The sector has responded to the Government's announcement on the long-awaited Green Paper for social care.
First Secretary Damian Green announced that the Government will publish a Green Paper on care and support for older people by Summer 2018. The paper will set out plans for how Government proposes to improve care and support for older people and tackle the challenge of an ageing population.
The Government says that it has already started to engage with independent sector experts on the subject in advance of the Green Paper to ensure it reflects a wide range of views and requirements. Government will work with independent experts, stakeholders and users to shape the long-term reforms that will be proposed. Once published, it will be subject to a full public consultation.
One of the first to respond was Billy Davis, Public Affairs Manager at Hft who highlighted the focus on older people. He Tweeted, 'Government has laid out plans for its long-discussed
#GreenPaper on #SocialCare. Concerning that both Green & Hunt refer to the sector purely in terms of Older People – #LearningDisabilities is ⅓ of total adult social care spend in England!'
Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive of Sense, called it a 'snub of disabled people' saying, 'Despite our repeated warnings that a sustainable solution to the social care crisis will only be found by taking into account the needs of all those who access services, the Government has continued its snub of disabled people by announcing that it will not focus its long-awaited social care Green Paper on people of working age, but will include this in a secondary work stream...If the Government’s priority is to provide a high-quality and sustainable social care system, which is able to meet the needs of all those who need it, then it must position the needs of working age disabled community at the heart of its planning, alongside those of older people.'
Carers UK highlighted that carers were also missing from the announcement. Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, 'The enormous contribution of the 6.5 million people that care unpaid across the UK was absent as the Government set out its process for reforms to social care funding today. Carers will feel that their contribution has been ignored...engagement with carers is missing from the communication on plans set out today by the First Secretary.'
Margaret Willcox, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), welcomed the Green Paper for social care announcement, 'We are pleased that Government has committed to publishing the long-awaited Green Paper on social care next summer, that it will be subject to public consultation, and that independent experts and sector stakeholders will be involved in helping to develop it for the benefit of older and disabled people.
'Adult social care helps improve people’s health and wellbeing, as well as their independence, choice and control so they can lead as fulfilling lives as possible. It is right that all members of society, many of whom are likely to need some form of care in their lives, will have a say on the future funding of care and delivery of care services.
'We are also encouraged that the Government will undertake a parallel programme of work focusing on issues for working-age adults, as financial pressures due to the increasing care needs of younger adults with disabilities or mental health problems are now greater than those due to supporting older people, which our Budget survey highlighted this year.
'This Paper presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform adult social care for everyone who needs it and to address the issue of funding after 2020 when the extra £2 billion for social care runs out.
'Adult social care cannot continue without sufficient and sustainable resources. The sooner long-term, sustainable funding reforms are established to address the perilous state of adult social care – including overspent council budgets, care providers closing, contracts being handed back to councils and an increase in quality challenges – the sooner the sector can help provide reliable, personal and dignified care to the increasing number of people of all ages who need and deserve it.'
With mixed reaction to the announcement, it is now time for the sector to ensure its voices are heard to shape the Green Paper and also inform the secondary work that is expected to be undertaken into social care for people of working age. A full list of experts that the Government is engaging with is on the Department of Health's website, however, at present none of the care associations are included.