Charity exposes ‘tragedy’ of failed Care Act
Support for disabled people and carers has worsened since the introduction of the Care Act, according to FoI requests by charity Revitalise.
The charity found that 55% of local authorities spent less on services for disabled people in the year since the Care Act came into force on 1 April 2015 than in the year before, with spending decreasing by £397m overall.
Despite the Act establishing the legal right of all disabled people and carers to an assessment of their support needs, 48% of local authorities carried out an average of 22% fewer assessments in the past year.
Chris Simmonds, chief executive of Revitalise, which provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers, said: “For the first time in 60 years a piece of legislation has come along which purports to enshrine and protect the rights, dignity and independence of disabled people and carers, but it has become abundantly clear from our own research that the Care Act has failed to make any meaningful impact on the quality of life of the people it sets out to support – and in many respects their situation appears to have got worse. This is a tragedy.”
A survey by Revitalise found similar results, with 69% of disabled people and carers saying they were unaware of changes to their entitlements as a result of the Act and 49% saying services they received had got worse in the past year.
In addition, 55% said the funding they received had decreased or not kept pace with inflation in the past year. As a result, 66% said they felt more isolated and 44% said they were struggling to make ends meet.
Simmonds said it was “hardly surprising” that local authorities were struggling to implement the Act, given the financial pressures on councils, with 86% warning some local authorities will face serious financial problems in the next three years.
The National Audit Office warned last year that the Department of Health had underestimated the cost of the Act for councils.
However, Simmonds said: “Despite its very laudable intentions, our fear is that until local authorities get squarely behind the principles of the Care Act – and the equally important issue of the shortfall in adult social care funding is addressed – disabled people and carers will continue to struggle to achieve even the most basic quality of life.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the community wellbeing spokesperson for the LGA, said: “The Care Act has the potential to radically improve the lives of older people, people with disabilities and their carers, and councils have done everything they can to implement the reforms. “However, the continuing underfunding of adult social care by government has limited councils' ability to provide support to vulnerable people and their carers.”
She said the social care precept was not enough to cover costs caused by inflation, an ageing population and the National Living Wage, and called on the government to bring forward £700m from the Better Care Fund, which it refused to do in this year’s Budget.
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