Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat Minster of State for Health announced last month that the Government will be changing the way social care is to be distributed.
In his radical plans, a much needed change for the better, there will be a stronger focus on a local level of provision-including early support and prevention and this will work towards the long term aim of allowing people to maintain their independence.
It has been revealed by the BBC in recent days that 1/8 young people are carers, often looking after relatives and parents, and these changes to the system will help them in a way the current system failed.
The new plans have been focused on three issues: personalisation, protection and productivity.
On personalisation, the Liberal Democrats (party policy since 2004) believe that services someone requires should be tailored to their needs, and that they and/or their carers shall be the be the best judge of what their requirements shall be. Therefore, we are introducing a wider roll-out of personal budgets. Currently, about 13% of those in need receive them, however by 2013 we hope that up to a million people who need them will have them. The Department of Health have liaised with local authorities who believe this is possible and in the next year up to £800million will be directed into social care, reablement and prevention.
On the issue of protection, by allowing people to manage their own budget the Department of Health is taking on greater risks, however, sensible safeguards will be put in place to reduce the scope for abuse of the system.
The Government also made a commitment to spend £400,000,000 on provide respite care for carers through direct payments (as in our manifesto), which will provide much needed breaks for the unsung heroes in our society.