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NCF Response to Government Reform Announcement: People [Not] at the Heart of Care

The National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not-for-profit social care and support organisations – is calling on the government to honour its pledges to reform adult social care and listen to the voices of people accessing and working in it, following the publication of the government’s ‘next steps for reform’ and the findings of the Hewitt Review.

The government’s plans significantly reduce the promised support for the social care workforce and people drawing upon care, by cutting the original £1.7bn set aside in its White Paper ‘People at the Heart of Care’ to £572m. This includes a reduction of the £500m originally set aside for workforce training, qualifications and wellbeing to £250m and the axing of the £300m set aside to provide more choice in housing and support options, at the same time as announcing the Older Person’s Housing Taskforce launch this Spring. This all comes on top of the delay to the £2.2bn cap on care costs and the reduction in the fair cost of care money made in the Autumn Statement, from £1.36bn to £486m.

Responding to the announcement, Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF said:
“The People at the Heart of Care reforms are in tatters. Yet again the government has repackaged and reduced existing promises of support and funding, only to announce them as if they are new. It has now been 16 months since People at the Heart of Care was first published and so far, nothing substantial has been delivered in that time apart from delays and very significant reductions in the ambition of the reforms.

“At a time when the workforce is facing unprecedented recruitment and retention challenges, and on the same day that the Hewitt Review recommends the creation of a workforce plan for adult social care, it is unconscionable that the government would reduce workforce funding and axe all wellbeing measures. The Hewitt Review calls for a shift towards prevention by Integrated Care Systems – this can’t be done without investing in adult social care. The government’s actions so far do nothing to stop growing unmet need or to combat shrinking capacity in the wider system.”

The Chairs of the NCF Housing with Care Forum, Rachael Byrne, Executive Director, Models of Care and Support, Home Group and Maxine Espley MBE, COO, GreenSquareAccord, said:

“This change to funding for workforce is a disappointing backward step. Workforce is the biggest challenge care providers face and rather than helping us to improve retention and recruitment this will undoubtedly do the opposite. The situation is compounded by the removal of the £300m investment promised to councils to build specialist accommodation for health and care. There is a lack of recognition that ‘every decision about care is a decision about housing’”.

Prof. Rayner continued:

“The announcements today completely undermine the original vision of person-centred reform. People no longer appear to be at heart of the reforms and no attempt has been made to co-produce this new plan with either people working in adult social care, or those seeking to draw upon it. Social care reform stays in the slow lane despite the promises made 16 months ago. It is clearly time for a much more ambitious vision for social care shaped by those who draw on it and those who work so hard to provide it, to enable independent lives – we need a rethink and we need action now, not a diluted repackaging of disappointing announcements.”

NCF is calling for the government to:
Invest in adult social care to ensure it has sustainable funding and contributes to economic growth and social cohesion.

Commit to a fully funded, 10-year national workforce plan for adult social care which improves pay, terms and conditions for the sector.

Think social care first when developing policy.

Create a fair price for providers of all types of social care.

Recognise the interrelationship between housing and adult social care policy.

Recognise the benefits and experience of the not-for-profit sector and put in place measures to expand it.

Take steps to encourage innovation in adult social care in the face of changing demographics and new technologies.

Rethink the structural arrangements for the integration agenda.