A House of Lords report has called for an immediate £8bn injection to restore quality to the adult social care system.
The report, Social care funding: time to end a national scandal, also urges the government to introduce free personal care, funded by general taxation, over a period of five years.
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, said: “Fixing underfunding is not difficult. The government needs to spend £8bn now to return quality and access in the system to an acceptable standard. Fixing unfairness is more complicated, but the government has ducked the question for too long.”
The Lords committee report says publically funded social care is shrinking due to lower budgets forcing local authorities to limit the number of people receiving support.
Funding has been slashed by £700m since 2010/11 despite growing demand, with 400,000 people falling out of the means test, which has not increased with inflation since 2010.
The Committee proposes bringing the social care system closer to the NHS model by introducing free personal care for support, including help with washing, dressing or cooking.
The proposal would cost £7bn per year, according to the Health Foundation and the King’s Fund, or £2bn more than the government’s 2017 ‘cap and floor’ proposal.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, said: “The message is clear for the future Prime Minister – adult social care is domestic priority number one – and the combined voices of local government, providers of care and the workforce, members of the House of Lords, parliamentarians from across the parties and people receiving care and support and their carers demand action now.”
Charles Armitage, CEO at Florence, added: “The government’s been consistently delaying presenting a long-term vision on social care funding. Is bringing social care under the NHS’s wing and providing a free-at-the-point-of-need service the answer? Is it even viable? I would question why we are perpetually stuck in this debate as opposed to rolling out a plan of action. Rather than rhetoric in response to the latest news story, I’d like to see the prime ministerial hopefuls show a genuine, purposeful commitment to creating and acting on a lasting plan for social care funding.”
Stephen Lowe, communications director at Just Group, commented: “This report is evidence that patience is running out with the government on reforming the adult social care system in England. Its call for £8bn a year immediate extra funding and free personal care for those who need it shows that the longer we put off decisions the more radical the solutions that are likely to be needed.”