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Call for 7bn annual social care funding

Care England is calling on the government to inject an annual £7bn increase in social care funding as a starting point for reform.

The representative body also stressed that extra funding alone will not remedy the adult social care system.

This comes after the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee launched an inquiry to investigate how covid-19 has impacted the adult social care sector and its long-term funding needs following the pandemic.

Care England has submitted evidence to the inquiry and stressed that future strategies must include a holistic approach towards the long term development of adult social care.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: ‘We hope that the Housing Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s second inquiry into the long term funding of adult social care proves a catalyst in the government implementing funding reform.

‘The sector cannot wait. Funding alone will not however remedy the dysfunctionalities which have emerged concerning adult social care funding. As we advance, we must seek to override those cultures and processes which mean care is often not commissioned at sufficient rates.

‘It is now or never. We want to work with the government to ensure that it can deliver on its promise of reform.’

In 2018-19 adult social care accounted for 41% of local authority expenditure. Continuing pressures on services and increased demand have been addressed by short-term and fragmented additional funding from central government, making long-term planning difficult.

Covid-19 has placed additional pressures on adult social care. Costs have increased due to additional PPE, cleaning and staff costs, while a fall in demand for services threatens to put providers out of business. The long-term economic, social and health consequences of covid-19 remain uncertain.

The Committee carried out a joint inquiry with the Health and Social Care Committee on the long-term funding of adult social care in 2018.

It called for the establishment of a Parliamentary Commission to develop a long-term funding solution for adult social care based on political consensus and public engagement, covering housing as well as health and social care services.

It recommended that additional funding be raised through Council Tax reform, a new ring-fenced social care premium for the over-40s or increases to inheritance tax above a certain threshold.

Building on the work of its predecessor committee, the new inquiry will investigate the likely legacy of the covid-19 pandemic on the adult social care sector and the impact this has had on long-term funding need.

It will also examine how additional funds can be raised to ensure the long-term stability of the sector and how the social care market can be supported to improve innovation.

Launching the inquiry, committee chair Clive Betts MP said: ‘The challenge of finding a long-term solution to the financial pressures on the adult social care system is one of the toughest questions we will have to face in the coming years.

‘We have seen year on year the demand on services increasing, while local authority budgets have been stretched more and more.

‘The government has attempted to address this spasmodically with one-off pots of funding for the most critical needs, but it is clear we must have a solution that provides a financial plan for decades, not just months.

‘Unless the funding of social care is resolved there will continue to be more cuts to other council services and this is simply not sustainable.

‘Our new inquiry sets out to understand how covid-19 has placed further stress on an already challenging environment, and the likely long-term consequences for adult social care.

‘Given the likely long-term financial implications of the pandemic on society as a whole, we will also reconsider how we can provide the necessary funding boost fairly and look at how we can support the sector to innovate in how it provides care.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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