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Care Act adviser Richard Pantlin writes about the implementation of new legislation and what is yet to come. 

In many respects the changes this year have been a damp squib. That’s not surprising because the new legislation was primarily consolidating existing guidance and best practice into law. Yes, carers now have clearer rights to their own assessments and support plans, but we have not seen a sudden rise in demand. This may be lack of awareness and there is some anecdotal evidence that take-up has been higher in those postcodes targeted for leaflet drops by the government.

The final statutory guidance in October set out the requirement for safeguarding approaches to be more personalised and for social work staff to be more focused on the needs and wishes of victims. If it’s potentially a criminal matter, the responsibility lies with the police to investigate the accuracy of allegations. This requires a cultural change, which will take time to bed in.

The guidance also made clear the statutory obligation to establish a personal budget for all ongoing recipients of care and support from councils, including in residential care. This creates the basis for the cap on care costs in Part 2 of the Care Act, but is making little practical difference on the ground at the moment.
The “new” right to a deferred payment agreement so that nobody has to sell their home to pay for care in their lifetime was designed to grab the headlines. The short term effect was to see a small peak of applications before April in order to avoid the new interest charges that the Act introduces. Almost all councils had schemes in place for years and it will take time for awareness to spread and take-up to increase, as with the other new rights such as the right to advocacy.

In the meantime, a bigger impact comes from the continuing cuts in local government funding, but more on that later.

So what about Part 2?

The Care Act – Part 2 is due to come into effect in April next year. To find out how this will affect social care, see the summer edition of Sanctuary Social Work News

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