Care Bill: 'independent financial advice' is a must

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Local authorities must provide care funders with information regarding access to independent financial advice, the Care Bill has stipulated, published in Parliament today.

The clause in part four of the Bill states: "The service must provide information and advice on the following matters in particular - ... (d) how to access independent financial advice on matters likely to be relevant to adults who have needs for care and support or are making plans for meeting needs for care and support that might arise..."

The inclusion of the clause follows on from Joint Committee recommendations in March that the Bill should specify the need for referrals to regulated financial advisers.

The Care Bill was published in Parliament today and awaits its second reading in the House of Commons on 21 May.

Jim Boyd, director of corporate affairs at Partnership, said it was "absolutely wonderful news" that financial advice had been stipulated in the Bill.

But he added: "We are excited it is now mentioned in the Bill but we now want to know what independent means. Post RDR independent means something specific regarding qualifications and high quality financial advice. If that is what it means we are very pleased.

"If it means any less than that it is a matter of concern for us. I have no doubt that as it goes through then the House of Lords and House of Commons will see the importance of "regulated" too.

"This whole area requires the highest standards of financial advice. We are dealing with the highest sums of money that impact significantly on families. We have got financial advice in the Bill but we need confirmation on what independent means and we are now working on that."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Reforms to NHS care will go hand in hand with our epic changes to care legislation that will mean, for the first time, people will not have to fear losing their homes in their lifetime to pay care home fees and everyone with a care plan will be able to have a personal budget to choose how they are cared for.

"Importantly, if someone receives care in the south but wants to move to the north to be closer to their family, they will be able to do so without fear of losing their care."

Care Services Minister Norman Lamb said the reforms aimed to ensure those needing care would not be "saddled with catastrophic costs".

The publication of the Bill comes two days after the Queen's speech that stated the long-term care reform legislation should ensure the elderly did not have to sell their homes to meet care bill costs.

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