Government must improve support for care sector to ‘Build Back Better’
Care England has called for improved government support for social care and put forward a series of recommendations to help ‘Build Back Better’.
In an appeal to the government to involve providers in plans for health and social care reform, Care England have published How to Build Back Better on 8 November. The document outlines the membership’s key asks and concerns in relation to the government’s plans for the sector.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England and Integrated Care Journal Editorial Advisory Board Member, said: “The [government’s] plan must adequately underpin the sector’s potential to support some of society’s most vulnerable.
“We are keen to work with government to find a long-term sustainable solution for the sector, but are concerned that the £5.4 billion announced in September for adult social care over the next three years through the Health and Social Care Levy, as well as the £4.8 billion of new grant funding over the SR21 period for social care and other services, will not be enough to achieve the ambitions set out by Government”.
The Government’s plan aims to secure the future sustainability of the NHS and social care, primarily through the introduction of a Health and Social Care Levy. This is to be supplemented by a White Paper, due this year, to set out reform proposals for adult social care, as well as integration between health and social care.
Care England’s How to Build Back Better document outlines key recommendations and concerns in relation to the Plan. It also aims to ensure the voice of providers is heard clearly throughout the development and implementation of government reform.
Professor Green continues: “We hope that our key asks will represent an opportunity for meaningful co-production, all of which must be underpinned by adequate funding for the proposals, wider support for the workforce and parity with the NHS on National Insurance that only national government can address”.
Care England has summarised their ideas on How to Build Back Better into 10 key asks:
- A fair cost of care needs to be paid that promotes continued inward investment to ensure a sustainable system fit for the 21st century.
- As part of a fair cost of care, it must be recognised that funding needs to increase for adult social care providers to ensure the system promotes fairness for the individual, the taxpayer, the local authority and the NHS.
- The £5.4 billion announced in September for adult social care over the next three years through the Health and Social Care Levy, as well as the £4.8 billion of new grant funding over the SR21 period for social care and other services, will not be enough to achieve the ambitions set out by the Government.
- By focusing of the planned Levy over the next 3 years for the NHS directly, the health service will not see the benefits of a strong social care sector and will continue to feel these unnecessary pressures, fuelling an expensive NHS-centric cycle of acute care. ”
- Adult social care providers, as well as employees, will need to pay significant sums in increased National Insurance (NI) contributions, without providing the ability for providers to offset the increase, putting financial sustainability under further strain.
- The £86,000 cap does not come into force for another two years and so is of little benefit to the majority of current care home residents, nor does it cover hotel or accommodation costs. Further detail about the cap is required, including: How is the cost of a weekly fee going to be split; What does it really mean; Who will benefit; What flexibility will independent providers have to set fees? and is there a fixed ‘go-live’ date?
- Although £500 million for the adult social care workforce is welcome, it is part of, not extra to, the £5.4 billion allocation. Workforce development is going to cost far beyond a single £500 million allocation; broad estimates suggest the allocation translates into £100 per care worker over three years. If uplifts in fees are not provided, how can staff be recruited, compensated and rewarded?
- An adult social care workforce strategy must extend beyond three years. This needs to the first of many steps in order to better align social care with the NHS Workforce Plan.
- It is vital that the Adult Social Care Reform White Paper and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) include plans and funds to improve pay and conditions, as well as training opportunities, for people working across the care sector in order to address the recruitment and retention issues in the long-term.
- The White Paper must also look to tackle the issues which the plan has seemingly overlooked including innovation and investment, unmet need and digital transformation within the sector.
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