Letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on adult social care reform

We – the cross-party leaders of the Local Government Association – urge you to put social care funding and reform at the centre of your thinking on how best to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic.

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The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

The Rt Hon Helen Whately MP
Minister of State for Care

                                                                                                                         10 May 2021

Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,

Everyone should be able to live the life they want to lead; to connect to what makes us feel alive and valued. This is common to us all. Social care supports people of all ages to achieve this. In this way, social care is common to us all, too.

It is precisely because social care is about all of us, that we – the cross-party leaders of the Local Government Association – urge you to put social care funding and reform at the centre of your thinking on how best to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic.

The forthcoming Queen’s Speech, as well as the Spending Review later this year, are key opportunities for the Government to make good on its promise to ‘fix social care’. Improving social care for everyone who draws on it requires a long-term and sustainable settlement. Sustainable funding means three things.
 
First, we need investment, on an on-going basis, to fully move from a historical model of wellbeing based on care homes and hospitalisation to one of prevention, reablement, more appropriate accommodation, and community care and support that puts people first and acts on their knowledge of lived experience.

Traditional services will of course continue to have an important role to play in the future, but this investment is what will enable councils and their many valued partners to deliver the necessary transition to a broader model of care that achieves better outcomes for people and, in turn, strengthens our local communities.

This more preventative model, rooted in local communities, would be better for people. And it would be better for the NHS by preventing or delaying an individual’s attendance at hospital.

In this way, the success of social care is closely linked to the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan. Given the size and scope of care and support, it also plays a key role in the local, regional and national economy.

Second, we must confine to history the approach of additional one-off grants and, in particular, the adult social care precept to fund social care. While welcome, they are only ever sticking plaster solutions that are unsustainable and hamper longer-term planning. Care and support to help people live their best life is a national entitlement and the dependence on council tax to fund it is not the solution.

Third, as important as it is to protect people from having to sell their home to pay for care, this will carry a significant cost. Alongside any reforms of this type, we therefore need a solution for bringing more money into social care that is commensurate with the level of ambition we need to have for the future of care and support because of the level of ambition we have for everyone who draws on or works in social care.

We have previously stated, and still believe, that the case should be made for increases in national taxation and/or a social care premium based on the core principle of universal risk-pooling.

Councils have proved over time that they are the most efficient part of the public sector, and adult social care has now managed within the context of severe funding pressures for several years. Over the last year in particular, councils have demonstrated their ability to respond to changing demands and needs under the most difficult of circumstances.

We have also seen examples of great local innovation – particularly between local government and the voluntary and community sector – that has helped support people of all ages who draw on social care. These ‘glimpses of the future’, including the important work between social care and housing, are what we can embed with certainty and on a larger scale if sustainable funding is secured.
 
The decisions your Government makes on social care funding and reform in the coming weeks have the potential to positively impact, to a significant degree, both the millions of people who draw on, or work in, care and support now, and the many millions more who will do so in the decades ahead.

They have the potential to frame social care as being about investment in people and therefore all of us, not ‘us and them’, rather than a cost that is too difficult or too high. A failure to act will be a bitter blow to everyone connected to social care.
 
We look forward to seeing the Government’s plans and, as ever, remain ready and willing to work with you and your Government colleagues to bring about the changes that are needed.
 


Yours sincerely,

Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman, Local Government Association

Cllr Nick Forbes CBE, Labour Group Leader and LGA Senior Vice Chair

Cllr Izzi Seccombe OBE, Conservative Group Leader and LGA Vice Chair

Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, Liberal Democrat Group Leader and LGA Vice Chair

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE, Independent Group Leader and LGA Vice Chair