25 September 2013
A new government bill will fail to give everyone preventative care before they reach the point of crisis, councillors across the UK have warned the British Red Cross.
The Care Bill, being debated today (24/09/13) at the Labour Party conference, gives local councils a duty to provide preventative care services from 2015.
But 64 per cent of councillors surveyed by the Red Cross this month thought these services would only help people who meet current eligibility criteria.
And 89 per cent said the changes to social care funding planned for next year made them worry about elderly and vulnerable people in their area.
Preventative care, such as regular support for people in their own homes, often prevents serious illness and injury and the need for more urgent treatment.
Bill puts free care at risk
60 per cent of the 539 respondents to the Red Cross survey warned the new responsibility would make charging for services more likely. This means the bill could actually take away the six weeks of free preventative care currently offered by councils.
And 92 per cent said their council would have to overhaul its care provision to put changes demanded by the bill in place.
Jonathan Ellis, Head of Policy and Advocacy at the British Red Cross said: “This bill is a unique opportunity to get social care right and help people before they reach crisis. But it won’t work unless the bill makes clear that services should be made available to everyone, regardless of level of need or ability to pay.
“It is widely recognised that prevention is the best, and most economical, strategy when it comes to caring for our ageing population. The majority of councillors agree that failing to invest in prevention now will cost more in the long term.
“Our fear is that unless the Bill clearly states that preventative support should be available to everyone who may benefit, and continue to be free of charge for at least the first six weeks, then the opportunity for meaningful reform will be squandered.”
In 2012 the Red Cross helped 425,246 people with health and social care services. Read how the organisation supports independent living.