A View From Westminster: Social Care

Dignified care in old age should be a right for all of us. With an ageing population, this is one of the biggest challenges our country faces. We have to make sure this country works for everyone and that the most vulnerable in society gain the support they need. To this end I am happy to note that over 4 out of 5 people receive care from good and outstanding organisations, according to the Care Quality Commission, though there are certainly more improvements to be made.

But the Government recognises the current pressures facing local areas. Since 2015 local authorities have had greater flexibility over the use of the council tax social care precept, so they can choose to raise extra money as well as retain savings from the New Homes Bonus, totalling £240 million. In 2017, the Chancellor committed an additional £2 billion to councils in England over three years to spend on adult social care services. Councils will have access in total to £9.25 billion more dedicated funding for social care over the three years from 2015, and this has been further supported by an additional £150 million from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this year. This means that over the next three years Devon Local Authority is expected to receive £30.3 million of that additional £2 billion funding announced for social care in the spring 2017 Budget. There is also additional funding for the Disabled Facilities Grant in 2017-18, to support people with disabilities stay in their own homes throughout their care.   

But money alone will not fix the problem and reform is needed to encourage high standards everywhere.  It is vital for us to consider ways of better joining up health and care services, and I am encouraged by the use of the Better Care Fund to assist local government and the NHS with the implementation of integrated health and care services.

The Government is currently producing a Green Paper, which will establish a new social care policy for the future. I acknowledge that there have been many consultations into care policy over the years; however, I believe that the upcoming Green Paper will usher in a real cultural change into how we care for the elderly and vulnerable.