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Care Bill [HL]

Volume 747: debated on Tuesday 9 July 2013

Committee (5th Day) (Continued)

Relevant document: 1st Report from the Delegated Powers Committee

Clause 5 : Promoting diversity and quality in provision of services

Amendment 86HA

Moved by

86HA: Clause 5, page 4, line 43, after “of” insert “sustainable”

My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall also speak to Amendment 86PA.

Clause 5 emphasises quality, which is to be welcomed, and places promoting diversity and quality in the provision of services in the Bill. However, on behalf of nurses, the Royal College of Nursing thinks that it is not enough merely to quote “quality”. Local authorities are responsible for commissioning services from providers and have a duty to ensure that these providers and services are effective to meet the needs of the individual. It does not believe that at the moment local authorities are fulfilling these duties and responsibilities if they commission providers who fail to deliver high-quality care and, worse, provide care that detrimentally impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, as has been demonstrated in some recent high-profile cases.

As commissioners, local authorities must be part of a system-wide approach to safeguarding vulnerable groups. They are therefore falling negligent in their role if they commission providers and services that are not sustainable and fail both financially and clinically.

The potential impact of this was demonstrated recently with Southern Cross, where the health and well-being—and, indeed, lives—of care home residents were put at risk following the failure of its business model. For this reason, I believe that local authorities have a responsibility for ensuring that services that are commissioned by them are of high quality and sustainable. The two amendments are to that effect. Amendment 86HA seeks to insert the word “sustainable” and Amendment 86PA seeks to insert the words,

“the importance of ensuring the sustainability and high quality of the providers it commissions”.

I beg to move.

My Lords, as this is my first intervention, I refer noble Lords to my interests as president elect of GSI, chair of an NHS foundation trust and a consultant and trainer with Cumberlege Connections.

I have three amendments in this group. Amendment 86J seeks to delete “high quality services” and instead insert,

““services appropriate to their needs as identified in the needs assessment and carer’s assessment”.

The problem with the draft as it currently stands is that it is very vague and entirely subjective depending on who is defining “high quality services”. Perhaps the noble Earl can clarify how the Government think it ought to be defined. Otherwise, there is a risk of uncertainty and inconsistency which, certainly when it comes to eligibility criteria, the Bill is designed to eradicate.

My second Amendment 86K would ensure that those in receipt of care and those involved in providing care are involved in shaping the market, as required under Clause 5. I have received a number of submissions about the market-making role of local authorities, and I was concerned to receive a submission from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, which said that while the intention of Clause 5 in promoting quality and diversity within the market is laudable, ADASS was of the view that the proposed duty placed on local authorities is wholly unrealistic. It points to a large number of providers that have no relationship or contact with local authorities, and says that combined with increased personalisation and limited leverage through the regulation framework, the ability of local authorities alone to influence diversity and quality of service is restricted.

I was very disappointed with that response, and rather taken aback by it. I hope that the noble Earl will share my view that in fact local authorities ought to be able to influence not only the market but the quality of care provided by private providers to a very great extent. Would the Minister accept that, to be effective, local authorities need to have a strong engagement both with users of services and carers, and with those who are providing services, too? That is why I tabled the amendment.

I listened with great interest to the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, and I very much agree with her about the need to ensure quality in provision of service. That brings me to my own substantive Amendment 86P, which is very much concerned with the conditions under which care workers are employed in the main by the private sector. This is a hugely important issue. Clearly, we have a growing number of disabled and older people who need care and support. The people working in the care sector are vital. We need quality people who are highly trained and who can give the right commitment to the vulnerable people they are asked to care for. Clause 5 is important because what we see is a very fragmented industry delivering care that in many cases is of questionable quality and employing insecure, low paid, unregulated staff. Amendment 86P is concerned with the importance of fostering a sustainable workforce to encourage the acquisition of skills and decent working conditions that support the continuity and quality of care.

I was shocked to see a parliamentary Answer from the Minister’s honourable friend Mr Lamb recently, showing that more than 300,000 people working in the care sector are employed on zero-hours contracts. The point that I wish to make is this: how can people who do not have the security of knowing what they will earn pass on a sense of security to the people whom they care for? The rise in zero-hours contracts is bad for service users, many of whom are, of course, extremely vulnerable. There is another issue. People who are being cared for want to see the same person to have a continuity of care relationship. We know that that is severely hindered by those wretched zero-hours contracts. I believe that secure employment would allow staff to concentrate on caring rather than worrying about whether they are earning enough money for themselves and their families to live on.

I ought to declare an interest as a member of UNISON, which produced an excellent report, Time to Care, which undertook a survey in 2012 of care home workers. It showed that 80% of those who responded had to rush work or leave a client early to go to another call on what is called call cramming— in other words, too many calls for a care worker to undertake—and 56% received between the national minimum wage and £8 an hour. The majority did not receive set wages. Not surprisingly, turnover is high, while wages and conditions are poor.

Here is a shocking statistic. Nearly 57.8% are not paid for travelling time between visits. This morning I met a carer in Southwark who works roughly 20 hours on a zero-hours contract. She reckons that, because of the travelling time, she actually works for 27 hours, but is paid for only 20. The problem is that there is a race to the bottom because local authorities are, in my view, neglecting their responsibilities for ensuring that, when they place contracts, they are with good quality organisations. The companies who are exploiting their workers in this way are winning contracts at the expense of companies who treat their employees wisely. No wonder, therefore, that 36.7% of respondents are often allocated different clients on a daily basis, so that there is no chance of any relationship being developed.

There are many other statistics. The scandal of the 15-minute visit is well known. Indeed, the UK Homecare Association survey shows that three-quarters of all trips to old people have to be completed in less than half an hour and one in 10 is limited to no more than 15 minutes.

In Committee last week, I discussed with the Minister whether the CQC could be persuaded—or indeed, I hope, instructed—by your Lordships, to prioritise the regulation and inspection of local authorities in their commissioning duties. We have heard a lot about the CQC’s past failures and future hopes. It is clear that the focus is going to be on the NHS. I do not disagree with that, but when you think of the thousands of vulnerable people dependent on care workers, I wonder if the priority is right. If I were in the CQC’s shoes, I would focus on the care sector and particularly on local authorities and their own responsibilities. That is probably the best way to get into this issue.

We could have a debate about the regulation of social care workers. We could debate mandatory training and the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, has tabled an amendment which would very much focus on that. I hope the Minister will recognise that we have a problem here. If we are to see this legislation enacted in the way that we all hope it will be, I am convinced that we have to look at the way that workers in the care sector are employed and do everything we can to prevent the abuse that we are seeing with these zero-hours contracts.

My Lords, I rise to speak to the amendments in my name—Amendments 86L, 86M, 86N and 86Q. These amendments are all about quality of care. We know what happens at the moment. There is the opposite of a monopoly in that there are lots of sellers, but largely one buyer of care. Many care homes know this. The local authority is in a very strong position and will tell the care home managers—in the private or voluntary sectors—that they will take 20 beds and negotiate a price which is very low. That means that the care home cannot provide a decent quality of care at that unrealistic price. This has been talked about and written about by Laing and Buisson and various other bodies. It is a known fact among those who follow very closely what goes on, but at the moment it is not really known to the public.

