Interviews

13.04.17

New social care funding misses the point

Source: PSE Apr/May 17

Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee, reflects on the social care funding released in this year’s Spring Budget and the government’s much-anticipated Green Paper.

While it is welcome news that the chancellor has recognised that the struggling adult social care sector needs extra funding, it is highly likely that we will be having similar arguments about the crisis come next year, the chair of the CLG Committee has told PSE. 

Speaking to us after the Spring Budget, where Philip Hammond announced a further £1bn for social care in 2017-18, Clive Betts said the funding falls well short of the £1.5bn his committee recommended was necessary to plug the gap in funding for the next year and provide adequate relief from the immediate pressures faced by local care services. 

“We also said as a committee that there are so many different estimates of what the position is going forward, for the rest of the Parliament, that we thought the easiest and most objective way was to ask the National Audit Office (NAO) to do a review of what the position was and, very quickly, they could come up with a figure which we could then all agree on,” he explained. 

“The government didn’t mention that. I think, just to pluck another billion pounds over two years, to say that’s enough, misses the point. The chancellor can’t be certain it is enough, he doesn’t have any credible evidence to back it. We could be back here in a year’s time having the same argument.” 

While the committee accepted there needed to be a quick fix for this financial year, noted Betts, there was also a consensus that a little bit more reflection and analysis would have helped settle a longstanding argument. 

Cross-party Green Paper 

While at the despatch box, Hammond said “the government will set out its thinking on the options for the future financing of social care in a Green Paper later this year”. 

Betts, whose committee completed its inquiry into adult social care as PSE went to press, recognised that for the longer term there needs to be a review. “We are pleased to see a Green Paper in the offing, although there is no clear timetable yet. We will certainly be asking questions about that,” he argued.  

“We, as a committee, said, ideally, that looking for the long term we should get agreement on a cross-party basis. That is a cross-party committee saying, unanimously, that for the long term we need it on a cross-party basis. There is no mention of that, so far. 

“Again, ideally, we ought to have the cross-party talks before we get to the Green Paper, but at the very least, we should have them after the Green Paper is produced.” 

Discussing the evidence presented to his committee, Betts reflected: “No one has come forward and said: ‘this is how we are going to solve it’. What we have seen is that there are massive challenges. No one has given us evidence that it could all be funded by the public sector, and it will be all out of national taxation.” 

He added that one thing most people want to see is a strong local element, with local accountability. However, how you put that together, while recognising the significant changes about the localisation of business rates that are also on the horizon, are issues that need to be reflected on. 

“We have had lots of problems presented to us, but not a comprehensive solution. That is what the Green Paper should be looking at,” he stated. “One thing that the chancellor did say, in addition, was that he ruled out any change to a tax on people’s assets once they die. 

“If you are going to do a complete and comprehensive review of the system, you don’t begin by ruling things out. You say we have to consider the options. I don’t think it is helpful to begin by ruling out something that could, eventually, be worth considering.” 

c. Victoria Jones - PA edit

Health and social care integration 

Discussing health and social care integration, Betts stated that NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, told his committee that while it can bring benefits, “it is not going to solve the problem of social care funding in the long term”. 

“It won’t solve it,” said Betts resolutely. “If anyone thinks all we have to do is get health and social care integrated and everything will be fine, they are missing the point. We are still going to have a continuing need for extra funding for social care, simply because of demographics. 

“Pooling budgets is sometimes called joint commissioning, and there are different ways of doing it, but the one difficulty with all these things is that they tend to work until something goes wrong. And then everyone blames everyone else for what happened. You really have got to have clear lines of accountability and, of course, currently health and social care have very different accountability systems. 

“Social care is accountable to, ultimately, elected councillors on the local authority. Health is accountable to the secretary of state. I don’t think government yet has a clear view of how that works. That is going to be a challenge for the future. The Manchester system is a halfway house towards it, but leaves some of those questions unanswered.”

For more information

W: www.tinyurl.com/CLG-Committee

© Victoria Jones - PA

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

‘Fundamental rethink’ on social housing needed as Javid brings forward green paper

20/09/2017‘Fundamental rethink’ on social housing needed as Javid brings forward green paper

A wide-ranging, top-to-bottom green paper on social housing is to be brought forward by the government, Sajid Javid has this week announced. ... more >
Cost benefit analysis of government infrastructure ‘misused and poorly communicated’

20/09/2017Cost benefit analysis of government infrastructure ‘misused and poorly communicated’

The government must improve its system for valuing the costs and benefits of its infrastructure to improve the delivery of key projects, experts ... more >
Birmingham recalls Improvement Panel following ‘serious setbacks’

20/09/2017Birmingham recalls Improvement Panel following ‘serious setbacks’

Birmingham City Council’s improvement panel is to stay at the city, despite the authority telling the DCLG that it no longer required its s... more >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

How do we deliver true social and economic value for the community?

18/09/2017How do we deliver true social and economic value for the community?

Five years on from the introduction of the Social Value Act, Alison Ramsey, frameworks co-ordinator at Scape Procure, reflects on the key questions that prompted the legislation’s introduction. The Social Value Act was an important landmark. It decisively addressed the need for major public projects led by all public bodies to maxim... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Support for councils following Grenfell

04/09/2017Support for councils following Grenfell

Ian Moore, CEO of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), discusses the wider lessons of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and what measures and assess... more >
A quiet revolution

04/09/2017A quiet revolution

Dermot Ryan, programme director at NHS Digital for the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), talks to PSE about the importance of moving to the ... more >
Effective leadership in uncertain times

04/09/2017Effective leadership in uncertain times

Dr David Beech, lecturer in people management at Salford Business School, argues that continuous renewal and progress is fundamental to effective... more >
Refocusing professional development

04/09/2017Refocusing professional development

Graeme McDonald, managing director of Solace, discusses the importance of taking time out to focus on learning, especially in the ever-changing l... more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

14/08/2017Time for reflection

A lot has happened since the last edition of PSE was published. In particular, the snap general election delivered an astounding result that many of the pollsters and political experts could not have predicted when Theresa May initially called for it back in April. Chris Painter, Professor Emeritus at Birmingham City University, provides ... read more >

public sector focus

Make the census meaningful again

11/09/2017Make the census meaningful again

Christopher Gallagher, Public Sector – ... more >
Time to revisit community engagement and rebuild trust

30/08/2017Time to revisit community engagement and rebuild trust

The Grenfell Tower disaster revealed a number... more >