The Care Act – are you ready?

Olwen Dutton, Bevan Brittan

With two months to go until 1 April 2015 when the Care Act 2014 comes largely into force and with it the impact of the Better Care Fund, are councils ready for the changes that will follow?

Two big things need to be done before then, and of course need to have been through the approvals process within the council in advance where necessary.

The Better Care Fund

  • After all the shouting and changes to the schemes, the pressure is now on to be able to conclude the S75 Legal agreements by 1st April to make provision for the Pooled Fund to receive the Better Care Funding.
  • In addition to the Pooled Fund councils also need to ensure that the commissioning arrangements to support the fund are in place, including making the changes to schemes of delegation and terms of reference for groups established as part of this;
  • where relevant any necessary changes in existing contracts
  • steps in hand for any new contracts to be entered into as soon as possible

We can support you in this, drawing on our experience in working with S75 agreements since their introduction, and working with a number of areas through the DH taskforce to try to resolve the complex issues that the Better Care Fund involves. We can help develop the template agreement we produced for NHS England to help you deliver a legal framework and if necessary workshops and other interventions to support the development of your local plan, and assist you in those sometimes difficult discussions between CCGs and councils.

The Care Act

This significant piece of legislation supported by extensive secondary legislation and 506 pages of statutory guidance which updates and develops the existing social care legislation makes a number of significant changes from April. There are a number of misconceptions around the Act which affect the whole way in which a council delivers its services. It requires local authorities to understand the importance of the overarching well-being principle, the concept of promoting independence and to prepare to implement the core changes around the provision of care and support, and support from that date. Key areas of preparation should include:

  • Training for legal and social care staff on the wellbeing principle and the other duties under the Act
  • Training on the principles of the Act for members and senior management staff
  • Understanding the duties of integration and cooperation.
  • The new duties around Information and advice
  • Safeguarding under the new statutory framework
  • Duties in relation to carers
  • Preparation of revised policies to guide staff in the exercise of new discretions
  • Working with partner organisations to ensure integration of social care with other services
  • Introducing Deferred Payment Agreements and where necessary revising charges
  • Direct payment protocols to reflect the new legislation
  • Understanding a relationship between the Care Act and the Children and Family Act

With our extensive experience of advising local authorities across a wide range of issues we can help you deliver on this for your authority and manage risks from implementation