Hunt vows social care green paper will spark funding debate

22 Mar 18

Jeremy Hunt has promised an upcoming green paper will “jump start” a debate with the public about how social care should be funded in the future.

Speaking to an audience of social care workers on Tuesday, the health secretary recognised the “economics of the publicly funded social care market are highly fragile” and said care models needed to “transform and evolve”.

He said: “We will therefore look at how the government can prime innovation in the market, develop the evidence for new models and services, and encourage new models of care provision to expand at scale.”

Hunt outlined seven key principles the government is considering as it draws up its social care green paper, due to be released before the summer.

He added: “We must make sure there is a long-term financially sustainable approach to funding the whole system.”

This would “take time” but “must not be an excuse to put off necessary reforms”, Hunt stated. 

“Nor must it delay the debate we need to have with the public about where the funding for social care in the future should come from – so the green paper will jump-start that debate,” Hunt promised.

He also said he would look at making paying for social care fairer and less dependent on the “lottery of which illness” a person gets.

He explained the green paper would look at giving people greater control over the care they received, announcing he would consult on personal health budgets.

The health secretary also promised to address the quality of social care, and better integrate health and social care services.

Hunt also acknowledged more people needed to be attracted to the care sector and “financial support must be matched with recognition of the value of this vital work”.

The needs of carers would be “central to our new social care strategy”, he added.

Ray Puddifoot, London Councils’ executive member for adult social care, called for the health secretary’s pledges to be backed up by funding.
“In order to make the transformation meaningful, adult social care must be adequately funded.

“In London we are already anticipating a £300m funding shortfall in adult social care between now and 2020.”

Colin Noble, health and social care spokesman for the County Councils Network, agreed. “System reform is needed to sit side-by-side any injection of funding. We would encourage government to explore a more holistic person-centred approach to health and social care, with prevention at its heart.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “We accept money is not enough. It is essential that NHS and social care systems operate as one and that needs reform.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies released a report today saying councils faced an almost impossible struggle to plug social care’s funding black hole with the loss of government grant by 2020. 

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