A new bill that would put right “one of the most fundamental wrongs in the social care system” has been introduced by a disabled peer.
Baroness [Jane] Campbell’s social care portability bill received its first reading in the House of Lords this week.
Her private members’ bill would provide continuity of support for disabled people who choose to relocate to another local authority area in England or Wales.
The bill would place duties on councils to work together to ensure disabled people have equivalent care and support in place when they arrive at their new home, rather than having to renegotiate their package from scratch.
Baroness Campbell said: “We all have a human right to move home around the country, to be close to family and friends or a job, university and so on.
“Or so I thought, until I tried to move 22 years ago. It was then I found out that thousands of disabled and older people who receive social care support do not enjoy this same right.”
She said her bill would put right this “fundamental wrong”.
The government has signalled that it wants to see greater “portability of assessment” – which it again confirmed this week – but this would only ensure that disabled people do not need to be reassessed when they relocate and not that they would secure the same level of support in their new home.
Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said the need for portability was “a fundamental point of principle”.
She said: “It is really time this was corrected. I challenge the government not to support this.”
But she said she was concerned that the bill’s principles could clash with the government’s push for “localism” – more decisions taken at local level – even though they fit in well with David Cameron’s “Big Society” agenda and his party’s call for people to support each other in their communities.
Bott said the new bill would help disabled people take up job opportunities, and make it easier for older people to move closer to their families, reducing the money councils need to spend on support.
RADAR, which has supported Baroness Campbell with her bill, also welcomed its publication.
Liz Sayce, RADAR’s chief executive, said: “Making portability rights a reality would enable disabled people to pursue work or education opportunities, or allow them to live nearer family and friends for greater security and support.”
In her review of disability employment support for the government, published earlier this month, Sayce said the lack of portable social care was a key barrier to employment for disabled people.