Communities and Local Government Committee Promotes Major Social Care Reform

Major reform of social care funding and provision is needed, according to the Communities and Local Government Committee Select Committee.

Both long term funding and serious threats to social care provision must be addressed, it is asserted by a report published by the committee.

The report finds inadequate funding very seriously affects the quantity and quality of adult social care provision, impacting on those receiving care, the NHS, care staff, carers and providers.

Consequently, a number of recommendations are outlined by the Communities and Local Government Committee Select Committee.

These relate to the monitoring of care services, care commissioning, and the care workforce.

Despite the criticism, the committee also welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to provide an additional £2 billion for social care over the next three years.

But even in this area, the commission believes that this falls short of the amount required to close the social care funding gap.

Expenditure on adult social care will need to rise as a proportion of total public expenditure and recommends an urgent review of how to fund social care in the long-term, according to the report.

The Committee also welcomed the Government’s Green Paper and recommends it looks at a range of all possible revenue options including hypothecating national taxation and age-related expenditure.

Clive Betts, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, outlined the process that led to the report.

“During our inquiry we heard mounting concerns about the serious impact which inadequate funding is having both on the quality and on the level of care which people receive. We heard compelling evidence of acute threats to care providers’ financial viability and an increasing reliance on unpaid carers.”

Betts noted that there are massive challenges facing the healthcare system in the years to come.

“It is clear there are also severe challenges in the care workforce, with high vacancy and turnover rates, and low pay, poor employment terms and conditions, lack of training and inadequate career opportunities the norm across the sector.”

The chair also spoke on some possible solutions that can be implemented in the future, as the committee sees it.

“A long-term fix, working on a cross-party basis and involving the public and social care sector, is urgently necessary to meet the ever-increasing demographic pressures on the system. This review must be ambitious and consider a wide range of potential funding sources, looking again at age-related expenditure, options such as a hypothecated tax for social care, a compulsory insurance scheme, and differences in how individuals contribute.”

The report also found the following:

– Funding constraints are leading to councils providing care and support to fewer people, concentrating it on those with the highest needs, with care becoming the minimum required for a person to get through the day.

– Funding gaps are pushing providers to the brink of financial viability, leading to them failing, exiting the market and handing back contracts for provision of care services.

– Councils are increasingly taking a “price first, quality second approach” in their commissioning of social care, with accounts of some councils paying as little as £2.24 an hour for residential care.

– The high vacancy and turnover rates, particularly among nurses in social care, point to severe challenges in the social care workforce.

 

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