This is an impossible situation that should not continue. Care homes charge self-funders more than the required amount in order to cover the true costs so that they can provide a decent quality of care. In a time when we are looking for transparency, this Bill, when it is enacted, will open up these arrangements to public scrutiny because self-funders and those funded by their local authority will know what is going on. This secret tax, as I think of it, on self-funders will then be out in the open. It is really bad that this kind of thing is going on in this country, although it is not recognised by many people.

We must make sure that we have an independent adjudicator who can settle funding disputes between local authorities and care providers. We must also recognise that not all care providers are large private sector chains. I have received a lot of information about this from the Royal British Legion. It may be quite a large body, but it is a charity. Because of these arrangements, it cannot manage to provide a decent quality of care at the sort of price being quoted. There is a great deal of secrecy in this area, with local authorities not consulting local providers and no one inspecting the quality of the services being provided before a maximum tariff is agreed. All of these operations should be much more open and clear. Apart from the appointment of a care providers’ adjudicator, we have to ensure that the duties on local authorities enable us to be clear that a consistently high standard of care is being provided in the area. If we go on otherwise, we will be promoting secrecy, which is entirely inappropriate. Moreover, we can ensure minimum standards of care if we get this right, and we can do that by specifying a suitable level of quality when commissioning services.

The last thing I want to propose is that the Government should look at the tasks that a care worker has to do in order to make a visit to a person needing care worth while. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, also talked about this. In most cases, they cannot manage to do everything that is necessary in around 15 minutes, plus make the journey to and from the person being visited. It is physically impossible. As we know, it is largely a breach of human rights simply to pop in, try to clean someone who may not have had a visit for many hours, serve a meal and talk to the person, change their clothing and the bedding, and do those things that are considered to make up a reasonable quality of care provision in 15 minutes. That needs to change. It should be necessary to adhere to specific minimum standards, not to the length of time taken to make a visit. It should be the qualifying tasks that matter, not the time it takes to do the work. We have to change things around so that it is what needs to be done that matters, not the time taken. These amendments, together with an adjudicator, would ensure that that happens.

My Lords, I rise to support the amendments of my noble friend Lord Hunt and the remarks just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross.

There have been a number of scandals, both about care at home and care in care homes, over the past year. I am astonished that the situation is not much worse than it is. When you see the pay and conditions imposed, and the people working under absurd and exploitative conditions in this sector—I use that old-fashioned word, exploitative, because it is the only one that applies—it is quite remarkable how many of them still care and still work their heads off for the people for whom they care We should pay due tribute to all those people.

Approaching this objectively, and it has been this way for some time, we have a situation that would be solved readily in a free market. The supply of people providing care is going down, and it will continue to go down, largely because of the Government’s crackdown on immigration; many of the workers in this sector are immigrants, as can be seen when visiting nearly any care home. The demand is going up year after year, if only for demographic reasons. What you would expect to happen would be for pay to go up, attracting more and better workers to the sector, thus resolving the situation. However, that is not happening.

Why? Because, in effect, there is a monopoly purchaser: the local authority. However, the local authority can only buy with the money it is allowed by the Government. As we know, the amount available for care, which should have been going up, has been going down. You can call on the CQC or local authorities to pay more but they are in an impossible position. If they do not connive in the appalling conditions inflicted on these workers, they will not be able to provide the services at all. So they try to get through another year and accept a lower tender or another company, even though they know that their standards are appalling. This is not the fault of the local authority. It is the fault of our national failing to put money into care while we have continued to ring-fence money for health and education.

I was once asked by a Care Minister, if I had money to spend in the care sector—having studied it quite a bit on the royal commission—how I would spend it. I said that I would give them all £1 an hour more and improve the standards of their training. I would say exactly the same thing today. I am supportive of the Dilnot proposals; I think that it is wonderful that we are spending more than £1 billion to help richer people not to be wiped out by their care costs. It is a great thing. However, it is not as great a thing as it would be if, at the same time, we were providing the money to allow local authorities properly to look after and provide basic services to people who need them, and to provide the money that would enable those providing those services to live decently and with pride in the wonderful job that they have been given to do.

My Lords, I support Amendments 86N and 86Q tabled by my noble friend Lady Greengross, to which I have added my name.

This is a very important debate. As has been said, these amendments are all about quality and speak to many of the concerns to which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has just given powerful expression. The Care Bill introduces a number of important new duties and responsibilities to help place the right values at the heart of our care system. The well-being clause, for example, provides a foundation stone for the principles that should inform the whole of social care. However, our social care system is only as strong as the services that are actually commissioned. With budgets getting tighter and tighter, and demand getting ever greater, local authorities all too often commission care and support services based solely on finding the cheapest possible option. Unless we can ensure that the way in which services are commissioned drives the quality outcomes that we all want to see, important changes such as the well-being principle will remain simply a pious aspiration.

Amendment 86N would oblige local authorities to adhere to minimum standards in the way that they commission services and would give the Government power to make regulations for appropriate minimum standards. Amendment 86Q would provide for regulations to ensure that care visits lasted long enough to deliver the support needed. This would exert an important influence on the quality of services for disabled and older people. Focusing too much on cost creates an unacceptably high risk that care will be of the poor quality that we have heard too much about of late, which does not meet the basic needs of vulnerable people for support to enable them to live with dignity.

There are some fantastic examples of high-quality services across the country, despite severe budgetary constraints, and much can be learnt from how some local authorities have been able to build quality into what they do. However, there are also too many examples of people suffering as a result of poor-quality commissioning and receiving totally insufficient support, which consists simply of fleeting visits from carers who barely have time to say hello, let alone get to know and understand the needs of the person they are supporting.

I have heard of many cases of care workers rushing in to deliver care in visits of 15 minutes or even less. Fifteen minutes is not long enough to help people wash, get dressed, prepare a meal and use the bathroom. It is hardly long enough to take your coat off. It certainly is not long enough to promote people’s well-being. Care visits can be the only contact that socially excluded and vulnerable people have in a day. It is sobering that Leonard Cheshire Disability has recently announced that it will not accept contracts that provide for visits of 15 minutes or less.

A recent survey of local authorities found that 90% still pay providers according to the time they spend with the service user rather than the outcomes they achieve. This simply encourages a race to the bottom. The Bill needs to contain provisions that will help to ensure that quality of service is a key consideration in commissioning decisions. There must be checks and balances in the commissioning process and quality must be part of the equation. If we want a society that provides care based on need and not merely that which can be provided at the lowest cost, we need to support these amendments.

Ministers in the Department of Health have made a number of positive statements about improving quality in care. I hope that the Minister might be willing to accept these or similar amendments, but I ask him at the very least to clarify what the Government intend to do to make the positive rhetoric on quality a reality when it comes to commissioning services.

My Lords, I will speak briefly to Amendment 86N, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross. We have had an interesting debate, with quality at the heart of it. That is absolutely right because the whole principle of shaping markets has to be around providing quality and safe services for vulnerable people.

I was interested in the response to this that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, had from ADASS. Certainly, I do not recollect from when it came to give evidence that that was its reaction, but I will look that up.

The other thing that I want to reflect on is this business of changing people for domiciliary care. That is not what people want. What people want is to be cared for by people they know; they do not want different people coming in day after day. My mother has a team of eight or nine people who call on her but she knows them all. That gives flexibility to the agency that sends them her way. It is not impossible. People need to know their care staff. My mother knows a week in advance who is coming, on what day and at what time, which is hugely reassuring.

