Stakeholders have issued a damning verdict on the Government’s response to the CMA’s investigation of the care home market.
Vic Rayner, NCF Executive Director, said the Government’s statement was “limited on action”, while Cllr Linda Thomas, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said the Government had oversimplified the social care crisis.
In a statement earlier this week, the Government broadly accepted the conclusions of the CMA market study, which was published in November (see BREAKING NEWS: CMA finds £1bn care funding shortfall).
Reacting to the Government response, Vic said: “We are once again told that the Green Paper will address all of the long term concerns around market sustainability, but this will feel like cold comfort for providers who felt that the CMA report accurately reflected the fragility of the market right here, right now.”
While welcoming the Government’s advocacy of consumer empowerment, Vic added: “The Government response is right to strengthen this requirement, but it must ensure that this happens for all consumers, whether paying for their own care, or having it funded through the local authority.
“It is not clear from the existing proposals that there is any recognition or ambition to address the differential contractual terms that can exist between local authority and self-funding contracts. Yet current local authority contracts can limit an individual’s ability to exercise choice and control.”
Cllr Thomas, meanwhile, labelled the Government’s assertion that it expected to see an increase in fee levels paid to providers as a result of an extra £9.4bn made available to the sector over three years, as a “serious oversimplification of the situation facing adult social care”.
The councillor said: “Councils may ‘have access to’ increased funding, but each component part is not without its issues.”
She said the Government had shifted the burden of tackling a national crisis onto councils and their residents.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, meanwhile, welcomed the Government’s recognition of its work with Healthwatch England in improving complaints handling within the sector.
He called on the Government to introduce statutory signposting at the earliest opportunity.
Earlier this week, Care England CEO Martin Green said the Government’s response had been “short on detail” (see Care England says Government CMA response “short on detail”).