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

Sheffield City Region announces major housing pilot

23/11/2017Sheffield City Region announces major housing pilot

Sheffield City Region (SCR) will begin to assess applications for new housing schemes as part of an £8m pilot project across the area. ... more >
London council to launch ‘ethical debt collection’ for residents

23/11/2017London council to launch ‘ethical debt collection’ for residents

Hammersmith and Fulham Council (H & F) have launched “ethical debt collections” service in a bid to reduce costs to residents. ... more >
Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

23/11/2017Council told to reimburse Suffolk woman charged for care she never received

Suffolk County Council has been hit by criticism from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) after a woman was wrongly charged for ... more >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

22/11/2017City-centric, deeply disappointing and a nightmare – criticisms pile against the Budget

It’s been a busy day in the PSE office. Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget included a number of interesting announcements, ranging from new devolution deals and housing measures to changes to business rates. This year’s Statement was described well by Lord Bob Kerslake, who said it had been a “mixed bag” for hous... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Driving forward a healthier Scotland

10/11/2017Driving forward a healthier Scotland

Dundee City Council is leading the way in boosting electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Scotland, writes Rebecca Wallace from the local authority&rsqu... more >
A smarter approach to digital transformation

10/11/2017A smarter approach to digital transformation

Catherine Bright, Smarter Digital Services (SDS) manager, explains how a partnership of 12 councils across Kent and Surrey are jointly funding a ... more >
Delivering on estates

10/11/2017Delivering on estates

Sam Ulyatt, strategic category commercial director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), on how a new framework can help public sector organisat... more >
Open for business

10/11/2017Open for business

Clare Moore, senior specialist of valuation and disposals at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), explains how public sector bodies looking to... 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

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

public sector focus

Visual.ONS: How to compete with the big data aggregators

13/11/2017Visual.ONS: How to compete with the big data aggregators

Advertisement feature Christopher Gallag... more >
Social value: A fresh way of approaching investment

10/11/2017Social value: A fresh way of approaching investment

In an age of austerity, council leaders are a... more >