I also have huge sympathy with those who have pointed to the scandal of zero-hours contracts. Whatever can be done to try to stop that practice must be looked at with some urgency. This is all about quality.

The amendment would ensure that services commissioned from providers are of high quality and provide a high level of safety for patients or those being cared for. The scrutiny committee recommended linking quality and safety with the NICE quality standards. That is really very straightforward: the NICE care quality standards exist, so why should services not be commissioned based on them?

Will my noble friend explain how quality will be assured and what the rationale is behind abandoning, or not taking up, the NICE link? Is he able to offer assurance by putting into regulations the link with those NICE standards?

My Lords, in tabling these amendments, the noble Lords, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Lord Beecham, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Greengross and Lady Emerton, bring to the attention of the Committee the important role that local authorities have to play in fostering a market that offers people genuine choice between a range of high-quality care and support services.

To support choice and control for individuals, and to improve quality of care, it is critical that a range of types of care and support is available locally, and that the market in services is able to grow and adapt over time to meet people’s needs.

The Care Bill marks the first time that local authorities’ responsibilities to promote the market in local care and support services has been captured in law. This recognises the importance of ensuring the availability of a variety of high-quality services to meet the needs and preferences of all local people, not just those whose care is arranged by the local authority.

The duty is about ensuring that the market meets the needs of local people with a choice of quality services; it is not simply about promoting a market for its own sake. This focus on quality should be understood in a broad sense. High-quality services will be fit for purpose and appropriate to an individual’s needs. Consequently, the important issue raised by Amendment 86J, of ensuring that local authorities shape markets that offer people a choice between appropriate services, is already covered by the clause: propriety is an important component of quality. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, that Clause 5 requires local authorities to shape diverse markets in care and support services. I do so in the light of her concern that low-paying local authority contracts might preclude smaller, voluntary sector organisations from playing a part in the market. The provision will include ensuring that people are able to choose from a range of providers, including small and micro providers.

In fulfilling the duty, it is vital that local authorities engage with adults using services, their carers and providers, as Amendment 86K emphasises. The Bill therefore requires local authorities to consider how providers can meet current and future demand for services, and the importance of fostering innovation and improvement in their local area. Consequently, I reassure noble Lords that it would not be possible to fulfil the duty as it stands without engaging providers, adults who are using care and support services, and carers.

A number of the amendments relate to one of the most important ways in which local authorities can shape local markets: their commissioning decisions. Local authorities are required by Clause 5 to consider the importance of ensuring sustainability. This requires a strategic perspective on the strengths and demands placed on care and support providers now and in the future. It means that local authorities must consider how their actions may impact on the stability of their local market. They should not act in a way which might risk the sustainability of the market. Looking especially at Amendment 86L, local authorities that set unreasonable or undeliverable prices which undercut the financial sustainability of the provider market would therefore not be fulfilling this duty. However, it is important to emphasise that the normal and effective operation of any market includes some providers entering and exiting the market. The Government do not wish to prevent exit, or require local authorities to prevent exit. It would not, therefore, be appropriate for local authorities to promote the sustainability of individual providers rather than the market in general. For that reason, I cannot support the amendments proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, although, of course, I sympathise with her concerns.

The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, expressed the worry that low-paying local authority contracts might lead to the subsidy of providers by self-funders. The introduction of the cap on care costs will mean that a person who chooses to meet their own needs will be able to compare what they might pay to meet their needs with what the local authority pays. If a person wants to, they will be able to ask the local authority to arrange to meet their eligible care needs so that what they pay to the local authority to meet their needs would be the same as the figure that counts towards the cap. I hope that is helpful.

Does that mean that a self-funder in a home would therefore know what the local authority rate was going to be? That is what I understand the noble Lord to have just said. The information would flow through, would it not?

The point is that what the local authority pays will be transparent. Individuals can therefore make their own decisions in a much more informed way than they can, maybe, at present.

I am sorry to press the noble Earl. As I understand it, in many homes, self-funders are completely unaware of what the local authorities pay.

Under the cap arrangement, there will be for all to see a notional rate that the local authority will pay for care. That is the rate at which the progress against the cap will be measured for a particular individual in a particular area. We are moving to a different system.

We are almost anticipating a later debate when it comes to the Dilnot cap. This is an important issue. It is well-known, is it not, that self-funders essentially subsidise those people funded by local authorities. We know that some homes simply would not be viable if they existed only on local authority rates. In a transparent era, will self-funders put up with that? The cap relates only to local authority rates, so self-funders, in many cases, will have to pay much more than £72,000 before they can look to the local authority for support. If they now know that in addition to having to pay well above the £72,000 they have actually been subsidising people who have been supported by local authorities, I think it is going to lead to some severe problems.

I do not expect the noble Earl to be able to respond in detail, and perhaps this is in anticipation of the debate that we will have in our next session, but I am not sure whether the issue of fairness has been factored in to an understanding of how this is going to work in practice.

Local authorities and individuals can pay different prices for care. That can be because individuals have consciously chosen premium facilities or because the local authority has negotiated a lower price in exchange for buying care for a larger number of people, which can often happen as well. As is the case now, local authorities and providers will continue to negotiate arrangements and fees for providing care and support. This process should ensure that contracts reflect the market price for providing care. Local authorities that fail to negotiate properly with providers and do not have regard to the actual cost risk legal challenges to the care fees that they set. However, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, I would say that in future the independent personal budget will set out the cost to the local authority. That is the transparency point that I was trying to get at earlier.

I am very sorry but the point is being missed and I think that my noble friend on the Front Bench tried to qualify it. Up to £75,000, the self-funder is paying the full whack. As I understand it, what is being said is that in the same home the local authority rate either will be or will not be available to the self-funder who is paying that full rate. All I want to know is: if they are paying under the £75,000 cap, will they know what the local authority rate is? That is what I am trying to find out.

My Lords, I have mentioned to the noble Earl another aspect of this which I think needs to be taken into account. Not only will this funding by some people of other people—or the “secret tax”, as I call it—become better known but there will be a strong incentive for self-funders to dispose of their assets so that the local authority pays the local authority rate for them, even if they pay in more on top of that. Therefore, I think that the Government need to take into account the huge extra cost on local authorities which we have not thought about so far. If self-funders were to go to a financial adviser and ask for advice, I imagine that many financial advisers would say, “Dispose of some of your assets and at least the local authority will pay that rate for you”.

But for somebody with assets who is looking to be taken care of in a residential home the incentive to dispose of their personal assets is surely going to be a great deal less than it is at the moment. I would have thought that that incentive was much greater now than it will be in the future, when we hope that there will be financial products on the market to enable people to insure up to the level of the cap. Therefore, I am not sure that I completely understand the force of the point that the noble Baroness is making. Obviously there will be some incentive for people to dispose of their assets but I suggest that it will be less than she has stated.

