Care Act is needed to avoid a social care ‘crash’: Northamptonshire County Council leader

Budget press conference at The County Hall.'Names l-r:  Jim Harker. ENGNNL00120131012160619
Budget press conference at The County Hall.'Names l-r: Jim Harker. ENGNNL00120131012160619

Failure to change the social care system could lead the whole system to ‘crash’ in the next decade, the leader of Northamptonshire County Council is expected to announce to the authority tomorrow.

The Care Act will come into effect in Northamptonshire from April, placing larger financial burden on local authorities to support those who need care - as well as those who regularly look after elderly or disabled loved ones.

The new laws will scrap rules that see people with assets of more than £23,250 forced to pay for their own care costs, increasing that threshold to £118,000.

A £72,000 cap will be set on the total amount an individual has to pay for care in a lifetime and, for the first time, local authorities must enable people to access independent financial advice and information to steer them through the complexities of funding.

Despite fears the county council will struggle to afford implementing the act, leader of the authority Councillor Jim Harker (Con,ISE) is to say in his in a monthly report to be unveiled at the full council tomorrow that it is “probably the single most important piece of health legislation since the National Health Service Act of 1946”.

Councillor Harker report adds: “We know that the implementation of this Act will put local Authorities under more financial pressure in the short term, but failure to change now would ensure that our Adult Social Care system would quite probably crash in the next decade.”

The measures in the Care Act will be phased in over two years.

From April 2015, the council will have to begin carrying out new standardised assessments on who is eligible for care funding based on physical and mental capabilities.

It will also need to launch a deferred payment scheme, where people can delay payment of care fees, with the money and interest repaid to the local authority after their death or when the house is sold.

Tomorrow’s full council meeting is to start at 10.30am at County Hall.