Disabled campaigners have welcomed the new commission that will examine the funding of adult care and support in England, despite concerns that the government could have already ruled out some methods of funding the system.
Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat care services minister, said the government was “determined to build a funding system that is fair, affordable and sustainable”.
But Andrew Lansley, the Conservative health secretary, warned that the new system would have to be “consistent with the government’s deficit reduction plan”.
And he said the commission would be asked to find “the best way to meet care and support costs as a partnership between individuals and the state”.
Lansley also said the commission’s recommendations would have to be compatible with the government’s personalisation agenda, take into account how the right “housing and related services” can support disabled people, and examine the links between the social care and benefits systems.
Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said she was “concerned” about the use of the term “partnership” because it could imply that the government will not consider funding the care and support system through general taxation, a solution which has widespread support among disabled people and their organisations.
She said: “We will be reiterating again that we think social care should be funded from general taxation. If that funding option is ruled out we would be very unhappy.”
But she welcomed the tight timescale, with the commission told to complete its work by the end of July 2011.
She said: “The crisis is now. We have had these debates ad infinitum. It is time to get on with it.”
Marije Davidson, RADAR’s senior policy and parliamentary officer, called on the commission to ensure that its recommendations were “fully informed by the views and experiences of disabled people”.
She said the current system “leads to inequity across the country”, causes “stress and insecurity to disabled people”, keeps them in poverty and denies them opportunities to participate in their communities.
The commission will be chaired by the economist Andrew Dilnot, who will be joined by two former directors of social services, Dame Jo Williams, the former chief executive of Mencap and now acting chair of the Care Quality Commission, and the Labour peer and former health minister Lord Warner.
There has been some concern that the government failed to appoint a disabled member of the commission, but a Department of Health spokesman said the government was “confident” it had “the right mix of skills and experience to engage effectively with the needs and preferences of people with disabilities”.
He said the government had suggested that the commission should appoint a panel of representatives of older people, working-age disabled people and carers to be “consulted regularly on the commission’s work”.