This briefing sets out the LGA's response to different parts of the government's plan for health and social care. While there have been potentially positive developments, we have serious concerns and question whether they make the kind of progress needed to help adult social care deliver for people.
On 7 September, the Government published ‘Build Back Better: Our plan for health and social care’ (the Plan). The Plan sets out a number of Government initiatives designed to strengthen the NHS and social care as we move forward and recover from the pandemic and its consequences. These initiatives will be funded through the centrepiece of the Plan; a new 1.25 per cent Health and Social Care Levy (the Levy), ringfenced for health and social care from April 2023, and based on National Insurance (NI) contributions.
We have a number of questions relating to the Plan’s content and are seeking more detail as a priority. This briefing will therefore be updated as we get further clarity on the issues raised below.
Overall LGA position
Adult social care and support is a vital public service that supports people of all ages, with different needs and in different settings, to live the life they want to lead. It helps support people’s independence, wellbeing, relationships and contribution to their local community. In this way, it helps strengthen the places in which we live, our economy and the capacity of other local services. Funding and reform are needed to bolster social care’s potential to best support people and communities in the way described. This is the context in which we consider recent developments and we are keen to work with Government to find a long-term sustainable solution for adult social care and support.
We recognise that protecting people from ‘catastrophic care costs’ and having to sell their home to pay for care is a Government commitment. This is a potentially important first step in changing the way social care is paid for and funded, which we acknowledge is an important issue. It is also helpful that the Government has looked beyond just this issue, outlining action on, for example, the workforce and supported housing. The Government has also committed to publishing a new adult social care white paper by the end of the year.
While these are all potentially positive developments, we have serious concerns and question whether they make the kind of progress needed to help adult social care deliver for people.
• We are alarmed that the Government’s solution for tackling social care’s core pressures appears to be the use of council tax, the social care precept, and long-term efficiencies. We estimate that an annually recurring cost pressure of £1.5 billion needs to be funded to stabilise the care provider market. We also estimate that core pressures (inflation, demography and National Living Wage) total £1.1 billion per year to keep services running at 2019/20 levels of quality and access.
• We are disappointed by the absence of any action on a number of other crucial issues that all need addressing if we are to deliver a social care system that best enables people of all ages to live the lives they want to lead.
There is currently a real lack of detail on the Plan’s initiatives and we are seeking to gather this information as a matter of urgency.
As we have set out throughout this briefing, the Plan is extremely light on detail. Over the coming weeks we will be seeking to fill this void through on-going discussions with Ministers and officials. There are also many links to be made with the upcoming Spending Review and we will be raising the issues and concerns set out above in all of our work on this agenda. We are keen to work with Government to deliver a sustainable long-term solution for adult social care and support.
We recognise that councils will have their own concerns and questions following the publication of the Plan and we want to ensure that our work best reflects those. Therefore, if there are points you wish to raise with us, please contact us at: ASCreform@local.gov.uk