There are no ends to the lengths this blog will go to too get the facts. I have involved myself in the above debate because I feel it is something that is long overdue. Last week along with 100,000 others I received the following email from the Secretary Of State for Health. I can tell your impressed, both of you. It is however serious and about time the position was clarified. The options were giving a lot of disabled and older people cause for concern.
"Health Secretary clarifies Government position on disability benefits"
"The Secretary of State for Health has made it clear that Disability Living Allowance for the Under 65s will not be affected by Government plans to create a National Care Service.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Harrogate, Andy Burnham MP said: "I am encouraged by the response to our Big Care Debate and welcome the fact that other political parties are beginning to put their ideas on the table. There are big differences between what we are saying but we are beginning to create what I wanted to see - unstoppable momentum for legislation in the next Parliament.
"But, while the debate is moving quickly, I do want to stress that the door is wide open for discussion. We are still in a consultation period. No decisions have been made on funding options. We are still listening – about funding, about structures, and about how to build a forward-looking system of care.
"One avenue I do want to close down, however, is the debate and controversy over Disability Living Allowance.
"We recognise that this is an important benefit for disabled people, and I can state categorically that we have now ruled out any suggestion that DLA for under-65s will be brought into the new National Care Service.
"This is because, whilst there will be increases in the numbers of disabled people of working age who need care, the majority of the people needing care in the future will be older people.
"However, we do think there may be a case for bringing together elements of some disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance, with social care funding, to create a new care and support system to provide for the needs of older and disabled people.
**"But the important principle is that people receiving any of the relevant benefits at the time of reform would continue to receive an equivalent level of support and protection under a new and better care and support system.**
"And let's not forget, everyone - regardless of wealth or asset base – will benefit from the protection and piece of mind that the National Care Service will provide."
The Government is currently carrying out a consultation – the Big Care Debate - on the new National Care Service, a vision for which was set out in July’s Green Paper Shaping the Future of Care Together. The Big Care Debate continues until 13th November."
On the face of it, it seems that at last a realistic approach to this is being made. The re-assurances contained in the email (para 8 asterisked) are good news and something that the labour party should be trumpeting in its lead up to the next election. There is still a long way to go with this consultation but I hope the positive aspects are continued. Getting the Bill before Parliament before the next election is unlikely I think and I hope it is not one of those vicious cuts the Tories are planning. For me, although very late in Labour’s programme it sets clear water between them and the Tories. Let’s have a lot more of this and start telling the electorate.