Following his election, Boris Johnson told us that he had a plan for fixing social care so, the reference in the Queen's speech that proposals on social care reform "will be brought forward" is welcome news. But what is the plan and what about the financial investment needed?
The Government’s failure to properly address the long-term funding issues affecting the social care sector, or any detail of the plans being shared since the election in 2019, calls into question Boris Johnson's statement that he had a plan.
We’re already seeing care providers having to assess the viability of their services following cuts from local authorities that are responsible for commissioning care services. In particular, we are seeing the first signs that local authorities have taken the Supreme Court’s decision on sleep-in shifts in March 2021 as a sign to decrease their funding for sleep-ins – citing a need to find a sustainable rate. This all points to the bigger issue that the Government does not appear to want to recognise that immediate financial investment is needed and that means we may all need to accept a bigger tax bill.
The Government already missed an opportunity to properly address this in its March Budget, despite care providers continuing to operate high-quality services during one of the most challenging periods ever experienced by the sector.
This process must start by the Government increasing its investment and providing the funding local authorities need to maintain healthy care markets, as a matter of urgency. This is critical to enabling providers to remunerate their staff appropriately for the work they do, maintaining financially feasible services of a high standard. This should include a proper framework for social care pay comparable to the structures in place in the NHS.
Care providers and workers play an invaluable role in delivering statutory care services and supporting vulnerable people in the UK. The Government has to realise this and supply the resources required to secure the long-term future of the social care sector.
Proposals on social care reform "will be brought forward,"