Government must seize opportunity to strengthen social care

The opportunity to shore up the fragile social care system must not be overlooked in the forthcoming autumn budget, according to a new report on the impact of decades of underfunding.

A stitch in time: the case for funding social care issued today by VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group), representing over 90 leading not-for-profit organisations supporting disabled people, describes the growing threat to the nation’s vital care and support services.

Voluntary and not-for-profit providers predominantly serve publicly-funded clients so are disproportionately affected by adult social care budget cuts. Local authorities’ planned savings for adult social care in 2018/19 are £700m, cumulative adult social care savings since 2010 have amounted to £7bn, and the government has yet again postponed its Green Paper on the long-term funding plan for adult social care.

Brexit exacerbates the threat to social care because the likely economic impact may lead to less public funding and potentially create instability in the sector’s labour market.

The report also stresses the knock on affect on the NHS of a failure to focus on social care as a national priority, reiterating VODG’s longstanding offer to collaborate with government on long-term funding strategies.

A stitch in time outlines a series of actions for government, including:

  • identifying a long term and sustainable funding solution for adult social care to cover working age disabled adults and older people
  • ensuring that where local councils are in serious financial difficulties, such as Northamptonshire, appropriate central government inspection is applied to ensure that statutory duties in relation to social care are actually being fully met in line with the Care Act 2014
  • instructing HMRC to permanently suspend the retrospective action to recover underpayment of NLW for sleep-in work from employers
  • build more accessible and adaptable homes and improve the installation of home adaptations.

VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said:

“Social care is a vital public service but is a victim of a triple whammy of squeezed funding, increasing demand and increasing costs. This impacts on disabled people and adversely affects other public sector services such as the NHS. Our ageing and growing population means there’s a growing need for social care for disabled and older people. It’s not too late for government to improve the fragile state of the adult social care system and to safeguard existing and future support for people who rely on care services.”