Independent Living & The Care Bill 2013 – help make this Bill better for disabled people
The Care Bill going through Parliament this January 2014 will shape social care for years to come yet the Bill currently does not include any mention of independent living and fails to address key concerns like independent advocacy and funding of social care.
The Care Bill is being discussed by MPs from 9 January till early February, during this time changes can be made to the Bill to improve it. We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in contact with your MP to ask them put forward amendments to the Care Bill to ensure independent living is at the heart of this important piece of legislation and also encourage your service users and members to contact their MPs as well.
We have received some great news – Liz Kendall, the Shadow Care Minister has put forward important changes to the Bill suggested by Inclusion London and supported by DPAC regarding choice and independent living, for discussion by the Care Bill’s Scrutiny Committee! Pressure from your MP now will help these amendments to be accepted in the House of Commons.
Detailed below is all the information you need to lobby your MP. It won’t take that long and your input could make all the difference.
How to lobby your MP
- 1. Email or write to your MP.
Find out who is your local MP at: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
Their contact details are available at: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Send the attached letter to your MP, feel free to change the letter to reflect your / their circumstances.
Service users / members can tweet about any responses to their letters or meetings, which will keep interest in the Care Bill alive. Use your own twitter account or email your tweet to email@example.com who will tweet it for you.
- Attend your MP’s surgery or ask for a home visit.
Information about your MP’s surgeries times and venues is available at:http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/London_MP_Surgeries
Home visits: If you are not able to attend your MP’s surgery because of your impairment you should ask for a home visit.
- DDPOs you can organise a meeting between your MP and your members and users about the Care Bill.
For information on how to contact your MP go to: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in touch with your MP. This is a vitally important piece of legislation that will have a huge impact on disabled people’s lives now and in the future. We can make this Bill better.
Many thanks to Inclusion London for putting together this campaign pack for people to use. Further information on the Care Bill is available to read at http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/
Template Letter for individuals
Dear Add the name of your MP,
I am writing to you regarding the Care Bill which is in currently being discussed by MPs.
The Care Bill has been described as a once in a life time opportunity to tackle the social care crisis which is impacting on my life. I am asking for your support to propose the amendments to the Care Bill below, to ensure that I am given the support I need for my independent living.
Independent living for disabled people
As a disabled person I have the right to the same opportunities, choices and rights as other citizens. I want to get a job, build a career and have an education and to take part in community and public life. I wish to decide when I go bed, what I eat and to live in my home with people I choose to live with, I also want to be able to leave my home to go out and about – go shopping, go to see a band. I would like the opportunity to be a parent and friend, have a family and social life. All these elements are included in independent living for disabled people. Independent living is being able to contribute, participate and be included.
Social care is in crisis resulting in more and more disabled people going without the essential support they need. This situation is likely to continue because the Care Bill does not tackle the fundamental issue of funding for social care. I have not got large savings and do not own my house, so I will not benefit from the Government’s funding reforms. I would like care and support to be funded so it supports me to lead an independent life of participation, inclusion, dignity and equality. To achieve this I believe it should be funded out of National Insurance contributions/general taxation and free at the point of need like the NHS, this would ensure I get the care I need for independent living in the future.
Amendments to Care Bill
I would be grateful if you could put forward the amendments below to the Scrutiny Committee or to the House of Commons when the Bill reaches Report stage, to try and ensure that independent living for disabled people becomes a reality. All the amendments are highlighted in bold:
1. Amendment to: Clause 1 ‘Promoting individual well-being’
Can you please propose the following amendments to the definition of ‘well-being’ and to the General responsibilities of local authorities:
1 Promoting individual well-being and independent living
(1) The general duty of a local authority, in exercising a function under this Part in the case of an individual, is to promote that individual’s well-being, independence and inclusion as equal and valued citizens and members of the community.
(a) That duties under independent living promote the wider definition of independent living as expressed in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
(See Inclusion London’ paper attached for all the amendments to this clause).
It is very important that disabled people are provided with independent advocacy right through the process of obtaining and maintaining care and support.
It is important because independent advocacy enables disabled people to participate in the assessment and review process but also enable disabled people to give direct feedback about the quality of services, which will help prevent on-going abuse of disabled people in the future. Therefore we ask you to put forward the following amendments to three clauses, (see wording in bold)
Clause 5.Promoting diversity and quality in provision of service:
A local authority must have regard to —
(c) the need to offer and provide an independent advocate to enable service user feedback to improve the quality of services
Clause 9. Assessment of adults need for care and support:
A local authority, in carrying out a needs assessment, has
(d) A duty to offer and provide an independent advocate to the adult to enable full participation in all needs assessments and reviews
Clause 42. Enquiry by local authority:
(2)The local authority must-
(a) Offer and provide an independent advocate to an adult who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect to enable them to give evidence and participate fully in the enquiry.
3. Amendment to Clause 9 ‘Assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support’
The assessment is the key gateway to care and support so it is important that disabled people, who are expert in their own needs, should be at the core of the assessment process. Can you please propose the following that:
- All care assessments reflect the rights to independent living and choice encompassed in the UNCRDP. Also that all care and support assessments should be a person centred process.
4. Amendment to Clause 13 ‘The eligibility criteria’
The government has announced that the national eligibility threshold is to be set at ‘Substantial’. This means support will only be provided at a very late stage when disabled people’s health, wellbeing and independence has deteriorated badly. Can you please propose an amendment so that:
- The eligibility threshold for care is set at ‘moderate’ to ensure that disabled people are able to receive the support needed to maintain and sustain health, wellbeing and independence
5. Independent Living Fund (no existing clause)
The impact on the independent living of disabled people with high support needs if the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes in 2015 will be devastating. I would be grateful if you can propose a new clause to ensure there is:
- A duty on local authorities to provide equivalent support as provided by the ILF that ensures independent living in the community on an on-going basis.
- Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the Independent Living Fund in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision.
5. Amendment to ‘Continuity of care and support when an adult moves’ – Clause 37 ‘Notification, assessment etc’
I believe I should have the same freedom to move home as non-disabled people i.e. without the fear that my care package will be removed or reduced. I urge you to propose and amendment so there is a duty to:
- Ensure the new care package provided by the receiving authority must be equivalent to the existing care package, provided by the first authority.
Together these amendments will help make the Care Bill better for disabled people and help make independent living a reality for me and other disabled people.
Can you please let me know what action you will take and what amendments you will be proposing and supporting.