Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced yesterday that the long awaited Green Paper on social care funding is to be delayed until Autumn and the funding profile of the sector ‘will not be settled until the spending review’.
When the report was first announced, it was scheduled for released in Autumn 2017 but then, in November, the Government said release had been deferred until this Summer.
Now it’s been put back again. Yesterday’s announcement of the deferment followed an earlier announcement of a £20bn increase in funding towards the National Health Service, and the development of a 10-year plan for NHS sustainability. Currently, under England’s care system, users are liable for the full cost of their care until their savings including wealth tied up in property are down to just £23,500.
The National Care Forum (NCF), which represents not-for-profit providers, said the delay would cause further disruption to an already fragile social care sector.
“The need for action on social care is now” said NCF executive director Vic Rayner.
“We were promised a Green Paper on social care this Summer, way before the current announcements on funding and a ten-year settlement for the NHS. The continual pushing back of this key policy agenda is a disservice to people who need and use services, and the wider community.
“The Green Paper needs to focus on a funding solution for social care, alongside important messages around the transformation of service models and delivery. The Green Paper needs to explore these in detail and therefore the purported logic of tying together the consultative paper on social care with the action based funded plan for the NHS does not hold true.
“Our concern is that the real innovation and exploration promised in the social care green paper will disappear as social care and its future funding is shaped and moulded to meet NHS priorities, rather than giving it time over the summer to develop a fully formed future focussed agenda to work in equal partnership with Health.”
VODG, the group that represents voluntary sector organisations, has said it is “disappointed” the government has chosen to delay its long-awaited green paper, as outlined by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in his statement about NHS funding.
Responding to the announcement, VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:
“We welcome the new funding for the NHS and the efforts to join up services. But social care exists in its own right and the current focus on NHS reform must not be at the expense of overlooking community care. It is wholly unacceptable that once again government has decided to delay the green paper process.”
VODG’s True Costs report provided a stark warning to government that the chronic under-funding of social care must be reversed. The report demonstrates the consequences of failing to fund social care: rising levels of unmet need, workforce shortages and concerns about the sustainability, quality and quantity of services.
Rhidian Hughes goes on to say:
“Government is failing to heed warnings from the Care Quality Commission regulator about the sustainability of provision.
Action is vital. Millions of disabled and older people, and their carers, rely on essential social care services each day – we all deserve better.”