Paul Burstow writes: The Care Act shows the difference Lib Dems can make in government

April 1, 2015 6:53 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Knowing that you will receive the best care possible means the world to everyone who finds themselves or their loved ones in need of social care.

That is why I made it my first priority as Care Minister, and together with Norman Lamb - our current Care Minister - and other Lib Dem colleagues we have worked hard to reform our badly out of date care system.

Today, that work reaches a major milestone with the Care Act coming into effect. As the independent health charity the Kings Fund put it, "the coalition has made more progress [on care] in five years than the previous government did in thirteen".

The Care Act creates new rights and protections for people who need care and new rights for the friends and family who selflessly care for them. It puts in place for the first time a national rules to determine when a person is eligible for care ending the unfair postcode lottery that existed in the past.

This means that people with the same level of care needs will now be treated in the same way wherever they live. It also puts people's wellbeing at the heart of all care decisions, and creates new responsibilities for local authorities to make sure that support is available to stop people developing care needs in the first place.

Just as importantly, the Care Act finally ends the devastating unfairness that meant the most in need could be left facing catastrophic care costs.

As Care Minister I asked the respected economist Sir Andrew Dilnott to chair a commission on this difficult issue within 8 weeks of forming a government, and when the commission reported I worked with Lib Dem colleagues to challenge Osborne's intransigence and secured the money to fund it.

Thanks to our efforts there will now be a cap on the lifetime costs of care, giving people certainty and the ability to plan for their needs.

As the Kings Fund put it "To make any headway at all on an issue that has eluded all previous attempts at reform - and in the toughest fiscal climate in living memory - is a big achievement."

The Care Act shows the difference Lib Dems can make in government, working together to build a fairer society for everyone.