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Care Act 2014 and Children and Families Act 2014 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2015

Volume 760: debated on Thursday 19 March 2015

Motion to Consider

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Care Act 2014 and Children and Families Act 2014 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2015.

Relevant document: 25th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (Special attention drawn to the instrument)

My Lords, this order, while detailed, has a simple overarching purpose: to make amendments to primary legislation in relation to England consequent to new laws already passed by Parliament, primarily the Care Act 2014, but also to a small extent the Children and Families Act 2014, as I shall explain.

Part 1 of the Care Act 2014 is a crucial step in delivering the commitments in the Government’s White Paper Caring for Our Future: Reforming Care and Support. It takes forward the recommendations of the Law Commission to consolidate 60 years of fragmented law into a single statute, refocusing the law around the person, not the service.

The order before us today is part of the final step in this process, disapplying current legislation for England which is to be replaced by the Care Act, and changing references to that legislation in other Acts to reflect the Care Act. For example, many of the core entitlements to social care services included in the National Assistance Act 1948 are disapplied for England by this order because they are to be replaced by the overarching duty and power to meet care and support needs included in Sections 18 and 19 of the Care Act 2014.

The Department of Health and the Department for Education have worked together to ensure that carer provisions have been extended in key areas. Part 1 of the Care Act introduces improved rights for adult carers caring for adults, including to assessment and support. Sections 96 and 97 of the Children and Families Act 2014 amend the Children Act 1989 to introduce significant new rights for young carers and parent carers respectively. These new provisions will work alongside those in the Care Act 2014 for assessing adults to enable services to co-ordinate their approaches to assessment and support for young carers and the people they care for.

This consequential order therefore makes some amendments which are in consequence of the new provisions introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014. Because the previous legislation relating to carers is being replaced by a combination of provisions in these two Acts, it makes sense to deal with the necessary consequential amendments in a single order.

The order also includes some savings provisions which are necessary for the purposes of transition from the old system to the new one. Essentially the amendments in the Schedule to the primary order “turn off” the old law in England but, in respect of those currently in receipt of services, the order enables services to continue under the old law until those people move over to the new system. These savings provisions will work with separate transitional provisions, to be made by another instrument, and will ensure a smooth transition for those currently in receipt of services under the present law.

Lastly, I briefly outline how this order fits into the broader context of statutory instruments under the Care Act. Subject to parliamentary approval of this order, we will, as I have mentioned, be making a further transitional order that will complete the temporary legislative framework for local authorities and partners to move from old legislation to the Care Act. Also subject to approval of this order, we will make a commencement order to formally commence the relevant provisions in the Care Act from 1 April 2015.

We have also laid before Parliament the Care Act 2014 (Consequential Amendments) (Secondary Legislation) Order, which makes similar amendments to secondary legislation as the order before us makes to primary legislation. This is subject to the negative procedure.

I hope that this standard exercise of ensuring legislative coherence will not prove controversial, so I commend this statutory instrument to the Committee.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comprehensive introduction to the order. As we have heard, it is part of the final steps of implementing the Care Act and related aspects of the Children and Families Act in respect of transition for disabled children into adulthood and on parent and young carers. Contrary to previous form on such Care Act SIs, I do not intend to raise many issues. The SI is very much a technical instrument, potentially complex and involved. However, read in connection with the 2014 statutory guidance to local authorities on implementation and transition to ensure that current services can continue under the old law until the new legal framework applies, it becomes clearer and more intelligible, even to non-lawyers such as myself.

The key imperative, which we strongly support, is for local authorities to be able to manage the transition for existing people receiving care and support services and carers before 1 April 2015 in a practical, case-by-case way. Assessments, care plans and funding arrangements and services agreed under the previous legislation continue unless circumstances have changed, and in accordance with the established review procedures to ensure that arrangements comply with the new Acts.

The Minister knows that we share local authorities’ continuing concerns over capacity and resource issues to ensure effective implementation, and I would be grateful if he could update the House on the latest stock-take survey of local authorities’ readiness and their continuing areas of concern. I understand that the joint LGA/Department of Health/ADASS programme office will continue to monitor and evaluate implementation, as well as co-ordinating the consultation on phase 2 of the Care Act implementation on the care costs cap. I hope that regular updates and information on implementation can be provided over the critical April/May period, and I would be grateful for the Minister’s reassurance on that—even if only up until 7 May.

As the Minister said, the separate transitional order setting out the detail of the circumstances in which the new order is to apply is to follow shortly, so this is especially important. The Department of Health has undertaken to circulate the draft next week via its local authority and other networks before it is formally issued, to confirm the approach for both phase 1 and phase 2 of the Care Act implementation so that it can address some of the recent detailed queries and concerns from local authorities. That is to be welcomed, as I am sure that we all agree that the local authorities need all the help and support that they can get on what is a huge and complex implementation programme.

