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Welcome For NCF ‘Must Haves’ For Politicians…

…but a call for inclusivity over social care provision

SOCIAL CARE campaigners have welcomed a national body’s list of ‘must haves’ for the main political parties but called for a more inclusive approach over providers.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) welcomed the National Care Forum’s priorities it wants to see politicians include in their election manifestos.

But the ICG says a mixed market approach – including both profit-making and not-for-profit care providers – is the best approach.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the NCF’s priority list and hope it influences politicians who should be looking at social care reform in their manifestos.

“What I would look at though, is the emphasis on not-for-profit care provision. I would argue that rather than single out one type of provider we seek better support for all types – for profit and not-for-profit, small, medium and large – to meet current and growing, future demand.

“There is, in some quarters I believe, a “not-for-profit good, profit-making bad,”

opinion, which is in my view is wrong.”

He said a lot of care was currently being provided by small to medium-sized private sector providers. It would take a huge and extremely costly, seismic shift for not-for-profit providers to be able to meet all current and future demand.

“Besides which, there is no need to switch away from the current model which has room for all providers,” Mr Padgham added. “All care providers have to run a viable operation – whether you call it a profit or a surplus – otherwise the Care Quality Commission will not let them operate.

“Social care benefits greatly from providers who invest in their services, in their staff and in their buildings. Those providers are embedded in and support their local communities and tailor services to meet demand, just as not-for-profit providers do.

“The sector is dominated by providers who put people before profit – if they weren’t in it to look after people, they would have exited the market a long time ago.

“And in terms of regulation, I would struggle to find a more closely monitored and regulated sector than social care provision.”

The ICG is calling on the political parties to debate social care at their party conferences. It set out its priorities for social care reform last year, in its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document.

The five pillars are:

  • Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it
  • Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care
  • Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
  • Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
  • Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and homecare visits.