Social care reform ‘must not be kicked into the long grass’

19 Jun 17

The government must not use the inconclusive general election result to kick social care reform into the long grass, an umbrella-group has said.

The County Council Network has today urged the government to be bold in addressing the crisis in social care funding, ahead of a meeting between county leaders and health experts tomorrow.

Colin Noble, health and social care spokesman for CCN and leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “We should not look to kick the social care green paper into the long grass.”

It was important for county authorities to play an active role in all future discussions about long-term social care reform, he added.

The organisation has called on the prime minister to “start a national conversation on social care and launch a green paper on the future sustainability of social care”.

Today’s call from CCN follows a report published yesterday by UNISON, during the trade union’s 2017 local government conference, which stated “the residential care system is failing the elderly”.

The union reported that 83% of care workers say they are so rushed they are compromising the dignity and well-being of the people they look after. 

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said: “Significant change needs to happen if respect and dignity are to be restored and standards improved in care homes.

“Elderly people should expect the best possible care, whether they are being looked after in their own accommodation, or in a care home.”

Today CCN have also requested greater clarity from the government on the future of the ‘needs-based’ fair funding review, which the previous administration had committed to doing before 2019/20.

The CCN noted research from the public sector consultancy firm LG Futures, which estimated on average, counties receive 60% less government funding per elderly resident than inner London – despite counties being home to the largest and fastest growing elderly populations.

Noble also said: “We know social care has been a hotly-disputed topic, but government should not waver in its convictions for reform: the long-term sustainability for social care depends on whether we have a national cross-sector conversation on how to ensure we can cope with demand that will only intensify.”

During the general election campaign Theresa May unveiled plans in the Tory manifesto to the way social care was funded, which would see pensioners contribute more towards their care – albeit not in their lifetime.

Although, critics dubbed this a ‘dementia tax’ and May was accused of a u-turn when she later announced that there would be a cap on total contributions.

CIPFA head, Rob Whiteman, has said the Conservative plan would mean the government may have to legislate to allow councils to borrow money to fund social services.

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