The underfunding of adult social care and support sector is impacting on the quality of life of people who have care and support needs. It is also creating a fragile provider market, putting workforce and unpaid family carers under further strain, creating unmet and under-met need and impacting on social care’s ability to help mitigate demand pressures on the NHS.
- Adult social care and support is a vital service in its own right. It helps people of all ages to live the life they want to lead. It binds our communities, helps sustain the NHS and provides essential economic value to our country.
- Following the Government’s delays to its green paper, we published our own, ‘The lives we want to lead: The LGA green paper for adult social care and wellbeing’, in the summer of 2018. This was a starting point for a public debate about how to fund care and how it can better support and improve people’s wellbeing. Our response to this consultation was published in November 2018 and sets out key findings, implications and recommendations, including on how to fund social care. In July 2019, to mark one year on from the launch of our own green paper, we produced a further report to set out the consequences of another year of delay and inaction.
- We are pleased that in the recent Spending Round, the Government has responded to our calls and provided desperately needed new money, including £1 billion for social care (children’s and adults), as well as confirming the continuation of existing grants. However, these one-off, piecemeal injections of funding are unlikely to be sufficient to deal with all pressures and hamper councils’ ability to plan for anything beyond a short-term horizon. Social care needs to be given long-term funding certainty in the same way as the NHS, and we look forward to seeing the Government’s plans for long-term adult social care reform.
- The issue of relatively low pay in the social care sector is highlighted regularly and the settlement in the Spending Round provides resources to begin to address this challenge. In the long-term, low pay needs to be addressed as part of the arrangements for the future funding of both adult and children’s social care.
- With people living longer and demand growing, pressures will continue to rise as people live with more multiple and/or complex needs. The underfunding of adult social care and support sector is impacting on the quality of life of people who have care and support needs. It is also creating a fragile provider market, putting workforce and unpaid family carers under further strain, creating unmet and under-met need and impacting on social care’s ability to help mitigate demand pressures on the NHS.
- There is a vital need to invest in primary and community health care, and wider community services, to reduce demand for adult social care. Local authorities’ public health grant funding has reduced by over £700 million in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20. To match the growth in overall NHS funding as part of the Long-Term Plan, the public health grant should increase to at least £3.9 billion by 2024/25. We are continuing our calls for the public health grant to be restored and placed on a long-term sustainable footing for the future, with the additional money used by local authorities to help avert the onset of disease and reduce the burden on NHS and social care.
- More needs to be done to make our model of health and care proactive, person-centred, holistic and preventative.
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Opposition Day Debate: Social Care, House of Commons, 25 February 2020