Housing and social care to be forced to co-operate
Local authorities are to be required by law to ensure their housing and social care departments work together effectively to meet the needs of vulnerable people.
The draft Care and Support Bill, which was published yesterday, includes a clause stating that authorities must ‘make arrangement for ensuring co-operation’ between various groups, including housing officers, adult social care, and directors of children’s services.
The draft bill was published alongside the government’s care and support white paper. This includes a section on housing that promises £200 million of capital funding over five years from 2013/14 to develop 6,000 homes for older and disabled people.
‘There is still greater clarity needed on how the government plans to fund the social care system in England.’
Grainia Long, chief executive, CIH
The paper also puts pressure on NHS organisations to ensure land they are releasing as part of the government’s wider public land initiative is used for housing. It states the NHS should ‘give particular consideration to developing housing for older and disabled people’.
The move was welcomed by housing association Home Group, which has been pushing for some of the public land released to be set aside for affordable housing.
Chief executive Mark Henderson said: ‘We are not prepared to see this as just a good idea we want to make this happen and we’ll look to meet with the Department of Health to discuss in the near future.’
The white paper also includes plans to allow older people to take out loans from local councils to cover the cost of care. These will be secured against their home, which will be sold when they die, meaning they won’t lose their home during their lifetime.
However the government has postponed decisions on the long-term funding for elderly care until the next spending review, expected in the autumn of 2013/14 or 2014/15.
Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, welcomed the announcements on housing but expressed concern about the lack of a decision on long-term funding.
‘We are really pleased that housing and care authorities now have a duty to work effectively together to meet local needs of people and that £200 million that will be invested in older peoples’ homes,’ she said.
‘However, there is still greater clarity needed on how the government plans to fund the social care system in England.’
The concern was echoed by Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who said the charity is ‘deeply frustrated that more progress has not been made’.
She said the deferred payment plan was ‘sensible, but it is also a sticking plaster’ and urged the government to implement the recommendations of economist Andrew Dilnot’s review of care funding, which was published in July last year.