To move on to the noble Baroness’s Amendment 86M, there will be a dispute between a local authority and a provider as to the prices proposed or other matters. Occasionally, disputes may become intractable. Therefore, I completely understand why the noble Baroness proposes through her amendment to, in effect, require a new independent adjudicator to arbitrate in any unresolvable disputes. However, it is our view that any disputes arising as part of a contractual negotiation must be resolved through that process. Appointing or establishing a new independent adjudicator would be likely to add unnecessary cost and bureaucracy to the process of commissioning. We also believe that it will be likely to increase disputes by providing a means of challenge which would soon become a standard process.

Local authority commissioning practices also have an important role to play in promoting high-quality services. We fully support the principle behind the arguments expressed today that we need to move away from overly prescriptive commissioning, which focuses on price and timeslots, to consider how local authorities can deliver better outcomes and quality care. However, although the law can set out clear principles on quality, as Clause 5 does, that alone will not tackle poor commissioning practices. The underlying causes of poor quality commissioning are systemic and cultural. We are therefore working with the sector to bring an end to commissioning practices that undermine people’s dignity and choice, including through a homecare challenge announced recently by my honourable friend the Minister of State for Care and Support. We will also develop statutory guidance on commissioning to support local authorities to commission effectively.

I turn to the importance of the development of the care and support workforce. The Government fully support the need to raise the quality of care received by people by developing a high-quality care and support workforce. However, this is another area in which we do not believe that legislation is the most effective way of achieving our objectives.

The terms and conditions of care and support workers, including pay, are of course ultimately a matter for local employers within the existing requirements of employment legislation. However, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that I agree that the idea of a zero-hour contract is in most circumstances completely incompatible with a model of high-quality care in which the individual really gets to know their care worker.

We are working with the sector to encourage the acquisition of skills and improve the quality of services, including through the development of a code of conduct and minimum training standards. The department has also worked with Skills for Care to develop the social care commitment to promote culture change and skills development.

My noble friend Lady Jolly asked me how quality would be assured and whether there would be a link to NICE standards. We will work with the sector to develop guidance about the duty, including how they can ensure that high-quality services are provided in their area. We are working with local authorities to support them to develop their capacity to shape local markets. We launched a programme of support last year and intend to keep working with local authorities to support their commissioning practices. However, I acknowledge that there is work to do in that area.

The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked about the CQC and expressed the view that it should be focusing more on the care sector and the delivery of its responsibilities. As drafted, the Bill consolidates the situation as it existed under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 in terms of the CQC’s role in conducting reviews of local authority commissioning, as we covered in a previous debate. The new Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care will be working closely with local authorities as the commissioners of care and support.

I hope that I have succeeded in reassuring the Committee that the Bill already places sufficient requirements on local authorities to work with people and providers in their area to develop sustainable and high-quality markets in care and support services. That objective cannot be achieved by legislation alone, and we are therefore working with local authorities and the sector more widely to improve commissioning practices and develop a high-quality social care workforce. I respectfully ask that noble Lords do not press their amendments.

My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have contributed to this debate, which has been extremely wide and meaningful when, as the Minister said, it is the first time that legislation has tackled the issue of going to the market place for care. Enough has been said by noble Lords to express the great concern that there is for the standards of care and its sustainability. I thank the noble Earl for his responses, but we would like to take this away to think more about some of the issues raised tonight.

It has been helpful to have the debate and to bring out the issues. Perhaps we can now be slightly more constructive in looking at the way forward. I beg to leave to withdraw the amendment on the basis of reflecting on the issues raised.

Amendment 86HA withdrawn.

Amendments 86J to 87 not moved.

Clause 5 agreed.

Clause 6: Co-operating generally

Amendments 87ZZA to 87ZC not moved.

Clause 6 agreed.

Clause 7: Co-operating in specific cases

Amendments 87A to 87E

Moved by

87A: Clause 7, page 7, line 15, leave out “adult” and insert “individual”

87B: Clause 7, page 7, line 16, after “carer,” insert “a carer of a child or a young carer,”

87C: Clause 7, page 7, line 22, leave out “adult” and insert “individual”

87D: Clause 7, page 7, line 23, after “carer,” insert “a carer of a child or a young carer,”

87E: Clause 7, page 7, line 30, at end insert—

“( ) “Carer of a child” means a person who is a carer for the purposes of section 57.

“( ) “Young carer” has the same meaning as in section 60.”

Amendments 87A to 87E agreed.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed.

Clause 8 agreed.

Clause 9: Assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support

Amendments 87F and 87G not moved.

Amendment 87H

Moved by

87H: Clause 9, page 8, line 21, after “outcomes,” insert—

“( ) whether, and if so to what extent, the provision of a structured programme of care provided for a limited period to help a person maintain or regain the ability to live at home could contribute to the achievement of those outcomes,”

My Lords, I shall also speak as briefly as I can to Amendments 88PA, 88PB and 88PC, on which my name also appears.

The purpose of Amendment 87H is to ensure that intermediate care and reablement needs are considered as part of the assessment process so that a holistic approach to meeting care and support needs is taken. In the White Paper of July last year, the Government promised that the new system would,

“promote wellbeing and independence at all stages to reduce the risk of people reaching a crisis point, and so improve their lives”.

As part of their vision for care and support, the Government accepted that they needed to move away from an approach that saw people as having to wait for a crisis before they could access care and support. The White Paper included a number of references to reablement, which the Government saw as helping people regain their independence at home.

The Bill, however, needs to be strengthened to take this perspective more fully on board and so that local authorities are clear about the steps they need to take to adopt a genuinely preventive approach to meeting needs for care and support, particularly as regards providing or arranging for reablement. At present reablement, for all the many promising words in the Caring for Our Future White Paper, remains conspicuously absent from the Bill. Whether it is enabling someone who has recently had a stroke to regain through their rehabilitation the skills they need for independent living, easing a person’s discharge from hospital, helping people when difficulties start to arise following a bereavement or after a fall, or providing aids and adaptations following the onset of sensory loss, reablement can be crucial in determining whether someone experiencing acute health problems goes on to develop long-term care needs or, on the contrary, feels confident enough to go on living independently.

There are a number of definitions of reablement, but broadly it refers to the relearning of self-care skills following a stay in hospital or the onset of an illness or disability. The aim is always to reduce the need for longer-term support. The social policy research unit and the personal social services research unit at the University of Kent and the LSE have analysed home care reablement services and found that reablement is associated with a significant decrease in subsequent use of social care services. The cost of the services they examined, used by a reablement group over 12 months, excluding the cost of reablement itself, was 60% less than the cost of the services used by those in a conventional home care group who did not receive reablement. To ensure that needs assessments properly factor in the potential health and well-being gains associated with a structured programme of reablement, Clause 9 needs amending to ensure that authorities assess the extent to which reablement or intermediate care would help people achieve the outcomes specified as a consequence of Clause 9(4)(d).

Amendment 88PB is the parallel amendment in relation to Clause 13, on eligibility. Its purpose is to avoid people who are judged ineligible for care packages also being denied intermediate care and reablement services or enduring unnecessary delays, by ensuring that the benefits of providing this help are considered when a local authority makes a determination on a person’s eligibility for care. Too many people do not get offered this preventive support, with the result that many of them are left to struggle on their own. This merely delays the moment when their needs worsen and they require more expensive support.

