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, Prevent, Reduce, Delay: Are councils meeting their new duties to support unpaid carers, published by the Carers Trust in October 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 Care Act 2014 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.
The Carers Trust report Prevent, Reduce, Delay: Are councils meeting their new duties to support unpaid carers is a helpful contribution to the evidence around the new prevention duty and how councils are working to fulfil it as regards carers.
However, it is difficult to draw conclusions about practice from the report, given the uncertainty it notes about how councils have interpreted the Freedom of Information request on which the report is based, and the variable quality of responses.
We continue to pursue other measures to monitor and support implementation of the Care Act.
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. 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.