The government has begun a listening exercise on the future of adult social care, but has been warned that the consequences of failing to reform the system could see thousands of people with learning disabilities not receive the care they need. 'Caring for Our Future' will run until December 2.

The government is seeking the views of service users, carers, local councils, care providers and the voluntary sector on what the government needs to focus on to improve the care system. The exercise follows on from the report of the Commission on Funding of Care and Support - also known as the Dilnot report - in the summer. The report advocated that those who enter adulthood with an existing care and support need should be eligible for free state support, care assessments should be portable between local authority areas and eligibility criteria should be standardised nationally. The results of this exercise will be taken into account in the government's forthcoming white paper on adult social care, which is planned for spring 2012.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: "I know the current care system needs to change. People tell me that it is unfair, confusing and unpopular, which is why we need to act and ensure the system is sustainable for the long-term. "I want to see high-quality care that gives people choice in how their needs and ambitions are met, and helps them to live independent, active and healthy lives."

But Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive, had a warning for the government if it fails to implement reform: "The consultation into the funding of long-term care and support is crucial if thousands of people with a learning disability are to have the help they will need in the years ahead. "With an expected increase in the numbers of people with a learning disability requiring care in the future, it is vital that they are treated fairly and plans are put in place now. Failure to reform risks thousands of people with a learning disability not getting the care they need or having ability to fund it, and risks more carers reaching breaking point. "Mencap is pleased that the government has put reform on the agenda and hopes to see other factors taken into account, such as a cap on care costs and the introduction of a national system of eligibility and assessment."

For more information and details of how to get involved in 'Caring for Our Future', click here To read my blog on this, click here.