A new MPs’ committee report has warned that social care is underfunded and in urgent need of reform.
The report by the Public Accounts Committee says the pandemic’s “devastating impact on the care sector” has emphasised that “care is not properly funded, lacks transparency and urgently needs reform”.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “Carers, younger and older adults needing care, and home care have seen decades of neglect, and the 1.5 million who work in care deserve much better. The reforms to address this now must include a long-term funding plan that allows local authorities and providers to innovate and improve services. We cannot afford more broken commitments on care.”
The report says the decline in care home occupancy from 90% to 80% by February 2021 had put many care providers at risk of failure but DHSC has “poor oversight of the system and seems complacent about the risks of local market failure”.
While welcoming government short-term support to providers, the Committee said it was vital that DHSC clearly and in detail “sets out how it will help providers move beyond it”, adding the current system “does not work for local authorities or those paying for their own care”.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said: “This hard hitting report makes it absolutely crystal clear that reform is not only necessary but essential. We hope that the Government will adhere to the excellent recommendations and ensure that social care gets the attention it deserves, it is not just a case of money but system review. Social care is linked intrinsically with the NHS and it is therefore futile focusing on one and not the other.”
Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not for profit care providers, added: “The timing of the report is very pertinent, as it recognises the intense financial pressure that providers face, and the need for the Government to lay out the vital support needed to comply with Government guidance in a manner that will enable care providers to plan and prepare for the ongoing challenges that COVID-19 presents to those running care services.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have sought to protect everyone working in the social care sector or receiving social care, particularly older people who are more vulnerable to the virus, and have provided almost £1.8 billion for the sector, including infection prevention, control measures and prioritised the sector for the vaccine.
“As previously announced, the Health and Care Bill will introduce plans to develop and support improved adult social care oversight across England.
“We are committed to sustainable improvement of the adult social care system and, as affirmed in the Queen’s Speech, we will bring forward proposals later this year to ensure every person receives the care they need, provided with the dignity they deserve.”