MPs call for urgent ‘all options on the table’ review of crumbling social care system
The full extent of the UK’s adult social care crisis was outlined today in a Communities and Local Government Select (CLG) Committee report which called for a full review of the sector by the government.
The committee’s inquiry into adult social care began at the start of 2017 and has highlighted major problems with social care in terms of its workforce, quality of care and lack of funds.
It found that fewer than one in 12 directors of adult social care were fully confident that their local authority would meet its statutory duties in 2017-18.
In a pre-Budget report, the CLG demanded that the government provide a £1.5bn injection for social care for this year – a warning that was not heeded by Phillip Hammond who disappointingly only provided £1bn for the coming year.
The new report warned that underfunding was having a detrimental effect on social care in the UK: “We believe that inadequate funding very seriously affects the quantity and quality of care that is being provided to people, the NHS, care providers, the care market, the way that care is commissioned and the workforce and unpaid carers.”
The CLG committee went on to say that the £2bn for social care announced by Phillip Hammond in the budget was welcome, but it also reiterated recent warnings from councils that it fell short of providing a concrete long-term solution for adult social care.
“We believe that, after successive attempts at reform and in the context of ever-increasing demographic pressures on the system, there is an urgent need for a review of how to fund social care in the long term,” the report stated.
“The evidence we received suggested that, to ensure success, it would need to be inclusive and attract wide public backing, and our visit to Germany showed that cross-party political support, which was key to securing their reforms, is vital.
“We also heard that the review must be ambitious and consider taking funding from a wide range of sources, including how each of us contributes towards the cost of our own care.”
The government’s announcement of a Green Paper on social care was also a good step forward, the committee said. In drawing up the paper, MPs urged the government to involve a variety of political parties and take an open ‘all options on the table’ approach.
Disparity in care
The CLG Committee also found a huge disparity between people paying for their own care as opposed to those using state-funded care. The report stated that 96% of people paying for their own care pay on average 43% more than state-funded residents in the same room and at the same level of care.
There were also concerns about the care providers being able to give staff a fair pay and retain them in roles, as 160,000 to 220,000 workers were paid below the minimum wage, with the media hourly wage nationally standing at £7.40.
This has led to high vacancy and turnover rates in staff for adult social care, particularly with nurses, as around 47.8% were found to leave their job within a year of starting, as the turnover rate for nurses in social care was found to be 35.9%
Additionally, there were key concerns raised that some workers were not receiving a high enough level of training to deal with patients with complex care needs – 27% of care workers received no dementia training, whilst 24% of those who administered medication were not trained in safe procedures for doing so.
Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said that the committee were right to urgently highlight the need for a review of social care.
“The announcement of £2bn for adult social care in the Spring Budget marked a significant step towards protecting the services caring for the most vulnerable in our communities over the next few years, but it will not deal with all short-term pressures and it is not the long-term solution to the funding crisis that we have consistently called for,” he said. “It is impossible to plan for the long-term without assurances of long-term funding.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges councils face in delivering social care and the need for a long-term sustainable solution. That’s why we’re giving councils an extra £2 billion to help deliver these services, taking the total to £9.25 billion over the remainder of this Parliament.
“It’s also why we’re committed to having a fair and more sustainable way of funding adult social care for the future, especially given people are living longer. We’ll be setting out our proposals in a forthcoming green paper.”
Top Image: CQC Press Office
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