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Written - Paying for Care

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Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services

The UK Government has this afternoon published its Green Paper “Shaping the Future of Care Together” on modernising social care in England and reforming the system for funding long-term care.

 

The Green Paper sets out a range of options for reform.  It seeks to shape people’s thinking about how social care might be funded in the future through a new system that is fair, simple and affordable for everyone.  It also acknowledges the challenge of growing demographic pressures and aims to put in place a system that will work better for more people in the future. The current relevant legislation operates on an England and Wales basis and although social care is a devolved matter, the UK benefits system that impacts on charging for care is not. Therefore in considering the way forward in Wales, we will continue to work closely with the UK Government. 

 

In Wales, the Assembly Government has undertaken  a wide ranging  programme of consultation and engagement on Paying for Care, which included a public consultation, two stakeholder events and an Advisory Group.  Details of the consultation programme and its outcomes can be found on the website:  http://www.payingforcareinwales.net.

 

These are important developments that have major implications for many people.  I will therefore outline our policy position once we have had time to consider the England Green Paper carefully, alongside the outcomes of our own consultation exercise in Wales.  I intend to publish our own Green Paper for Wales on Paying for Care in the autumn and it will be subject to extensive public consultation. 

 

Consultation on the England Green Paper closes on 13 November. I understand that the earliest date for implementation of any proposals for reform flowing from the England Green Paper would be April 2014, because of the complex legislative and change management processes that need to be undertaken.

 

In the meantime we are doing what we can to improve the current system of charging for care in Wales.  We are using the powers we gained in July 2008, to amend primary legislation relating to charging for non-residential social care services in Wales.  I introduced an Assembly Measure on 30 June which will enable us to establish a fairer and more consistent regime for charging for these services across Wales.  I also announced a first steps improvement package to be implemented from April 2011, subject to agreement of the Measure.  That includes a £50 maximum weekly charge for services across Wales, together with free transport to Day Centres and new disregards of benefits in means tests for the most disabled.