We are writing as leaders of organisations that represent adult social care nationally to urge the Government to act now on reform of England’s social care system and publish its proposals before the Summer Recess.
In common with all people who draw on care and support, and colleagues working across social care, we are clear that the time to deliver reform is now. Reform must be underpinned by a positive vision: ‘We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us’, as Social Care Future put it.
Transforming social care so that it is sustainable and helps enable people with care and support needs to be fully included in their communities matters in its own right. More broadly, as we look to recover from the pandemic, we need to see social care as a key part of the solution and a key part of our infrastructure.
The vision we share cannot be achieved by social care or even wider public services alone. Public resources need to be targeted to support and supplement the efforts and activities of citizens, community groups, voluntary organisations and local businesses, building on the best of what we have seen in our local communities over the last fifteen months. The social care sector, working alongside other council services and the NHS, can shift its practices to enable a much-increased level of preventative activity, freeing up resources for personalised support to local people requiring long term care.
Policy on social care, including funding reform, should be guided by and tested against this vision, with a single shared ambition across health and social care which puts people's expectations for their lives at the centre. This can be measured using Think Local Act Personal’s Making It Real framework.
Addressing longer term funding and co-producing a ten-year plan for social care will help enable successful implementation of the forthcoming Health and Social Care Bill and the revision of the Mental Health Act. We recognise that helping people to avoid catastrophic care costs and selling their home to pay for care are important dimensions of the reform debate. But action on these issues alone will not suffice.
We have collectively agreed that the priority areas for action are therefore as follows:
1. Funding for short-term stabilisation
As a first step, the government must urgently address short-term funding challenges, which have been worsened by Covid, to prevent further deterioration in the access to and quality of care. An immediate injection of funding is needed to enable short term stability and avoid serious risks to support during the next phase of the pandemic and beyond. Work by our organisations and others has identified the most serious challenges to support which will require funding.
2. Urgently bringing forward investment and reform proposals needed to ensure the sustainable long-term future of social care
The government should bring forward proposals for longer-term investment and reform as an immediate priority to create a simpler, fairer system. However, any additional funding that is made available to social care, should not simply be used for ‘more of the same’ and the pre-COVID-19 status quo. It should be targeted on action to shift towards the above vision, such as more home, housing and community focused, asset-based, inclusive and preventative models of care.
3. Investment in the short term to speed the shift towards a system of social care that is both sustainable and fit for the modern age. This includes:
- A targeted fund enabling councils and their partners to make a rapid shift towards prevention.
- A new deal for the care workforce, including personal assistants and other non-traditional workforce roles.
- Funding support for action on inequalities and levelling up.
- An innovation fund to enable local authorities to harness the true potential of technology.
- Transformation and improvement support to councils and providers and to ensure a new funded transformation and improvement framework for adult social care.
Each of these actions is essential for creating the conditions in which social care can be a full and equal partner with the NHS and enable more people to remain independent, living in their own home or in their community.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns with you and stand ready to work with the Government to ensure that our future social care system is best able to support people to live their best lives.
Cllr David Fothergill – Chairman, Community Wellbeing Board, Local Government Association
Stephen Chandler – President, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Kathy Roberts – Chief Executive, Association of Mental Health Providers, for the Care Providers Alliance
Martin Green – Chief Executive, Care England, for the Care Providers Alliance
Anna Severwright – Social Care Future
Martin Routledge – Social Care Future
Kathryn Smith – Chief Executive, Social Care Institute for Excellence
Clenton Farquharson – Think Local Act Personal