Social care funding: time to end a national scandal
The need for action
To avoid further delay, the Government should produce a White Paper, not a Green Paper, with clear and plausible proposals for sustainable adult social care funding. (Paragraph 21) Funding for adult social care.
Pressure on families
As a result of the Governments funding policy fewer individuals have been able to access local authority funding, and greater pressure has fallen on the family and friends to provide unpaid care. This may not be sustainable. Restoring access to local authority funding for many individuals could help to relieve this pressure. To restore care quality and access to 2009/10 standards, addressing the increased pressure on unpaid carers and local authorities and the unmet need that has developed since then, around £8 billion a year in additional funding will be required for adult social care. More will be required in subsequent years as the population of older and working-age people with care needs continues to grow. Roughly half of all public funding for social care is spent on the working-age population.
The Lords unlike the Secretary of State are convinced that the increasing disparity between prices paid by self-funders and those paid by local authorities is unfair to both sides and therefore unsustainable. The effect is to drive care homes to market to self-funders, and so reduce the availability of places for individuals funded by local authorities. Local authorities differ in respect of the cost pressures they face and their ability to raise funds. Some local authorities are therefore able to spend more per head on adult social care than others, leading to a postcode lottery in standards of provision.
Comment by Anita Charlesworth is the Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation
The House of Lords report shines a welcome light on the perilous state of adult social care in England. Since 2010, funding has fallen in real terms while need has grown and, as a result, many individuals and their families have been left to cope without vital support. The committee is absolutely right that social care now needs a substantial injection of public funding to ensure that those in need have access to care, and to tackle the growing workforce crisis. Research by the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund has shown that restoring levels of quality and access to those seen in 2009/10 as the committee recommends would require an additional £8bn cash injection next year.
‘While additional funding will help stabilise the sector, the House of Lords report is further evidence that the current means-tested system doesn’t work and needs fundamental reform. The government must now find the political will to bring about a fairer, more sustainable system that protects more people from the catastrophic costs of care. It is inevitable that any serious reform will be expensive. If we don’t want to further damage wider public services, the money will need to come from increased taxation. With so many failed attempts at reform, we now need an honest and open public debate about the level of support that the state will provide and how this will be paid for.
‘The committee has ultimately underlined that doing nothing is no longer a viable option and that social care reform must be at the top of the policy agenda for whoever next leads the country.’
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee Report sheds light on a social care system that is unsustainable. The sufferers of the political indecision are families and individuals who are being asked to provide care where there is none available. The solution is to be found in a new system of taxation. We all know that increase in social care funding will have to be met by taxpayers. What we need is a Government with the political will to grasp the nettle.
Albert Cook Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute
Bettal Quality Consultancy