ISER research cited in social care report

A report by the cross-party Commons health committee says a consensus is needed for a long-term strategy to be drawn up concerning those needing care. The Social Care report, which took evidence from a range of experts including ISER’s Steve Pudney and co-researcher Ruth Hancock from the University of East Anglia, calls for a start on planning of a National Care Service, whether funded by tax or an insurance scheme.

The committee said a failure to reach a consensus on delivering reforms would “betray current and future generations”.

All the main parties are looking at ways to end the complex series of rules and local assessments that decide if someone gets funding for their care in old age or must spend their own savings, which in some cases involves a person selling their home.

The report was critical of the government’s Personal Care at Home Bill.The bill, which is currently going through Parliament, was announced by Gordon Brown at Labour’s conference last autumn in the middle of a consultation period on wider reforms to set up a National Care Service. It also described as “policy-making on the hoof” an unexpected pledge by the prime minister that 400,000 people would get free care at home – a measure that would be introduced before the wider reforms being considered.

It said there was a strong argument for reform of the current system, which “provides a safety net service rather than a universal one, is chronically underfunded and is insufficiently focused on the needs and aspirations of individual people”.

Despite claims by the Department of Health that some claimants were using benefits to fund cruises, the report cited research undertaken by Steve Pudney and Ruth Hancock that found that disability benefits were “a lifeline to many people, with significant needs and without great wealth, who often don’t receive help from the social
care system, enabling them to meet costs of daily living.” The researchers also found “no evidence” of significant numbers of people receiving the benefits without any accompanying health problem.

Steve Pudney said:

“We are extremely pleased that the Health Select Committee has noted evidence from our research on disability benefits for older people. The committee has drawn attention to our finding no evidence that Attendance Allowance is received by people without disabilities and that, despite AA not being means tested, people on low incomes are more likely to receive it than people with similar disabilities on higher incomes. In the context of Government proposals to withdraw AA in favour of putting the money into the social care system, the Committee has called on the Department of Health to publish any evidence it has that contradicts our findings.”


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