A lot has been written about reablement over the past five years or so in Green Papers and White Papers, but not yet in statute. What intermediate care and reablement have in common is that they are time-limited interventions that can be provided to a person independently of their eligibility for longer-term care and support. Crucially, as we have seen, they are also cost-effective. Curiously, the Bill does not mention reablement by name, although Clause 2(4)(d) paves the way for it when it speaks of regulations making provision for,

“services, facilities or resources which … are provided for a specified period only”.

Reablement or intermediate care can make all the difference between a person going under and remaining independent. A report produced by Deloitte for Sense and four other charities estimated a net return of 52% to a local authority that invested in a communicator guide and a rehabilitation service for deafblind adults who need help gaining news communication skills. It is essential that local authorities consider whether, and if so to what extent, a person would benefit from the provision of these time-limited but effective services. This does not place them under a duty to provide intermediate care and reablement services but, at a minimum, it ensures that they consider the value of putting in place those services where this would help maximise independence and also save the council money in the long run.

Such a battery of heavyweights have their names on Amendment 88PA that I hardly need to say anything about it—they will make the case better than I ever could. The amendment slightly expands the duty on local authorities to consider preventive support following a determination on eligibility. It provides that local authorities must consider not only whether service users would definitely benefit from the provision of preventive services under Clause 2, or information and advice under Clause 4, but whether they “would be likely to” benefit from such services. We have to be wary of placing burdens on local authorities that they cannot meet but this amendment is careful not to do that. It just opens the gateway to preventive services a little wider and makes it more difficult for local authorities to use unreasonable justifications for refusing to provide preventive support.

Amendment 88PC goes a bit further and would provide that a council must provide preventive services, facilities or resources whenever it determines that a person is at risk of developing an eligible need, they would or would be likely to benefit from such services, or the provision of such services would be likely to prevent or delay the development of an eligible need.

I understand why the Government do not want to create an individual entitlement to preventive services on grounds of cost. Clause 2 does not create an individual entitlement to preventive services. Individually enforceable rights to preventive services would be a bridge too far and would place an unrealistic burden on local authorities. However, given that £3.8 billion has been announced for the integration and transformation fund, which includes the funding CCGs currently hold for preventive initiatives such as reablement and carers’ breaks, there is funding for providing an individual entitlement in the circumstances envisaged by this amendment—that is to say, where the authority determines that a person is at risk of developing an eligible need, they would or would be likely to benefit from such services or the provision of such services would be likely to prevent or delay the development of an eligible need.

The national eligibility threshold is likely to remain broadly equivalent to the “substantial” level. The Government envisage that people with ineligible needs will be able to access universal preventive services covered in Clause 2. However, preventive services are often not prioritised sufficiently by local authorities. A Scope survey showed that the vast majority of people whose needs do not meet the eligibility threshold are not being effectively picked up by universal services. Among the respondents, 63% with moderate needs, 43% with substantial needs and 50% with critical needs had to pay for their own care, leading to financial instability. This is why we need Amendment 88PC. I beg to move.

My Lords, I speak to Amendments 88B and 88N in this group. The noble Lord, Lord Touhig, has added his name to Amendment 88B, which is about the need to co-ordinate between two pieces of legislation: this Bill and the Children and Families Bill, which is also going through the House. It focuses on assessment, particularly at the time of transition from children’s to adult services. That is a very sensitive time, and the Minister will not need reminding that it was the weakness in the system of transition that prompted the initiative for the introduction of the Autism Act. There is much well documented casework about young people on the autistic spectrum who move from children’s to adult services that gives us a great deal of cause for concern. As the noble Lord, Lord Low, has just pointed out, if people do not get their correct assessment and services at the right time, they simply move on to more serious deterioration in their condition. Just looking at the bottom line, it is usually a crisis management situation, which is not good for the individual and certainly costs the statutory services a lot more money than it would have done if the transition had been smooth and matters had been dealt with properly.

Amendment 88B therefore calls on the Government to consider how this new system of SEN reforms in the Children and Families Bill will fit with the changes that are proposed in this Bill. Appropriate planning and support in the move to adult services is very important, and it is important that these two areas are co-ordinated. There is a danger that they could be done quite separately from each other, which would not be in the interest of the individual concerned. Under the Children and Families Bill, some young people—for example, those with autism—will be able to access an assessment for the new education, health and care plans, which of course will replace what we used to refer to as statements, up to the age of 25. This creates a clear overlap with care assessments under the Care Bill, which the same young people with autism may be eligible for from the age of 18. It is very important that the two systems of assessments and plans talk to each other.

In particular, that means that when a local authority carries out a needs assessment, as in Clause 9 of the Care Bill, it must ensure that it is co-ordinated with any assessment for an education, health and care plan that may also be under way under a separate piece of legislation. I have mentioned autism—I am sure that will not surprise my noble friend—but of course it will apply to young people with other conditions as well. However, this is particularly important for the autistic community because we know that it is during that move from the structure of full-time education in school into adolescent and adult services that you start to see a great deal of change in the individual, as the structured routine of the day starts to move to more adult choices and ways of doing things, including education.

I therefore hope that my noble friend can reassure me tonight that these two pieces of legislation will be compatible, that discussions have taken place between the two departments to make sure that there is no overlap, and that that famous word “seamless”, which I have heard so many times related to transition from children’s to adult services, will genuinely mean “seamless”. I spent 18 years as a Member of Parliament but did not see much that I would recognise as seamless. We have the opportunity to make this seamless. I hope that my noble friend will assure me that that will happen tonight.

I will speak very quickly to Amendment 88N. I tried with an earlier amendment to get my noble friend to agree that social work-qualified staff played a greater role in providing information. I will now have another go, as when he replied earlier I got the hint that he did not seem to accept my argument. I will try again in terms of their role of assessment, which is much more narrowly defined in Amendment 88N. That amendment ensures that information and advice are not only proportionate, but that the local authority must employ social work-qualified staff to provide the information and advice in cases where present or foreseeable needs are classified as complex. Of course, this goes into regulation, which is what this part of the Bill requires.

I hope that my noble friend will look more kindly on this particular recommendation because these are complex needs or—and this is important—foreseeable complex needs, so you are dealing with some of the most difficult cases. You are almost certainly looking at cases where there is some lack of capacity for a start, as well as people with multiple diagnoses and those with very complex situations. It is important that social workers are there. I am asking a Minister with responsibility for health to recognise that unless we in this House bring social work and healthcare together in statute, whatever our best intentions, it will not happen. Again, from all that casework I dealt with—I raised this at Second Reading—as a Member of Parliament, when somebody sat in my surgery and said, “What you need is to get all these people together round a table”, I, the MP, could never work out why nobody ever took responsibility for it. By bringing into regulation the role of the social worker, you make some progress in ensuring that in these very complex cases things are not only speeded up but that there is a much better outcome.

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 88A. This amendment relates to Clause 9, which requires a local authority to carry out an assessment where an adult may have needs for care and support. The clause sets out things that the local authority must consider, for example the outcomes the person wants to achieve in their day-to-day life. There are similar provisions in Clause 10 in relation to a carer’s need for support. There is, however, an anomaly between Clauses 9 and 10. Under Clause 10(6), the local authority also has to take account of whether the carer works or wants to work, and whether the carer is taking part—or wants to take part—in education, training or recreation. That provision is missing from Clause 9, while in other respects the two clauses closely mirror one another. Surely the same provision as Clause 10 proposes in relation to carers should apply to people in need of care and support? While many of those with a need for care and support may be elderly, or may not be able to—or want to—work, others will want to. Many will be interested in education, training or recreation. This is an important gap that sends an unfortunate message about the ability or desire to work of those with needs for care and support.

