set out the principles that will guide us in developing the new appeals system, and I hope that the Committee will agree that those are right.

First, we believe that it is best to have a flexible appeals system that works at a local level in a manner proportionate to the type of dispute, avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy and burdens on local bodies. Secondly, we have heard clearly through the consultation that an appeals system should have an element of independence from the local authority to give people confidence that the appeals process is fair and unbiased. Thirdly, the appeals system will clearly need to take account of the wider arrangements for complaints and redress that are already established in other parts of the health and care system, avoiding duplication and gaps. We are working actively with our various partners and stakeholders to develop our policy on this, and we will consult further, along with our wider programme of consultations on regulations and guidance, later this year.

I hope that I have reassured hon. Members and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam that the new clause demonstrates our recognition of the need for change and our determination to ensure that there is a clear, flexible and independent appeals system.