Are we at last seeing real movement on the social care crises?
Despite the Chancellors low key reference to tackling the issues facing social care in the last budget, I am beginning to believe that there may be some movement towards coming up with a solution to the crises at last.
We can all forget about the so called ‘Green Paper’ that never saw the light of day. It was an attempt to damp down the criticism of the government at a time when it had such a small majority and pre-occupied with Brexit. It also had suffered from its previous experience of having its fingers burned at past elections, so it had no incentive to introduce new proposals before the last election.
The benefits of a conservative majority
Since then as Boris Johnston is keen to remind us the political scene has changed. The Tories now enjoy a large majority and five years to, as they say it ‘get it done’. Prior to the election the Government give a commitment to solving the problem and they know that the people and the media will be on their backs until they come up with a solution.
A new enquiry
The Government have set up a new enquiry involving the Health and Social Care committee to investigate how much extra money will be needed over each of the next 5 years. They will also examine staffing shortages and possible measures to improve recruitment.
The Chairman of the committee Jeremy Hunt said: this long-standing crisis the Local Government Association comes with a huge cost to families and individuals who can’t get the social care they need.
But it affects us all when a lack of available beds is preventing people leaving hospital, contributing to the increased pressure on the NHS. We will establish an agreed figure that represents the agreed funding that is needed.
Invitation to cross party talks
Last week Health Secretary Mat Hancock sent an invitation to MPs and Peers to initiate talks on social care. In his letter he said we need action now, to seek a solution that can support future generations.
Mr Hancock added he wanted to build a cross party consensus as he asked colleagues for their views on how to progress this crucial agenda. He was less forthcoming on the urgency of the situation when he admitted that structured talks on reform options would not take place until May.
Public organisations and others with relevant expertise are also being asked by the committee to submit evidence by April 14th.
Ian Hudspeth Chairman of the Local Government Association’ community Wellbeing Board said “This enquiry is another important step in building towards a long-term fundraising solution”. Our latest analysis shows adult social care services are facing a funding gap of £4 Billion by 2025”
Tension between the individual paying for care and funding required by the social care industry
There are two central issues that the government will have to deal with. On the one hand the Government has promised to bring in laws that in the future they will ensure that no one would be expected to sell their home to pay for their care. On the other, the cost of a social care funding solution may well impact on both of these issues and result in a less than satisfactory financial solution for social care.
The setting up of a new enquiry involving the Health and Social Care Committee to investigate how much extra money will be needed over each of the next 5 years, is surely a step in the right direction. I still believe any solution to the issues facing social care, will ultimately depend on a cross part consensus. This issue needs to transcend party politics as any solution will need to remain in place over the longer term.
The Labour Party have indicated that they will attend discussions to find a solution to the social care problem after their new party leader has been elected. All in all, it is probably fair to say that at last we are seeing real movement on the social care crises. No doubt time will tell.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy