Social care worker helping woman walk down stairs

Failure to act on social care in Queen’s Speech will be ‘bitter blow’

Failure to act on securing the future of adult social care as the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic will be a ‘bitter blow’ to the millions of people who draw on and work in these vital services, a cross-party group of council leaders have said.

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech setting out the legislative agenda for the next year, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Chairman and political group leaders have signed a letter to Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

It calls for promised proposals on the future of care and support to be published so that people are best supported to live the lives they want to lead.
 
An exclusive new poll of MPs commissioned by the LGA shows an overwhelming majority (83%) are in favour of additional funding for councils’ social care budgets to tackle the funding gap.

The letter, copied to Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick and Care Minister, Helen Whately, also says the approach of one-off government grants and the social care council tax precept are only ‘sticking plaster solutions’ which prevent longer-term planning.

The signatories state that for the government to finally make good on its promise to ‘fix social care’, with three things are needed:

  • Investment: Move from a model of wellbeing based on care homes and hospitalisation to a broader offer that enables people to live their own lives independently in their own homes and communities, in appropriate accommodation and with the right level of support. This letter said that preventative approach would be better for people and for the NHS by preventing or delaying the need for someone to go into hospital. They also state, as a significant employer, investment in social care is also an investment in local economies.
     
  • No more sticking plasters: Confine to history the approach of additional one-off grants and, in particular, the adult social care precept to fund social care. The LGA states that while helpful, they are only ever sticking plaster solutions which are unsustainable and depending on council tax is not the solution.
     
  • Long-term funding: A solution for bringing more money into social care which matches the level of ambition needed to have for the future of care and support, beyond just protecting people from having to sell their home to pay for care, as important as that is the letter states. The LGA argues that the case should be made for increases in national taxation and/or a social care premium based on universal risk pooling.

Commenting, LGA Chairman, Councillor James Jamieson said: “Social care has been on the frontline throughout the pandemic and councils have done all they can to protect and manage these vital services, while dealing with severe funding pressures for several years.

“In particular, the last 12 months have proven their ability to respond to changing demands and needs under the most difficult of circumstances.

“The decisions on social care funding and reform in the coming weeks will potentially impact both the millions of people who draw on or work in care and support now, and the many millions more who will do so in the decades ahead.

“Our latest poll of MPs demonstrates the broad support across parliament for additional funding for councils’ social care budgets.

“All of us in local government, across the political divide, want to see the Queen’s Speech finally set out the plans we have been waiting for and make good on the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘fix social care’, once and for all.

“This is about an investment in people, in all of us. A failure to act will be a bitter blow to everyone connected to social care.”

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