Of course, it may be that the Government will argue that this is covered by Clause 1(2)(d), which includes in the concept of well-being,

“participation in work, education, training or recreation”.

If that were so, however, presumably the separate provision for carers in Clause 10(6) would not be needed.

I understand that overwhelming evidence exists that carers are often forced to withdraw from education or employment. That may well be why the Government felt they should include the emphasis on these things in relation to the assessment of carers’ needs. Possibly there is not as much evidence in relation to disabled people, and, as I have said, many social care users are older people. That does not mean that they will not be interested in education, training, recreation or even work. One in three people who use social care services are disabled people of working age.

In the recent report The Other Care Crisis by five disability organisations, the researchers found that time and again disabled people told them that the right care and support was critical in finding and sustaining work, studying and keeping fit or enjoying the arts. How can you hold down a job if the hours and type of support you are provided with take no account of a course you may be studying or of a job? What if the job starts at 9.30 am but your carers do not come to get you up until 9 am, or they turn up at different times each morning because of short-staffing?

Carers UK and others have rightly worked very hard to show the impact of caring on employment chances. As I say, this may well be the reason why the Government has included Clause 10(6). The Government may simply not have realised, however, how this would come across to users of social care services who wish to work. I hope the Government will want to rectify this anomaly.

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 88SA, 88SB and 92ZZCZA, all of which are designed to ensure that parents who have care and support needs receive sufficient services to ensure that the caring burden on their child is not such as to impede their education and well-being.

Young carers are, of course, children and young people under 18 who provide regular and ongoing care and emotional support to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances. The 2011 census identified 178,000 young carers in England and Wales; an 83% increase in the number of young carers aged five to seven years old; and a 55% increase in the number of eight and nine year-old children caring. I find these numbers staggering. We are talking about a lot of children of a very young age caring for a very considerable number of hours each week.

Why are the amendments important? Apart from a concern for the well-being of children, the issue is important for taxpayers. Young carers whose parents do not receive the support they need have poor educational and employment outcomes and suffer from negative health, with obvious cost implications for the Treasury. These amendments and the resulting early intervention could alleviate those problems and avoid crises, family breakdown and child protection issues, which, again, are a tragedy not only for the family but for the taxpayer and society.

It is vital that an assessment of an adult includes the identification of a young carer—often these young people simply are not identified—and the impact on them of the care needs of the parent. The frequent failure to identify many young carers, and the risk that children are left caring for an adult because the parent has unmet care and support needs, are the main concerns of the National Young Carers Coalition, which is behind these amendments.

Having identified that a young carer is involved, the amendments seek to ensure that an adult will then meet the eligibility criteria and have their care and support needs met so that children will be protected from inappropriate caring. Essentially, there should be no burdensome unmet care and support needs that have to be met by the child or young person, to their own detriment.

Our rationale for tabling these amendments is that the Care Bill does not ensure that adult needs are met sufficiently to protect children. The amendments go further than the draft eligibility regulations, which state that an adult should be eligible if they are unable to fully carry out any caring responsibilities they have for a child—which on the face of it sounds perfectly fine. This will help ensure that parents with care and support needs receive support so that they can carry out parenting and other family responsibilities, and will remove the risk that a child will not be cared for sufficiently. However, it is also vital that an adult should become eligible for care and support so that a child is not at risk of having to meet the adult’s needs.

It is one thing to support an adult to parent a child, but even if a parent fulfils their parenting responsibilities sufficiently, there could still be care and support needs for which the child may assume responsibility. It comes down to a definition of parental responsibility at a particular age. You could say that 11 year-olds can look after themselves, essentially, and that parents just have to be loving and kind. However, if the 11 year-old is doing all the shopping, cooking, washing and washing up, and spending 40 or 50 hours a week doing that, clearly the fact that the mother is loving and caring will not be adequate. That is the point we are making.

It is well illustrated by a comment made by a young person who cares for his mother. When asked how his mum’s needs should be assessed so that the family got the right support, he said, “I am the main person looking after my mum, but the question that needs to be asked is, ‘What support would be provided to mum if I wasn’t there? Would mum get more help if I wasn’t there to look after her? Would her needs be met quite differently?’”. Really, he said it all.

In short, the eligibility criteria do not go far enough. I had to have this explained to me because, on the face of it, it sounds fine. I understand that the Government have committed to look at how the Care Bill, in addition to the Children and Families Bill, might be changed to protect young carers. I would welcome firm assurances from the Minister that the Government are looking at these points, and a clear indication of what we can expect to see in the eligibility regulations.

My Lords, I will be very brief in speaking in support of Amendment 88B. Certainly, I very much welcome the opportunity to improve access to the right support for young people with autism. I have met many young people with autism who have found that times of change, such as the transition from school to adulthood, are very challenging. It is the time when families need the appropriate planning and support to move from children’s services to adult services. In recent times I have talked to quite a few young people and their families who tell me that life at the time of transition, as they move from young people’s services to adult services, is like standing on a cliff edge.

The noble Baroness, Lady Browning, made a very powerful case that she articulated very well when she said that there would be considerable overlaps between this Bill and the Children and Families Bill. It is important that these two systems talk to each other. They must not operate in silos or we will never, as the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, said, ever get round the table and sort these things out. That makes common sense and I hope the Minister will recognise that—although, when I was growing up my mother used to say to me, “Son, in life, you will find that sense is not that common”. However, I hope that in this case it will prove to be and that the Government will see the reasonableness of these proposals.

My Lords, I add my support to Amendment 88B and point out that, while it is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, on the Marshalled List, it should have my name attached to it.

Both my noble friend Lady Browning and the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, have presented a cogent case. I am not going to say anything other than it is important that we have properly co-ordinated arrangements for the transition process and the assessment as young people move between children’s and adult services. Certainly, like my noble friend Lady Browning, my experience is that far too often, in far too many cases, it is far from seamless.

I also support the three amendments to which the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, has just spoken on young carers. The separation of adult and children services proves a real structural barrier, in my experience, to supporting young carers. Simply improving guidance and the other methods that have been tried before will not ensure the clear accountability that is needed for supporting the whole family. I know that the Minister has spoken before in Committee about the importance that the Government attach to the family approach—a view that I share—but a recent evaluation carried out by the Children’s Society found that the professionals involved believe that the law must be changed so that there are clearer levers for the provision of care and support in a way that sustains the whole family, and clearer lines of responsibility and accountability for both adult and children services.

We have discussed this both at Second Reading and in Committee. It needs a fully joined-up response and, while I understand and accept the Minister’s argument that most of the heavy lifting, if you like, in this area will be done in the Children and Families Bill, these amendments are needed in the Care Bill to ensure that adults’ needs are met sufficiently so that children and young people are protected from inappropriate caring, and that we have proper joining-up and co-ordination, not simply between services on the ground but between these two important pieces of legislation.

My Lords, the issue of assessment is an important part of the Bill and key issues have been raised which need to be carefully considered by the Government to ensure that the Bill gets these provisions right.

