Sector needs funding and long-term plan

August 4, 2022

The adult social care sector needs immediate funding and a long-term plan, says the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee. The Government needs to come forward with additional funding this year to help the adult social care sector meet immediate pressures, including inflation and unmet care needs, according to the cross-party Committee in a report published today.

Examining the Government’s charging reforms and local government finance, unpaid carers and workforce challenges, the report says the 'message rang clear throughout our inquiry: the adult social care sector does not have enough funding either in the here and now, or in the longer-term'.

The Committee’s report outlines that:

  • On adult social care, the Government currently has nothing more than a vision, with no roadmap, no timetable, no milestones and no measures of success.
  • The Government should come forward with 10-year plans for how it will achieve its vision outlined in the People at the Heart of Care White Paper and for the adult social care workforce.
  • The Government should provide a multi-year funding settlement to give local authorities what they need in terms of their own sustainability and their ability to help shape sustainable local care markets.

Clive Betts, Chair of the LUHC Committee, said, 'As Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said he would fix the crisis in social care once and for all. The Government deserves credit for attempting reform and for acting to try to prevent the unpredictable and catastrophic costs which can be inflicted upon people for their care. However, the Government should be under no illusions that it has come close to rescuing social care and it needs to be open with the public that there is a long way to go.

'Ultimately, whether it relates to immediate cost pressures or on wider structural issues in the sector, the fundamental problem is that there continues to be a large funding gap in adult social care which needs filling. Those who need care, their loved ones, and care workers deserve better.

'The NHS and adult social care provision should not be pit against one another. The two systems are interdependent and each needs to be adequately funded to reduce pressure on the other. Wherever the money comes from — from allocating a higher proportion of levy proceeds to social care, or from central Government grants — the Government urgently needs to allocate more funding to adult social care in the order of several billions each year.'

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said, 'Social care has been facing an uphill battle for some time in terms of sustainable funding, the sector urgently needs financial support and we are pleased that LGA evidence and recommendations has influenced this report.

'To meet current unmet and under-met need within social care funding is urgently needed. Evidence from across the sector shows the current crisis in workforce capacity, waiting times and strained council budgets. The LGA has also been concerned with the impact of the upcoming charging reforms on councils and care providers, and strongly agree that the recommendations of £7bn of further funding for social care and a re-evaluation and regular monitoring of the impact of charging reforms as well top-up funding are both much needed.

'Developing a strategy for the social care workforce, with a requirement of working towards parity with the NHS is something the LGA has long-campaigned for and could be transformative for social care, in both changing perceptions of the critical role of care work and increasing capacity in the workforce. Reducing the reliance on council tax to fund adult social care and publishing a new burdens assessment by the end of the year to determine the level of resource needed by local government deliver the full package of adult social care reforms would also be a positive step for the sector.'

Kari Gerstheimer, Chief Executive Officer of Access Social Care, said, 'Much like the report itself observes, Access Social Care urges that recommendations made regarding the adult social care sector must be designed to benefit the real people behind Westminster figures, namely "those who need care, their loved ones, and care workers". Some of the distressing figures outlined today by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee show little concern for those at the front line of our social care system and a disregard for the very real issues faced by local authorities.

'Those in the sector are all too aware of reporting that the adult social care sector does not have enough short, medium, or long-term funding, and how this results in individuals going without the care necessary to live safe and fulfilled lives. Whilst I recognise the efforts made to attempt reforms, I am in full agreement with the committee statement that: "the Government currently has nothing more than a vision, with no roadmap, no timetable, no milestones, and no measures of success". The sector is in desperate need of more information as to both how reforms will be financed, and in light of a leadership battle fuelled on pledging tax cuts, where this extra £7bn of vital funding will come from.

'Access Social Care is especially concerned about research commissioned by the County Councils Network — which estimates that reforms lead to an additional 200,000 social care assessments, requiring 4,300 and 700 more social workers and financial assessors respectively. My concerns are not lessened by the Government suggestion to explore care home, mixed team, and self-assessments. Particularly given the existent quality issues surrounding current care assessments.

'Real and calculated steps need to be taken to ensure that everyone has access to a fair cost of care. Those of us working in the care sector have repeatedly called on the Government to outline how the revenue from the Health and Social Care levy will be divided to fund charging and sector reforms. Also stressing that money is needed to address the short-term "structural challenges of rising demand, unmet need, and difficulties recruiting and retaining staff". These concerns are only exacerbated by the cost of living crisis and soaring inflation — the consequence being that millions of people are going without the care they so desperately need.

'This report is clear in its indication that unrealistic demands are being put on local authorities, and there needs to be a rebalance of resources so as they are less reliant on raising revenue through council tax. It also highlights that the NHS and adult social care should not be pit against one another — "the two systems are interdependent and each needs to be adequately funded to reduce pressure on the other". Wherever the money comes from it is paramount that the Government produces a plan to allocate more funding to adult social care, to the tune of several billions of pounds per year.'

In other news, research into Alzheimer’s disease entered a crucial phase this week, as clinical trial results were presented at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).

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