Social Care - Health Committee Contents

7  A new offer for older people

113. As part of a commitment to a single integrated commissioner for older people, the Committee would like to see the Government make a new offer to older people. As the Department of Health told us:

The state of current adult social care legislation has been roundly criticised as opaque, complex and anachronistic. Over 60 years, a patchwork of legislation has grown and evolved, with more added from time to time to mould the framework to different policy objectives, but without any substantial reform. There are now around 30 different pieces of legislation which relate to adult social care, with the base statute still the 1948 National Assistance Act.[112]

114. This legal tangle not only makes social care difficult to administer for professionals—it makes it almost impossible for service users and carers to navigate. The Committee also believes that, in addition to reform of the law, reform of the way this is communicated with the public is also essential. The Local Government Association told us:

With a range of assessments, means and needs tests, charges, eligibility and interactions with other systems (such as health and benefits) the adult social care system is incredibly confusing for the individual. And as legislation has developed piecemeal over time it is also often confusing for practitioners, with different aspects of adult social care codified in primary legislation, statutory instruments or set out in guidance. This level of complexity in the current system is unsustainable for the future.[113]

In their evidence to us, Age UK stated that:

A clear and consistent legislative framework is vital if older people and carers are to be able to speak out and challenge inadequate care.[114]

115. The Committee supports the need for reform of the law governing social care, but is clear that this cannot take place in isolation from the law governing health, housing and welfare services. It believes that a new, integrated legal framework is required which supports integration of care around the needs of the individual, with a focus on driving forward quality and improving outcomes.

112   Ev 134 Back

113   Ev 189 Back

114   Ev 148 Back

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Prepared 8 February 2012