As we know, the Bill extends the right to be assessed for care and support to self-funders and their carers which, in the estimation of major social care charities, will involve nearly 500,000 additional assessments being undertaken by local authorities on top of those for people whose care is provided by them.

We support the extension of entitlement to assessment to self-funders and their carers but we join with noble Lords who are concerned about whether local authorities can possibly carry out this major undertaking in the realities of the current funding crisis and the other duties being placed on them. It is vital that we hear from the Government whether they consider extra resources will need to be made available to support these new duties and whether the noble Earl is confident that the current funding settlement will enable the duties to be performed effectively.

Our Amendments 87J and 88D address the concern that noble Lords and care and support organisations have raised over including in the Bill the requirement—as part of the assessment—to consider whether and to what extent the adult’s or carer’s own capabilities, or any support available from family and friends, could contribute to achieving the outcomes identified in the care plan. It is a very important issue.

Clauses 9(4)(d) and 10(5)(f) were not part of the consultation on the draft Bill, which followed the Law Commission’s advice on making a clear distinction between consideration of care and support needs and how these needs should be met. Support from families and carers should be considered as a way of meeting needs rather than as a reason for deciding the person does not have needs.

The approach in the Bill runs a huge risk of the assessment not recognising the vital contributions of carers and the extent of needs if the carer is unable to provide care. The clauses, as they stand, blur the distinction between an assessment being about what the needs are and the ways of meeting them because they look at how needs can be met other than through the provision of services before any decision about eligibility has been made. They also raise concerns that a carer might be pressured into providing care that they do not feel able to provide—or even that the adult may be pressured into receiving care from a family member. I hope that the Minister will recognise the importance of these two paragraphs being deleted.

Instead our Amendments 92ZZF and 92ZZL propose putting the issue in other parts of the Bill where the vital distinction we are making will be clear. We are seeking to insert new subsections into Clauses 24 and 25 to retain the aim of a capability-based approach being properly considered—in other words one that draws on a person’s own abilities and available social networks. Our amendments would require this process to take place after needs have been defined and not before.

The proposed new subsection refers to the local authority duty to provide information and advice to people not eligible for care and support. It adds to the advice and information requirement to discuss with the person who has been assessed whether they have the individual capabilities or social or community resources that can help them achieve the outcomes they want. Clause 25 deals with the care and support or support plan for people eligible for support, and our amendment again would ensure that the individual’s capabilities and social or community resources are considered at this stage after assessment. This is vital to ensure at least some protection against either the carer or adult needing care being pressured into a caring relationship they do not want, or is inappropriate.

Our Amendments 88P and 88PA deal with the concerns raised under this and in a later group to ensure that assessments are undertaken by persons with expertise, in line with current guidance and practice. Amendment 88P provides for the local authority to be satisfied that the assessment of needs of the adult and carer have been appropriately and proportionately considered by an appropriately skilled or qualified assessor. The intention of Amendment 88PA is to tighten the duty on local authorities to consider preventive support following the determination of eligibility. We want to ensure that local authorities do not use unreasonable justification for refusing to provide or arrange for preventive support and consider what preventive services would or would be likely to benefit an adult.

The current guidance recognises the need for flexibility in certain circumstances on who undertakes the assessment, and this needs to be retained. For example, my local authority is in the last processes of undertaking effectively new assessments of existing clients under the transfer to self-directed support and personal budgets. As noble Lords will know, I am a carer and my partner has long-term health and care needs after suffering a major stroke. Our recent assessment was undertaken by a very competent member of the personalisation team who is not a qualified social worker but a former care assistant, so she fully understood home care support. However, she had access to a qualified social worker care manager for advice to whom we could also refer if we needed. I stress that this was an assessment of a care plan in operation for six years, and under a process that was not originating the plan but viewing it from the personalisation perspective. We both found the new, but demanding process— 44 page forms, as I might have mentioned before—very helpful in giving new perspectives on issues, such as risk when I am not at home or contingency arrangements if I am hospitalised, or fall under the proverbial bus. Most carers just cross their fingers and hope that it would never happen for their own and the cared-for person’s sake, but the assessment experience was a positive opportunity to take stock and a worthwhile experience, which I hope we are still feeling good about when the personal budget allocation comes.

Nevertheless, my point is that the original assessment was conducted by a qualified social worker with full understanding of care requirements for major stroke recoverers, and that assessment has stood the test of time six years on. Had this assessment been a first time assessment, however, it would have been vital to have had a qualified social worker, plus any specialist advice on stroke, if needed. Amendments 88A and 88DA tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, require the local authority to involve the relevant health practitioner in the needs assessment for adults and carers under Clauses 9 and 10. We agree that they should be involved where their specialist skills are needed and that this will help ensure better integration of health and social care, and overall better patient care.

I also support Amendment 88 from my noble friend Lady Wilkins, which provides for the local authority to have the same duty under Clause 9 for adult assessments as is given in Clause 10 for carers’ assessments. This is a logical amendment and I hope the Minister will recognise that.

We have also had three important amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, which have been added to this group and which we support. These reinforce our messages in the debate in Committee last week on young carers—namely that adult assessments need to meet the needs of the adult, so that children are protected from inappropriate caring. The noble Baroness has stressed how important this is and I look forward to the Minister updating us on the developments over the interface between the Care Bill and the Children and Families Bill in respect of young carers and parent carers.

Finally, I would stress how important the assessment process is. The Government’s discussion document on eligibility recognises that they are an integral part of the system. As we have seen, there are many separate aspects related to assessments, and it is a pity that, in this instance, we have had to lump them all into one big debate. I would therefore urge the Minister, even if he does not agree with the very strong case presented by noble Lords for including these matters in the Bill, to undertake to take the issues of concern away and review this part of the Bill so that there can be full confidence in the legislation underpinning this important issue.

My Lords, I thank all those who have contributed to an informed and very interesting debate. The amendments mostly focus on the assessment process, but some also refer to Clause 13 on the eligibility criteria which we will consider later.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, is quite right that assessments will remain an integral part of the reformed care and support system. However, rather than acting primarily as a gateway to the adult receiving care and support, the future system will place more emphasis on supporting people to identify their needs; understand the options available to them; plan for meeting care and support needs, and reduce or delay needs where that is possible.

The amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Low, Amendments 87H and 88PB, rightly point out that intermediate care services, such as reablement, can play a vital role in helping people regain their independence and in preventing avoidable re-admissions. Under this Bill, local authorities would be expected to consider how the provision of reablement and other types of care and support could contribute to the achievement of an individual’s desired outcomes as part of the assessment process. Clause 13(2)(b) makes it clear that, in determining eligibility, local authorities must consider if the person would benefit from preventive services—whether or not they have eligible needs. This would include reablement services.

Amendments 88PA and 88PC, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Low, look to build on the measures in Clause 13(2) about prevention. Amendment 88PC raises the issue of individual entitlements to preventive services, facilities and resources. I hope he would agree that Clause 2 is an important step forward in itself, capturing prevention in primary legislation for the first time. It will require local authorities to provide or arrange prevention services and actively to consider the steps that they should take. The Bill makes clear that prevention is a core part of care and support provision, not an optional extra. This duty is only one part of a broader approach throughout the Bill to preventing, delaying and reducing needs.

