Clause 39 - Where a person’s ordinary residence is

Care Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 8:55 am ar 21 Ionawr 2014.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Ceidwadwyr, Romford

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 20—Portability of care—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must prepare a report containing an assessment of what primary or secondary legislation would be required to ensure people in receipt of care and support in the community in the UK receive continuity of such care and support if they change their place of residence, with particular reference to moves between countries of the United Kingdom.

(2) The report under subsection (1) must be laid before each House of Parliament six months after this Bill receives Royal Assent.’.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

I am delighted to be back today, and welcome those attending the Committee who are not hon. Members or their staff, or officers of the Commons. It is nice to see some people here today.

I will speak to our new clause 20, which is about the portability of care packages. The Bill will allow people to take their care packages with them, if and when they move to different parts of the country. That is important because often when someone becomes frail and needs care and support, families start to discuss whether Mum or Dad might be able to move closer, so that they can help to look after them—indeed, sometimes the person needing care and support thinks it might be better to move closer to their loved ones—but the portability of care packages between the nations in the United Kingdom is an issue that has been raised with Opposition Members. New clause 20 would require the Secretary of State to prepare a report on the legislation that would be necessary to make sure that people who receive community care packages are able to take those packages with them when they move between the different nations of the United Kingdom.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East has raised that issue with me, with Ministers and with the Scottish Government. The key point is that although the Bill makes provision for people to take residential care packages with them when they move, say, between England and Scotland, there is no such provision for community or home-based care. As we have said many times before, ensuring that people can stay living independently in their own home is the key challenge for the future. The Bill rightly gives people the ability to take a residential care package with them when they  move, which is a good step forward, but we need to make sure that that applies equally to people who have community-based packages of care and support and are moving between England and the devolved Administrations.

My hon. Friend has taken the issue up because she has a constituent, Mr Neil Kenny, who is paralysed from the chest down and uses a wheelchair, and who previously received funding for his care package from Greenwich council. He wanted to move to be closer to his family, who live near Edinburgh, but Greenwich council indicated that it was unwilling to continue to contribute towards the care package if he moved, and Edinburgh council also said that it was unwilling to contribute. The disagreement took place over four years, from 1996 to 2000, and when Mr Kenny eventually moved to Edinburgh, he had to pay for his own care and incurred a lot of debt. Although Edinburgh council eventually agreed to start paying for his care, Mr Kenny rightly contends that people with disabilities should be as free as anyone else to move from one local authority to another, which he feels is not possible now because of the ambiguity of the law in this area.

The care Minister has helpfully corresponded with my hon. Friend, as have Scottish Ministers, but beyond saying that the care systems are different in each nation, that it is hard to apply rules across borders and that the devolved Administrations are working on all this, we do not seem to have moved much further on from when my hon. Friend first raised the issue. The new clause is designed to give Ministers a positive, but forceful push to set out precisely what needs to change, whether in primary or secondary legislation, to make the transfer of home care packages possible between the nations of the United Kingdom, and oblige them to do so within six months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. The care Minister has said, “We’re looking at this,” but we have seen no more details, so the amendment would ensure that the Government get a bit of a wriggle on and do it. It is important, because this is the United Kingdom—I am sure all hon. Members present believe that. We want to ensure that people can move to be with their families, wherever they are. The amendment is a push to the Government to sort out the problem.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

It is an enormous pleasure to be back again. I thank the shadow Minister for her speech and for her new clause. I completely agree that within the United Kingdom—something that she and I strongly support—it is important that we do what we can to facilitate people moving, in particular to be close to family when care needs develop. I am pleased that the Bill achieves a substantial advance in that direction, but the hon. Lady raises a legitimate issue, so let me try to deal with it.

Given the different legislative frameworks operating in the different territories of the United Kingdom, transfers of care across borders present a complicated set of issues, as I am sure the hon. Lady recognises. The placement of people in residential care has been talked about for two decades, which makes one begin to realise how complicated getting agreement is. What we have achieved with the Bill is a fantastic advance. Officials in my Department have worked closely with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations over the past year to develop and agree the provisions of the Bill. It is important  to be clear about the distinction between, on the one hand, a local authority funding and placing a person in a care home in a different part of the UK and, on the other, situations in which persons receiving care in their own home independently move to a different country, but wish to keep their current care package.

In the case of local authority-funded placements, an individual and the local authority work together to draw up a suitable package of care that includes a move to residential care in a different country of the UK. Schedule 1 puts in place a legislative framework that will make clear the principle that, when such care is arranged, generally the placing local authority will retain responsibility for the individual concerned. It is worth pointing out that we do not expect this situation to arise frequently. We are talking about tens of placements each year, not thousands.

The new clause deals with a different situation, as the shadow Minister explained, in which individuals receiving care in their own home move to a different territory in the UK, but remain in a home of their own after the move. In such a situation, the individuals would normally become ordinarily resident in their new local authority area, and that local authority would therefore be the responsible authority should the individual require services from a local authority.

I am confident that what concerns hon. Members is ensuring that, when the person moves, that person’s care will continue and that there is no break in care arrangements during the move. That is what everyone is rightly concerned about. Given the inherent complexity involved in trying to reconcile four separate legal frameworks, the Government’s approach is to work with devolved Administrations to develop understandings in principle about cross-border continuity of care that achieve the same practical effect as further legislation.

The principles will set out what the local authority for the area where the person currently lives and the authority that he or she is moving to have to do to ensure continuity of care, such as both authorities sharing information and maintaining contact during the process. We absolutely agree with the principle of cross-border continuity of care—it just makes sense to everyone—but the complexity of any further legislation is such that is more effective to develop understandings in principle and practical co-operation between local authorities and those devolved Administrations that achieve the same practical effect as legislation. I hope that hon. Members feel sufficiently reassured that we share their aims and are working to achieve them, and that they will not press the new clause.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

The trouble is, we need a timetable. Can the Minister spell that out? The new clause does not seek to set out all the details here and now—that would be very complicated and would probably be a whole other chunk of the Bill. Instead, it says that there should be a report setting out whether primary or secondary legislation is needed and a timetable for that. I am concerned that we will let the process drag on when it is important that we do it quickly. Do the Government intend to publish any kind of report or policy document on this matter, and if so, when? If I had a commitment on timing and publication of something clear, I would consider not pressing the new clause.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

I take the hon. Lady’s point. I can confirm that we are speaking to the devolved Administrations and looking to have principles in place by November this year. I am happy to commit to writing to her in November to confirm that we have achieved that, as I hope we do, and if we have not, why and what the time scale is likely to be. I hope that helps the hon. Lady.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

That is a very welcome commitment. May I cheekily ask if he would also inform my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East when this happens? She raised this matter with me on behalf of her constituent and has had a bit of a battle getting attention. If the Minister will make sure that this happens and writes to me, then I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Ceidwadwyr, Romford

I am advised that withdrawing the amendment is not procedurally accurate at this point, because it is a new clause.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

Then when we come to vote on all the new clauses, which is what I assume will happen, I am prepared not to press it to the vote.

Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Ceidwadwyr, Romford

I am advised that the clause is not moved.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clauses 40 and 41 agreed to.