The King's Fund welcomes major reform of adult social care system but urges a degree of caution over personalised budgets

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The King's Fund today welcomed the announcement of major reform of the adult social care system by the Health Secretary Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP and five cabinet ministers from other departments. Commenting on the announcement, made today before an audience of health and social care professionals at the King's Fund, its Chief Executive Niall Dickson said:

'For too long adult social care has been lost in the political wilderness - today is another sign that it is moving out of the shadows. The fact that six ministers have signed this agreement and that the most senior Conservative politician in local government has joined them, signing for local government as a whole, is highly significant.

'At the heart of this is the idea that we can hand control to individuals and their families over how their own care is funded and delivered. That will be the difference between the old system and the new. It therefore signals what could become a massive cultural change, driven locally, in the way care is delivered.

'Everyone agrees that the principle of handing over control to individuals and their families is right but it will take time for these changes to take full effect. But a word of caution - the Department of Health is still in the middle of a major study to assess the value of individual budgets which bring together a number of different funding streams and it will be some time before we have sorted out all the mechanisms for making this work. We also need to look carefully at the implications of extending personalised budgets into the health service.'

Niall Dickson added: 'Today's announcement moves us one step closer to a better system of adult social care that is so desperately needed. The other prerequisite is to replace the current funding system, which is neither effective nor fair. The government’s promise of a Green Paper on how we pay for adult social care, and the support of the other main parties for fundamental reform, offers hope that this too will be addressed. Achieving political consensus in this area will be crucial.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.