One of the aims of the pooled budget, to which the noble Lord, Lord Low, referred, is that local authorities and CCGs should spend it on preventive services. However, individual entitlements should be built around people with ongoing needs for care and support—as they are now. We do not think it is necessary, or would make sense, for there also to be individually enforceable rights to preventive services which would be too broad, and therefore carry a very significant cost burden for local authorities. I took note of the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Low, on that point but, despite these, our view is that any enforceable right in this area would almost unavoidably lead to very high budgetary pressures.

I turn now to Amendments 87J, 88D, 92ZZF and 92ZZL tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler. We heard during consultation that assessment processes should look at what an individual wants to achieve and what they can do, not just at their “deficits” or what they cannot do. Assessments should help the person to identify their needs, strengths, goals and aspirations, and consider what type of proportionate intervention might support them. The purpose of Clause 9(4)(d) is not to suggest that such matters should replace more formal types of care and support. The clear purpose of the duty is to assess an adult’s need for care and support. However, it recognises that in order to make the connections to the variety of support available in the community, the local authority should consider how these matters, along with more formal care and support provision, could be of benefit in achieving the adult’s outcomes.

Amendment 88A, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, spoke so powerfully, raises the question of employment, education and training, and in doing so repeats Clause 10(6). This re-enacts specific existing provision for carers in relation to such issues, which the Law Commission recommended should remain. We recognise that these areas are of equal importance to adults receiving care and support. However, it is not necessary to recreate this provision as local authorities must already consider during the assessment process the adult’s aspirations in relation to work, education, training or recreation when considering the outcomes they wish to achieve.

On Amendment 88B, I agree with the principle of joining up assessments when it is sensible to do so. The provisions in the Care Bill are compatible with those in the Children and Families Bill, and both Bills allow for joint assessment. I am satisfied that the Care Bill includes the legal framework to enable a co-ordinated approach. My noble friend Lady Browning asked how the Children and Families Bill will fit with this Bill in relation to care planning, and particularly in relation to those with autism. The Children and Families Bill will improve co-operation between all the services that support children with special educational needs and their families. This will require local authorities to involve children, young people and parents in reviewing and developing care for those with special educational needs. Local authorities will also need to publish information about what relevant support can be offered locally. The Care Bill and the special educational needs provisions in the Children and Families Bill require that there is co-operation within and between local authorities to ensure that the necessary people co-operate, that the right information and advice are available, and that assessments can be carried out jointly. We are in discussion with the Department for Education about the links between both Bills.

The noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, proposes in her two amendments that assessments must involve health professionals. In our view, this would not be proportionate because not everyone would have health needs or need to involve a health practitioner. The Bill already allows the individual to decide if they wish to involve a health professional, and Clause 12 includes a power to allow authorities to carry out a joint assessment with other bodies such as the NHS.

My noble friend Lady Browning and the noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, made important points about the appropriate training and skills of assessors. Stakeholders have told us of the importance of having appropriately trained assessors. We have therefore extended the powers in Clause 12 and I can reassure both noble Lords that we will make regulations to require local authorities to ensure that assessors are properly trained.

My noble friend Lady Browning asked why we have not specified that a qualified social worker should carry out assessments on people with complex needs. The social care workforce, as she well knows, is a mixture of qualified social workers and care managers who have been trained to carry out tasks such as assessments. It is, we believe, for local authorities to determine the mix of their workforces. Local authorities should also make a professional judgment on who has the appropriate skills and training to carry out assessments, and I really do not think it would be appropriate to do this from the centre.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, raises an important point through Amendments 88SA and 88SB about the eligibility criteria for adults with care and support needs helping to prevent young carers from taking on inappropriate or excessive caring responsibilities that can impact adversely on their lives. The draft regulations make clear that an adult’s needs for care and support will be eligible if, because of mental or physical impairment or illness, they are unable to carry out fully any caring responsibilities for a child, or need support to maintain family relationships. Our policy intention is to encourage local authorities to take a whole-family approach, both in assessing and supporting an adult needing care and support, meaning that an individual adult is not seen in isolation from their family circumstances. That would include having to identify the child.

The noble Baroness made the point that better support for young carers will save money for the taxpayer. We agree that better supporting young carers will improve both their well-being and that of the person they care for and that it is also likely to benefit the public purse. That is why we are working with the Department for Education to ensure that a whole-family approach is taken.

Amendment 92ZZCZA follows the same principle, but seeks to add to the duty to meet eligible needs. As I have set out, we see the appropriate way of dealing with the issue of avoiding inappropriate young caring roles to be through the eligibility criteria. We would not wish to create a new stand-alone duty in this regard, which may have a distorting effect on the duty in Clause 18, but rather to ensure that such matters are reflected in the determination of eligible needs. However, as I indicated in debate last week, we need to ensure that the developmental and educational needs of young people are appropriately considered in the context of children’s legislation and services. We will work with stakeholders, including the National Young Carers Coalition, to ensure that, for their part, adult care and support services make appropriate provision in supporting an adult’s needs for care and support to prevent inappropriate or excessive caring by a child. However, we also need to keep in view what should be provided through children’s services and that is what the Minister for Children and Families has committed to do.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, raised an important point about the impact of the funding reforms. We recognise that people will want to have their care costs counting towards the cap as soon as possible. If this Bill is enacted, people cannot begin accruing costs towards the cap until 1 April 2016. That does not mean that preparation cannot be made locally before that time. We believe that it is appropriate for local authorities to begin assessing people ahead of 1 April 2016. To ensure that local authorities can take advantage of this opportunity, we have provided £335 million to fund the implementation of our reforms. This should enable local authorities to begin assessing people’s needs for care and support around six months before April 2016, if they choose to do so.

I hope that I have reassured the Committee that we are putting in place the support to allow local authorities to manage the implementation of our reforms. We have had a very good debate on assessment and eligibility. I hope that I have reassured all noble Lords who have spoken that the Bill already addresses the concerns that have been raised and that the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, will feel able to withdraw the amendment. I am sorry—it was the noble Lord, Lord Low.

Yes, I was going to say that I think it probably falls to me to consider whether I withdraw the amendment. Before I do so I just want to thank the noble Earl for his full and careful response, and also all those who have spoken in a debate that has ranged quite widely. I have found the noble Earl’s response to the points that I raised very helpful and will consider whether I continue to feel that the Bill needs strengthening in the area of assessment and eligibility in the light of his comments. I listened carefully to what he had to say and feel it will be very helpful in considering how to deal with these issues during later stages of the Bill.

The debate has covered quite a wide range of points. The noble Baronesses, Lady Browning, Lady Meacher and Lady Tyler, spoke particularly of the need for a seamless transition between children’s and adults’ services, and for this Bill to mesh harmoniously with the Children and Families Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, also spoke of the situation of young carers. I am sure that all those who have spoken will find the noble Earl’s remarks helpful in considering whether they wish to return to these issues during later stages of the Bill. For now, I withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 87H withdrawn.

Amendments 87J to 88B not moved.

Clause 9 agreed.

Clause 10: Assessment of a carer’s needs for support

Amendments 88C to 88E not moved.

Clause 10 agreed.

Amendments 88F and 88G not moved.

Clause 11 agreed.

Clause 12: Assessments under sections 9 and 10: further provision

Amendments 88H to 88L not moved.

House resumed.

House adjourned at 10.17 pm.