New benefits role for LA’s…. and HB staff?

Ministers plan to give local councils responsibility for a £5bn benefit paid to older people who need help with daily living in one of the biggest shifts of resources within the welfare state for 25 years.

The move, expected to be signalled as early as Thursday, when councils in England get news of their grant allocation for next year, has also raised fears that the benefit – called attendance allowance (AA) – could be restricted or capped.

At present, AA is paid to 1.5 million people aged 65 or over in the UK, regardless of their personal means. It is seen as a vital support for hundreds of thousands who live independently but might otherwise need to go into residential care.

The benefit is paid at two rates, a basic £55.10 a week or a higher £82.30 for people who need help day and night, and there are no restrictions on how it may be spent.

The plan to switch the £5bn benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions to local government will be presented as a simplification of the system of support for older people.