Ministers debate funding plans for social care

September 3, 2021

The social care sector has today welcomed the news that the Government will make good on its 2019 manifesto promise to ‘fix’ social care.

Social care must be adequately funded, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said, amid reports today that ministers plan to raise national insurance to help fund social care.

Downing Street did not deny reports of an increase of at least 1% to improve social care, according to the BBC, but conversations are said to be ongoing.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF) said, ‘It is vital that any Government proposals provide long-term ambition for people and communities rather than quick fixes. Reform must move beyond the narrow focus on capping costs if we are to have a proper public debate. Social care changes lives: it is a fundamental part of enabling people of all ages to live the lives that they want to lead, it supports unpaid carers to continue to be active parts of their communities, it ensures that health services are used only at the point of acute need. Social care is part of the fabric and functioning of each and every street across the country and matters to us all. We need to be talking about what kind of social care system we want now and in the future.’

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) Chief Executive Kathryn Smith said there is ‘no escaping the fact that current funding levels have led to the growing social care crisis, both for people who draw on services and the workforce’. SCIE is calling on the Government to publish its full proposals for the future of adult social care and added that ‘improvements will only come from a long-term strategy’ and highlighted the need to ‘develop a passionate workforce with the right skills and flexibility’ and reiterated the need for person-centred care to be at the heart of care reform plans.

Simon Bottery, a Senior Fellow in Social Care at The King’s Fund told CMM, ‘It’s encouraging to see consistent media reports that the Government is close to announcing a cap on the lifetimes costs of care and a relaxation of the current, very tight means test. This would be a really positive move towards ‘fixing’ social care. However, the details of these reforms – in particular the level of the cap and point in the mean test at which people will start to receive state help – need to be announced before we can gauge their real impact.

Simon Bottery added, 'There are also questions to be asked about how the money will be raised and whether there will be one fixed pool of money over which the NHS and social care must fight. This would raise concerns about whether social care would ever see the money it needs.  Nor will the rumoured measures in themselves be enough: they are only a first step and the Government will need to set out both its vision for this wider reform and a timetable for introducing the other measures needed to bring it about. Improvement to the terms and condition of the workforce will need to be high on the agenda. This is all likely to take time so in the short term more money is also needed to shore up the current system.’

The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) welcomes the news that the Prime Minister intends to make good on his promise to fix social care. UKHCA is encouraged that the Government expects to bring forward plans for reform and funding of social care next week.

UKHCA's CEO, Dr Jane Townson, said, ‘All of us want to live well at home and flourish in our communities. We want home-based and community support recognised as a vital contributor to promoting well-being and increasing healthy life expectancy.

‘Reform should not be focused solely on avoiding sale of houses to pay for care homes, though this is important for some. We need investment in meeting people's needs and helping us all to live well at home. Key to this is investing in our homecare workforce, ensuring they are well-trained and fairly rewarded for their skill and experience. We also need investment in innovation.’

Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England told CMM, ‘We look forward to receiving the Prime Minister’s plans on health and social care. It has been a very long waiting game and the sector is in desperate need of help. It is essential that health and social care are treated with parity of esteem given they are intertwined.’

The Prime Minister is due to make an announcement next week regarding the future of social care funding.

 

In other news, The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is advising that people with severely weakened immune systems should have a third vaccine dose as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule.


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