Headlines: February 6th, 2008

The Government will be warned today that the living standards of millions of severely disabled people could fall if proposals in the Wanless Review of the future of social care are adopted. Researchers at the Universities of Essex and East Anglia will tell the Minister for Care Services, Ivan Lewis, to look at the impact of the proposals.

The Review recommends replacing some of the benefits currently paid directly to disabled people with increased funding of the care system. It would mean the Attendance Allowance and the care component of the Disability Living Allowance being withdrawn or reduced with money being channelled into the care system instead.

But Professors Richard Berthoud, of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Ruth Hancock, of the University of East Anglia, are calling on the Government to look at the full consequences of any such changes. Their findings are published in a chapter of ‘Advancing Opportunity: Older People and Social Care’, and will be presented at 11 Downing Street today.

Professor Berthoud said, “There will be winners and losers. It is likely that those needing the most care, notably those living alone, will benefit. But those living as a couple may lose out. The government needs to aware of the full implications before proposing reform.”

Ruth Hancock added that the idea of putting money into caring services rather than direct payments to disabled people would inevitably mean disabled people would have reduced choice. “It could also mean an increase in means testing. The current allowances are paid on the basis of need irrespective of income or assets, whereas care services will probably still be means-tested, ”Professor Hancock added.

The researchers say the changes would, though, give increased discretion for social workers to tailor support to individual needs, and public agencies would have greater control of their budgets. Disability Benefits and Paying for Care’ by Richard Berthoud and Ruth Hancock is published in ‘Advancing Opportunity:Older People and Social Care’ by the Smith Institute.