Poll reveals urgent need for social care reform

March 2, 2021

A major poll of politicians from across the political spectrum carried out by YouGov, on behalf of the Health for Care coalition, reveals the pressing need for widespread social care reform.

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak prepares to set out his budgetary statement on 3rd March 2021, the findings of a survey of nearly 100 MPs and over 500 English councillors, conducted between 25th November and 15th December 2020, highlight the pressing need for a long-term funding strategy and swift transformation in social care.

Nine out of ten MPs say that local government does not have enough resource to meet the growing need for social care services and three in five believe that the social care budget should be raised by £7bn a year over the next two years.

Survey respondents demonstrate strong support for a long-term financial and workforce plan for the sector and for a funding settlement of an additional £7bn a year by 2023- 2024, as recommended by the Health and Social Care Select Committee in October.

Other key findings show:

  • Over three-quarters of MPs believe the budget for social care should be raised. This included almost two thirds who believed that it should be increased by £7 billion a year and almost a quarter who believed the increase should be more than this.
  • A third of Conservative MPs and nearly three-quarters of Conservative councillors believe the social care budget should be raised by £7bn or more to plug the funding gap.
  • Three-quarters of Conservative councillors and almost half of all MPs think that social care should be funded by a new collective funding mechanism.

1.4 million older people are currently estimated to have an unmet need for social care, yet despite this, there have been dramatic falls in spending on social care in England, with figures showing a 12% decrease per person over the decade to 2018/19.

The Health for Care Coalition said it is now imperative that the Government lays out a new plan for social care, which addresses the complex problems it faces including severe underfunding; an overstretched and under-valued workforce; a fragile provider sector; extensive unmet need; a lack of clarity about the cost of care; and a complex system to navigate.

Danny Mortimer, chair of the coalition and chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said, ‘Decades of delay and inertia have left the social care system chronically underfunded and in desperate need of reform. As we slowly and cautiously ease out of the COVID emergency we cannot delay this a moment longer. It is clear that the tragedy of Covid-19 has helped to cement a consensus in both parliament and local government that urgent action is needed to fix social care. There is also clear cross-party support for additional resources for the sector and the need for a long term financial and workforce plan.

Mortimer added, ‘We are now calling on the Government to commit to delivering both significant investment and concrete legislative proposals which give social care the future-facing reform it so badly needs.’

Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at Alzheimer’s Society, said, ‘People with dementia deserve the right to good quality and affordable care - the coronavirus pandemic has exposed just how threadbare and broken our social care system is, at a time when families needed to rely on it most to care for their loved ones. We support the Health for Care Coalition in calling for urgent, comprehensive social care reform. We need a system fit for purpose and free at the point of use, like the NHS and education, providing quality care for every person with dementia who needs it.’

Dr Jonathan Steel, Royal College of Physicians’ lead fellow for social care, said, ‘It is encouraging that the majority of MPs think a long-term financial plan should be one of several priorities for the social care sector. There are many things we need to do to fix social care, but it all needs to be underpinned by a sustainable funding settlement to be effective. The recent White Paper on NHS reform which sets out how new legislation will hopefully enable more integrated care and services is welcome, although the lack of a proper plan for social care was noticeable. We look forward to the government publishing its social care reform proposals later this year. The Chancellor’s Budget needs to deliver a significant funding increase for social care to get people the support they need and create a service we can all be proud of.’

Visit the NHS Confederation website to find out more about the #FixSocialCare campaign.

Care England and NCF have written to the Chancellor urging him to make good on the Government’s commitment to adult social care in his Budget this week.

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