The department has also undertaken to share the draft with us, and I am grateful for that. However, publishing the final transitional order so close to the date on which the Care Act comes into force will cause considerable difficulties to local authorities. The Minister will know that the order cannot be published until after this SI has been passed in the other place, which will take place next Wednesday. Even if it is published immediately after Commons agreement, that is exactly a week before the changes begin to be implemented and there will be no real opportunity for parliamentary comeback on such a detailed and important implementation document. I recognise that much of the order content will have already been discussed with and communicated to local authorities, but receiving the final authorisation so late in the day presents even greater implementation challenges than already faced. What steps are the Government taking to mitigate that very difficult position?

Two other key issues arise from the statutory instrument. The first is that it formally sets out the position in respect of Wales concerning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 in relation to adult social care law and to children. The enforcement date of that is currently intended to be 1 April 2016, but that is rightly up to Welsh Ministers. The SI provisions underline that any provisions disapplied in England to make way for the Care Act and the Children and Families Act continue to apply in Wales until such time as Wales brings in the Welsh Act. The Explanatory Note has reassured us that full consultation has taken place with the devolved Administrations in both Wales and Scotland. It also underlines that the order does not contain any provision which changes the current law as it applies to Scotland or Wales, and we welcome those assurances.

The second issue in the SI is in the detail of the Schedule setting out the consequential amendments to existing legislation on the provision of care and support to carers in England resulting from the implementation of the Care Act and the Children and Families Act. That has obviously been a major exercise in cross-government departmental working, and we fully recognise the scale and extent of the task that the department has had to undertake. It is to be congratulated on this work. It is also timely to remind ourselves of the pioneering work described in the Law Commission’s 2008 report, which set out the agenda for the reform of social care law. We have always strongly supported the need to update, consolidate and modernise social care legislation and the key principles of the Care Act, and have been committed to working closely with Members from across the House to ensure improvements and amendments to the Act.

Can the Minister update the Committee on the issue arising from the recent report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments in respect of the drafting of paragraph 95 of the Schedule? The committee has said that the amendments to the Personal Care at Home Act 2010 made by this paragraph are not comprehensive and that consequential amendments are needed. This is an important issue and the department has undertaken to remedy this omission, so will the Minister ensure that the amendments are communicated to all interested parties and organisations as soon as possible?

I am grateful to the noble Baroness. She asked about the local authority stock take. The results of the recent stock take in relation to implementation of the Care Act for January and February reported a positive picture overall regarding local authority preparedness. Specifically, the stock take’s headline findings reported that 99% of councils say that they are very or fairly confident that they will be able to deliver the Care Act reforms from April 2015, compared to 97% of councils in stock take 2 and 90% in stock take 1. Of the four authorities which reported low confidence in stock take 2, three are now fairly confident and one is very confident; one authority has gone from fairly to not very confident.

Seventy-five per cent of councils say that they are on track in 2015-16 in their preparations for the Care Act, the remainder being slightly behind. Confidence has increased on six out of 10 proxy measures from stock take 2 to stock take 3. The exceptions are self-funders, carers’ assessment costs and information, advice and advocacy.

We have already invested more than £5 million in developing a suite of support materials, learning modules and other tools to help councils implement the Act. This is in addition to £23 million of investment in regional and local support that we have provided this year.

The noble Baroness referred to the transition order and regretted the fact that, in her view, it had been published rather late in the day. We set out the approach to transition in the statutory guidance published last October. The joint implementation programme of the Department of Health, the Local Government Association and ADASS has supported transition conversations with local authorities since that time. We do not think that anything in the transition order will have come as a surprise to local authorities.

The noble Baroness referred to the JCSI report, which pointed out that a particular consequential amendment had been omitted from the order. We accept that paragraph 95 of the Schedule to the 2015 order should have amended Section 1(2) to (5) of the Personal Care at Home Act 2010. Failure to do so was an oversight. Those subsections make some prospective amendments to Section 15 of the Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc.) Act 2003. The issue here, however, is that the 2010 Act is not yet in force and there are currently no plans to commence it. The department will ensure that if the provisions of the 2010 Act are commenced, the necessary consequential amendments to Section 1(2) to (5) will be made in the same order using the consequential amendment powers in the Care Act 2014. In summary, while we regret the missed amendment, the omission has no practical effect, and we will have ample opportunity to correct it if the relevant legislation is ever commenced.

Motion agreed.