To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the findings of the report, A Charge on Caring?, published by the Carers Trust in September 2015, on the level of compliance by councils with their duty under the Care Act 2014 to prevent carers developing a need for support.
The Government recognises the valuable contribution made by carers, many of whom spend a significant proportion of their life providing support to family members or friends.
The Care Act guidance is clear about policy on charging carers. The Care Act statutory guidance, at paragraph 8.50 states that:
“Local authorities are not required to charge a carer for support and indeed in many cases it would be a false economy to do so. When deciding whether to charge, and in determining what an appropriate charge is, a local authority should consider how it wishes to express the way it values carers within its local community as partners in care, and recognise the significant contribution carers make.”
The Care Act replicates the previous position where charging carers was permissible. It would not have been appropriate to impose a blanket ban on charging for carers services, because in some cases small charges are necessary to the viability of services. However, the Care Act provides additional protection to carers by making it clear that local authorities cannot charge carers for services provided to the person being cared for. This means that carers may only be charged for services provided directly to them.
Most local authorities (currently only 5%) do not routinely charge carers in recognition of the valuable contribution carers make to their local communities, and the Carers Trust report confirms that this is still the case. We will continue to make the case against routine charging of carers and to monitor the situation closely.
The Care Act and guidance are clear about the provision of preventative services. Under the Care Act, local authorities have a responsibility to support carers in a number of ways. This includes duties on local authorities to provide information and advice and universal preventative services for carers.
We continue to support implementation of the Care Act 2014.
To support implementation of the reform programme, we have established a joint Programme Management Office between the Department, Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Adults Social Services (ADASS). This unprecedented partnership is driving collaborative working with the sector, influencing the local implementation of these changes to support a consistent and coherent approach. This approach was recognised by the National Audit Office as best practice and should be adopted by other programmes.
The programme includes a series of stocktakes of local authority readiness and the latest, from June 2015, demonstrates an overall positive picture on implementation:
- Councils’ confidence in their ability to deliver the Care Act Reforms in 2015/16 remains high, with 99% very or fairly confident.
- 89% of councils say that they are ‘on track’ with their implementation. The remaining 11% report themselves as only slightly behind.
The Department is also leading on the development of a new National Carers’ Strategy that will examine what more we can do to support existing carers and the new carers.