This week Emma pressed the government on proposed plans to devolve responsibility of Attendance Allowance to local authorities which risks a postcode lottery when it comes to social care for the elderly and their carers.
Attendance Allowance is a social care benefit paid to over 1 million elderly people over the age of 65. The benefit provides a lifeline in helping people retain their independence and remain in their own homes for longer. However, under proposals there is a concern that the £5 billion fund may not be ring-fenced, resulting in a cap in the benefit.
Many organisations have voiced concerns about these proposals. Carers UK have expressed grave concern about the way this could affect support received by older people and their carer’s, and the inequality that could result in care services provided by different local authorities.
Currently, Attendance Allowance is a national entitlement. This means that demand for Attendance Allowance is matched by funding.
Under the new proposals, local authorities could have a fixed budget and local responsibility for funding the demand – which we know is growing with our increasingly ageing population.
This will lead to a postcode lottery of care and makes no provision for different levels of need in different local authorities.
Emma has been consistent in raising this issue in parliament. In February last year, Emma challenged the government over their changes to Attendance Allowance and asked for an assurance that funding would remain the same were the benefit to be transferred to local councils.
Early in 2016, the Minister could not provide any answers and nearly a year on, the government are still unable to.
Speaking afterwards, Emma said,
The Secretary of State ought to be ashamed that a year down the line, his Government still has no answers and is prepared to let some of the most vulnerable people in society, including the elderly and those who are disabled, hanging in the balance and in great distress wondering if they are going to receive the dignified care and independence they need to be supported in their own home.
You can read Emma’s Question and the Secretary of State’s response here.