Direct Payments

Health written question – answered on 27th March 2014.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make an assessment of the potential effects of the provisions of the Consumer Rights Bill on the provision of social care services to users commissioning such services through direct payments.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

Where health and social care is contractually provided to a consumer by a business it is within the scope of chapter 4 part 1 and part 2 of the Consumer Rights Bill.

Chapter 4 of part 1 of the Consumer Rights Bill sets out that services within scope must be provided by traders with reasonable care and skill and that they must be in line with certain information given to the consumer by the trader. Where there are other enactments that define or restrict rights, duties or liabilities, the provisions of those enactments take precedence over the provisions in chapter 4, part 1 (see clause 53). Part 2 sets out when and what basis terms in applicable consumer contracts can be assessed for fairness.

Adult social care personal budgets, in the form of direct payments, are local authority funding that allows a person to purchase adult care and support directly, making their own choice about the services they buy and the organisations they buy from. In this case, the agreement is between the consumer and the ultimate provider. That is, a contract for services covered by the Consumer Rights Bill.

However, even where a person purchases care using a direct payment, the local authority still retains a duty to ensure the person's needs are met. In cases where the contractual arrangement breaks down, the local authority must ensure care and support needs continue to be met.

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