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Peers call for NHS-style free social care system and an extra £8bn to tackle funding crisis

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has challenged the two Tory leadership candidates to create an NHS-style free service in response to rapidly rising demand in social care.

Peers including former Conservative and Labour chancellors have called for an immediate £8bn investment in social care, to tackle the “national scandal” which left 1.4 million older people with unmet care needs last year.

The report suggests introducing free personal care in an NHS-style format which, despite likely proving more expensive than alternatives, will reduce demand for residential care and health care and encourage people to seek home care earlier.

The demand posed by an ageing society has put a huge strain on local government and NHS resources in recent years, and the government is due to release its heavily delayed adult social care green paper later this year.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, chairman of the committee, said: “Social care is severely underfunded. More than a million adults who need social care aren't receiving it, family and friends are being put under greater pressure to provide unpaid care, and the care workforce continues to be underpaid and undervalued.

READ MORE: Government must plug £3.6bn social care funding gap with tax rise, councils say

Lord Forsyth said the current system is “riddled with unfairness,” with someone suffering from dementia having to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for care, whilst someone with cancer is treated for free.

“The reduction in social care funding has been greatest in the most deprived areas. And local authorities can't afford to pay care providers a fair price, forcing providers to choose whether to market to those people who fund their own care or risk going bankrupt.

“Fixing underfunding is not difficult. The government needs to spend £8bn now to return quality and access in the system to an acceptable standard.”

The committee’s report calls on the government to produce a White Paper with “clear and plausible proposals” for sustainable adult social care.

The free NHS-based is one proposal it wants included in the White Paper, and it suggests that individuals should receive funding for impaired basic activities of daily living, based on the minimum threshold of eligible needs as defined by the Care Act.

Accommodation and living costs would continue to be met by individuals.

In response, the Department of Health and Social Care said local councils had been given up to £3.9bn more dedicated funding for adult social scare this year, and that it will set out plans to reform the social care system at the earliest opportunity.


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