Everyone who needs care when they are old or disabled will get it for free, Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced as he launched the National Care Service in England.
Andy Burnham says, "The National Care Service will mean that people will be treated with dignity and respect, people will have control and choice over their care and they will be helped to stay in their homes for as long as possible. People who have to live in residential care will, from 2014, get their care for free after two years and there will be more help to pay the residential costs. With an ever growing older population there will be 1.7 million more people needing care in the next 20 years, so we must radically overhaul the way care is paid for and provided.”
The National Care Service will:
- From 2014 extend the coverage of free care so that people will receive free care if they need to stay in residential care for more than two years
- Set up a commission to advise on the fairest and most sustainable way that people can make their contribution to a care system that is free when they need it
- Introduce a National Care Service Bill to set the legal foundations of the National Care Service
- Enshrine in law for the first time nationally consistent eligibility criteria for social care helping to remove the postcode lottery of care that exists now
The National Care Service will have six founding principles. It will:
- Be universal - supporting all adults with care and support needs within a framework of national entitlements
- Be free at the point of use - based on need, rather than the ability to pay
- Work in partnership - with all the different organisations and people who support individuals with care and support needs day-to-day
- Ensure choice and control - treating everyone with respect and dignity, putting people in charge of their lives
- Support family, carers and community life - recognising the vital contribution families, carers and communities play in enabling people to realise their potential
- Be accessible - easy to understand, helping people make the right choices
There is one small snag to all this. There is no time for this to be enacted before the election and everything in it depends on Labour winning the election with a large enough majority to make this anything more than just a paper promise.