MPs call for urgent review of social care funding

31 Mar 17

An urgent review of social care funding is needed as “inadequate” resources are placing people at serious risk, the communities and local government committee has warned.

In today’s report the committee called on ministers to provide extra funding for social care while addressing the long-term problems facing the sector.

Its report states “unless significant extra funds are provided in the short and medium terms, the social care system will be unable to cope with the demands placed upon it. Extra funding alone will not solve the problems that face us, but without it the other steps we have suggested [social care] will quite simply fail.”

The committee welcomed chancellor Philip Hammond commitment to provide an additional £2bn for social care over the next three years but said this was not enough to close the social care funding gap.

MPs suggested a £1.5bn tranche from the improved Better Care Fund should be made immediately available to meet the shortfall in 2017-18 and that the government should commit to closing the adult social care funding shortfall for 2019-20.

Committee chair Clive Betts said: “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.”

One of the report’s key findings is that funding constraints are leading to councils providing care to fewer people, concentrating it on those with the highest needs. Support is focused on the minimum required for a person to get through the day.

The committee concluded this led “to a deterioration in the overall quality of care and that this is likely to continue”.

Fewer than one in 12 directors of social care are fully confident that their local authority will be able to meet its statutory duties in 2017-18.

Care providers were also found to be using privately paying clients to subsidise local authority funded clients.

The CLG noted 96% of people paying for their own care paid on average 43% more than state funded residents in the same home for the same room and the same level of care.

According the committee, councils were 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 report said integration of health and social care had the potential to bring benefits but “it alone will not solve the problem of social care funding in the long term”.

Commenting on the findings, Richard Humphries, senior fellow at the health think-tank the King’s Fund, said the report confirmed that the social care system is underfunded and “letting down older and disabled people, their families and carers”.

He said it was vital that the government’s green paper due later this year laid out a “radical vision for the future of social care and a sustainable funding settlement”.

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