Here’s a question – have you heard of the Care Act? If the answer is no, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
The Care Act has just turned one year old but this long-awaited act, billed as the most significant reform of social care law in over 60 years and promising to safeguard the well-being of disabled people and carers, has failed in its first year, according to a study we carried out recently.
Despite all the promises, we found that over half of England’s local authorities had spent less overall on services for disabled people and carers since the Care Act came into being than in the year before! What’s more, local authorities gave fewer Needs Assessments for disabled people and half carried out fewer Carer Assessments during the same period.
We also conducted a survey of disabled people and carers and an incredible 7 out of 10 told us that they were unaware of any changes to their entitlements as a result of the Care Act and half said the services they received had actually got worse.
So who is to blame for this sorry state of affairs? Well, we concluded, both local authorities and the Government must shoulder their fair share of responsibility. Local authorities, in fairness, are struggling with a massive and growing budget deficit, especially when it comes to adult social care, to such an extent that they voiced their concerns over implementing the Care Act even before it came into law! Nevertheless they should not be excused for their lukewarm promotion of the Act.
The Government, for its part, must back up all its promises to disabled people and carers with sufficient funds to actually enable them to be implemented. Otherwise it’s just so much talk.
So there you have it. The Care Act joins that long list of well-meaning reforms designed to improve the lot of disabled people and carers that have withered on the vine due to a lack of funding and a lack of will. In the meantime, disabled people and carers will continue to struggle to achieve even the most basic quality of life. This is not good enough, we say, and we will carry on campaigning for urgent and lasting change.