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The key questions for the consultation into the future of the Attendance Allowance for older disabled people

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Professor Steve Pudney has written on his views on possible key questions for the consultation on the future of the Attendance Allowance for older disabled people. In an article for the UK Admininstrative Justice Institute, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, Professor Pudney describes his own recent research and proposes the potential key questions for the future government consultation.

“Britain currently has a dual system of public support for older disabled people. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides the non-means-tested disability benefit Attendance Allowance (AA), while local authorities (LAs) provide means-tested subsidies for social care services. Far more older people currently receive AA than LA social care support.

Just before last Christmas, the Government announced its plans to consult on a proposal to transfer responsibility for a central pillar of its disability support for older people from DWP to LAs:

The Government will also consider giving more responsibility to councils in England, and to Wales, to support older people with care needs – including people who, under the current system, would be supported through Attendance Allowance. This will protect existing claimants, so there will be no cash losers, and new responsibilities will be matched by the transfer of equivalent spending power. The Government is planning to consult in the New Year on this proposal, including on the right model of devolution and the level of flexibility that councils would need in order to effectively deliver this additional responsibility. (DCLG, 2015)

The promised consultation has not yet materialised and we do not know what specific questions the consultation will pose. I have my own list of six major questions that arise in relation to this proposal:

  • How would it affect the targeting of public support on those with greatest care needs and lowest incomes?

  • How easy will it be to access support from LAs rather than DWP?

  • What implications will there be for the administration costs of the system?

  • How good is the accuracy of LA claims assessment compared to DWP?

  • How effective is the system for challenging decisions made by LAs rather than DWP?

  • How easy is it to monitor and research the service delivery of LAs compared to DWP?”

Read the full article here