The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry to investigate how covid-19 has impacted the adult social care sector and its long-term funding needs following the pandemic.
The committee will consider how the pandemic has “placed further stress on an already challenging environment”, recognising the additional costs such as on personal protective equipment, cleaning and staffing, and will build on the work that it carried out in 2018 as part of a joint inquiry with the Health and Social Care Committee.
The adult social care sector comprises a range of support services for older people and working age adults with disabilities. In 2018-19 it accounted for 41% of local authority expenditure. Continuing pressures on services and increased demand have been addressed by short-term and fragmented additional funding from central Government, making long-term planning difficult.
Building on the work of its predecessor committee, the new inquiry will investigate the likely legacy of the covid-19 pandemic on the adult social care sector and the impact this has had on long-term funding need. It will also examine how additional funds can be raised to ensure the long-term stability of the sector and how the social care market can supported to improve innovation.
Launching the inquiry, HCLG committee chair Clive Betts said: “The challenge of finding a long-term solution to the financial pressures on the adult social care system is one of the toughest questions we will have to face in the coming years.
“We have seen year on year the demand on services increasing, while local authority budgets have been stretched more and more.”
He stressed there must be a “solution that provides a financial plan for decades, not just months”
Responding to the launch, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Bold action is desperately needed to secure both the immediate and long-term future of care and support.
“This cross-party inquiry will be another important contributor to how we can sustainably pay for social care services, which have been seriously impacted by the pandemic but also affected by decades of delayed reforms by successive governments of different political colours.
“In addition to supporting this inquiry, we continue to call on the Government to urgently bring forward its proposals and a clear timetable for reform, so that we can finally put social care on a sustainable footing and enable people to live the lives they want to lead.”