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Paul Burstow: Providing guaranteed respite care

November 17, 2010 8:38 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Health Minister Paul Burstow has written to party members following the announcement that the Coalition Governent is to guarantee respite care by making an extra £400m available to carers.

Read the message to members in full below.

Dear friend,

Social care is essential for most people at some time in their life. It embraces the most intimate care for people, often at times of great distress. It is about helping people and their carers to live independent lives. This isn't happening at the moment. That's why the Coalition Government is moving away from the "business as usual" mentality of the last Labour government to tackle the broken system of how we care for our older and disabled people.

This new Government policy is built on two key reforms that Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for over the last decade.

The first is that people - and not service providers - will have control over their care. By extending the roll out of personal budgets, first proposed by the Liberal Democrats in 2004, we will give individuals the freedom to decide what their money is spent on. By 2013 councils will provide everyone who wants one and is eligible with a personal budget.

The second key reform, that Liberal Democrats have consistently championed, is guaranteed respite care. We believe that this is a lifeline - not just for carers but for whole families. The Coalition Government's vision for social care will deliver on our Party's manifesto commitment to provide guaranteed respite care by making over £400million available in additional funding over the next four years to hundreds of thousands of carers.

Too often in the past money for carers has been diverted into other areas. Unlike the last Labour Government, we'll ensure that the right mechanisms are in place to make sure that this money gets to carers. Under the current system, too many vulnerable people have been left imprisoned in their homes, fearful of moving to be near loved ones, in case they found themselves worse off in a postcode lottery of care.

Our reforms will reverse rules which mean those who receive help from their local council have to be reassessed if they move to another part of the country. People will have the freedom to move home without the fear of having their entitlements taken away from them. The care and support of our older and disabled population is one of the most urgent of all social policy issues we face as a society. That's why the Coalition Government has committed itself to invest £2billion into social care by 2014/15.

Liberal Democrats can be proud that today we have announced a vision for social care that joins up health and social care. It will provide better, more independent lives for older and disabled people - and their carers.

Best wishes,

Paul Burstow MP

Minister of State, Department for Health