Three-quarters of MPs agree that central government funding for adult social care should be protected in the same way as money for the NHS. It is clear that care is an election issue across the political spectrum and for the public – our YouGov public polling last year showed that investment in care is a priority second only to the NHS. With further cuts to local government budgets expected in the next Parliament, social care is going to be under ever more pressure unless MPs put their sentiments into action post-election and address the financial crisis facing the care system.
Further details from the Local Government Executive
The ComRes survey for the Local Government Association found 35 per cent of MPs from all parties strongly agreed that social care should be protected, while 40 per cent said they tended to agree. Only four per cent of respondents strongly disagreed.
The LGA has previously warned of a £4.3bn “black hole” in social care funding by the end of the decade due to a combination of rising demand and shrinking local government budgets.
Almost nine out of 10 councils already restrict access to care to those with substantial or critical needs and the association has warned that the “chronically underfunded” system is piling pressure on the health service.
Elsewhere, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, David Pearson, has said it is a “nonsense” for the Government to promise to invest more in the NHS while social care budgets are cut. Figures from Adass show social care spending has been cut by £3.53bn over the past four years.
MPs in the North were most likely to support the protection of care funding, with 90 per cent in favour. This was followed by 87 per cent in London, 67 per cent in the Midlands and 61 per cent of MPs in the South.
A separate ComRes survey of both sitting MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates found that 76 per cent thought social care funding should be protected in the same way as NHS funding. No MPs strongly disagreed. The LGA said this suggests that support for social care will continue into the next parliament.
Cllr David Sparks, chair of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils, care workers, health professionals and now even MPs agree that social care funding must be protected in the same way as the NHS. There can be no excuse for the next government to ignore this.
“Councils have protected our most vulnerable people as far as possible, often at the expense of other services, and we will continue to prioritise those most in need. However, the combined pressures of insufficient funding, growing demand, escalating costs and a 40 per cent cut to local government funding across this parliament mean that despite councils’ best efforts, they are having to make tough decisions about the care services they can provide.
“Adult social care is in crisis. We need a care system that is fit for the 21st century. It’s not enough for consecutive governments to keep papering over the cracks with short-term fixes. We urgently need a longer-term solution that puts social care on a sustainable footing. Failure to do so will deprive our elderly of the care they deserve, create additional pressure on the NHS and push other local services over the edge.”