The Government's social care announcement is an important 'first step', but further clarity is needed on a range of additional crucial issues. In the coming weeks, government needs to work with councils, their partners and those with lived experience, in order to develop a care and support system which is fit for the future.
Responding to the Government’s ‘Build back better: our plan for health and social care’ publication, including plans for a new 1.25 per cent Health and Social Care Levy based on National Insurance contributions to raise extra funding for health and adult social care, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
“COVID-19 has brought into sharp relief the challenges facing adult social care, and in many cases exacerbated them, but it has also powerfully underlined the essential value of social care in supporting people to live the life they want to lead.
“We recognise that protecting people from ‘catastrophic care costs’ and having to sell their home to pay for care is a government commitment. It is an important first step toward changing the way social care is funded and will help to reduce the burden of costs on people.
“It is good that the Government recognises that this alone is not enough to give the nation the social care system it wants and needs and the further announcements around the care workforce, Disabled Facilities Grant and supported housing are helpful. However, there are a range of additional crucial issues which need to be addressed if we are to deliver a care and support system that is fit for the future. The promise of a new adult social care white paper – developed with councils, people who draw on social care and other partners – is positive, but will need to be backed by adequate investment.
“More immediately, greater information is needed on what proportion of the new levy will come to social care, including when and how the funding will be distributed. The Spending Review must also set out how immediate and short-term pressures will be addressed, along with funding to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of care and support, without relying on measures such as the adult social care council tax precept, which raises varying amounts in different parts of the country and is not related to need.
“Much of the plan focuses on the NHS, but a sustainable NHS depends on a sustainable social care system, as care and support is essential in its own right in supporting people of all ages to live their best life as well as alleviating pressure on the health service. It is important to remember that, while the NHS backlog needs to be tackled, social care was already under greater pressure pre-pandemic.
“This is a hugely complex area and there is much that needs clarifying in the Government’s plan. Over the coming weeks, government therefore needs to work with councils, their partners and those with lived experience, in order to build on today’s potentially helpful foundations and develop a care and support system which is fit for the future.”