The Government urgently needs to come forward with additional funding this year to help the ravaged adult social care sector meet immediate pressures, including inflation and unmet care needs, says the cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) 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 Levelling Up, Housing and Communities 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.”
The report notes the additional pressures of Covid-19 as having exacerbated the underlying structural challenges of rising demand, unmet need, and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. It also notes severe current pressures arising from increases in the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage, and from rising inflation. That most of the funding from the Health and Social Care Levy Levy will go to the NHS, and the money that will go to adult social care is for reforms, not cost pressures, is also highlighted in the report.
Addressing the Government’s sector reforms, the report notes the positive stakeholder reception to the vision outlined in the Government’s White Paper on long-term reform of adult social care, titled People at the Heart of Care. The report commends the Government for introducing many welcome initiatives such as those relating to housing and data which could make a significant difference in the long-term to people’s lives.
The report calls on the Government to publish a 10-year plan for how its vision in the People at the Heart of Care White Paper will be achieved, taking into account how the different policies interweave and affect one another. The Government should also publish a 10-year strategy for the adult social care workforce which includes a clear roadmap with core milestones, outcomes, and measures of success.
The report expresses concerns about the sheer number of reforms and new ways of working in respect of adult social care that involve and affect local authorities. To help local councils deliver the numerous social care reforms, it’s important the Government provides 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.
The report also calls on the Government to publish a new burdens assessment by the end of the year to determine the level of resource needed by local government in terms of staff, expertise, and funding to deliver the full package of adult social care reforms.