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UK government publishes white paper on care

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Following a consultation process which included the views from over 68,000 people (members of the public, carers and representative organisations), the UK Health Secretary, Andy Burnham presented the government’s plans for a National Care Service in England in the white paper “Building the national care service”. He called it the “biggest change to the welfare state since 1948”. He explained that “'We’re not replacing the millions of carers or families who look after each other. They are the underlying principle of the National Care Service and we will better support them… there will be 1.7 million more people needing care in the next 20 years – we must radically overhaul the way care is paid for and provided.”

Highlighting the challenge of planning for future care Mr Burnham said, “No one has any way of knowing how much care and support they may need in the future. A 65-year-old can expect to need care costing on average £30,000 during retirement. However, some people, for example people with severe dementia, could end up needing care costing as much as £200,000”.

The proposal for the new system has three stages:

Stage One

  • Build on the best of the current system through reforms that are already underway and deliver the Personal Care at Home Bill.

Stage Two

  • From 2014 extend the coverage of free care so that people will receive free care if they need to stay in residential care for more than two years.
  • Set up a commission to support consensus and advise the Government on the fairest and most sustainable way that people can make their contribution to a care system which is free when they need it.
  • Set up a National Care Service Leadership Group of expert stakeholders who will advise Government on the implementation of the National Care Service, focussing on the systems and business processes that need to be put in place to make the National Care Service a reality.
  • Introduce a National Care Service Bill to set the legal foundations of the National Care Service.
  • Enshrine in law for the first time nationally consistent eligibility criteria for social care helping to remove the postcode lottery of care that exists now.
  • Push forward with the prevention agenda and continue the drive towards personal budgets so that by 2012 everyone who would benefit from a personal budget will have one.
  • Ensure accurate, relevant and accessible information about what people are entitled to, how the assessment process works and how to access care services is provided to everyone.
  • We want to improve the gateway for accessing social care and disability benefits to make simpler and easier for people.
  • Introduce a quality framework including a body to drive up quality in social care.

Stage Three

  • The introduction of a comprehensive National Care Service that is free when they need it for all adults with an eligible care need, funded by contributions.
  • The founding principles of the National Care Service were said to:
  • Be universal – supporting all adults with care and support needs within a framework of national entitlements.
  • Be free at the point of use – based on need, rather than the ability to pay.
  • Work in partnership – with all the different organisations and people who support individuals with care and support needs day-to-day.
  • Ensure choice and control – treating everyone with respect and dignity, ,putting people in charge of their lives.
  • Support family, carers and community life – recognising the vital contribution families, carers and communities play in enabling people to realise their potential.
  • Be accessible – easy to understand, helping people make the right choices.

For further information please see the Department of Health website at:

and the press release at: