New care measure ‘sets bar too high’ for elderly and disabled, say charities

Draft rules published by the Department of Health will bring in a “national minimum” level across England at which people will qualify for care such as help with washing and dressing.

But they are likely to exclude many people currently receiving such care, charities warned today.

One accused ministers of ignoring disabled and older people.

The national minimum standard will replace the current system of four bands of need, from “low” to “critical”.

It is intended to end uncertainty about what care is available in different areas and reduce the number of people having to fight for provision, said Norman Lamb, the care minister.

But he confirmed that it would be similar to the current “substantial” banding, the second highest.

Many councils already use this as a cut-off as they face budget restrictions and Mr Lamb said that the minimum would not preclude local authorities from making care available to people with lower levels of need if they could afford to.

But charities warned that in practice most would be highly unlikely to do so, meaning that around 135,000 elderly and disabled people who currently rely on state-funded care for “moderate” or “low” needs could be stripped of it when the changes come into force in 2015. Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of the disability charity Scope, and chairman of the Care and Support Alliance, said that frail vulnerable people looked certain to be “shut out” of the system.

“The Government has ignored disabled and older people, it has ignored public opinion and it has ignored the experts who are calling for a more preventive system to take pressure off A&E,” he said. “They need support to live independent lives. Without it, they are left isolated and in crisis.”

Michelle Mitchell, the director general of Age UK said: “We believe the equivalent of ‘substantial’ sets the bar too high: ‘moderate’ would be much more in tune with the spirit of the Government’s new care legislation, and with what the public has been led to expect.

“The final decision about these criteria is crucial: as it stands millions of older people and their families who have assumed they will benefit from the Government’s social care reforms will miss out.”

She said that Age UK would campaign to change the criteria before the new rules come into effect.

Mr Lamb said: “In my view, we need to be clear about the basic minimum entitlements to services so that everyone can be reassured there is some level of support they can expect, regardless of where they live.

“A national minimum is exactly that – a starting point for local councils to base their care provision on.”

Find us

Southwark Carers
3rd Floor, Walworth Methodist Church,
54 Camberwell Road, London, SE5 0EN
View map and directions

Contact us

020 7708 4497

Find us

Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).

Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle

Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45