This publication does not seek to revisit the many issues captured in our green paper and subsequent response to our consultation. Instead, it is a chance to further understand – from different helpful perspectives – the current challenges facing adult social care and support and what is needed to make progress. However, there is merit in restating why this debate is important in making clear the inherent value of adult social care and support in its own right.
Our consultation showed that value manifests itself in numerous ways. Some people who responded to our consultation spoke about care and support as a moral responsibility, the hallmark of a civilised society and an issue of human rights. Others talked about social care playing a key role in enabling people to regain and maintain their dignity. Linked to this, one subset of respondents defined the importance of adult social care in helping people to enjoy the best quality of life, including their participation in, and contribution to, society. And other people talked in terms of social care’s wider contribution to society, particularly its economic contribution. The common thread across all responses is that adult social care and support matters because people’s lives, and the communities in which they live, matter.
In July 2018 the Government said its long-awaited green paper on adult social care would be published by the end of the year. In December 2018, with no green paper in sight, the Government said publication would be at the earliest opportunity. One month later, the Secretary of State for Health said it was their intention to publish by April 2019. In April 2019, the Minister for Care said the green paper would be brought forward as soon as possible.
We cannot carry on like this. Securing the long-term future of adult social care and support should be a national priority, but without a green paper – which is only ever the start of a process of debate and deliberation towards more concrete proposals – it continues to be a national concern.
As the delay has continued over the past year, many organisations and individuals frustrated by perpetual postponement have stepped in to fill the void and keep the debate alive.
The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry on
‘Social care funding in England’.
Two new All Party Parliamentary Groups have been established on adult social care. One has commenced its work by looking at the professionalisation of social care workers. The other is conducting an inquiry on the future of adult social care in England.
More than 200 search results on Hansard for ‘social care green paper’, including:
- October 2018: House of Commons
debate on social care funding
- October 2018: House of Lords debate on personal social care funding
- January 2019: House of Commons debate on the NHS Long Term Plan
- January 2019: ministerial written statement on social care
- April 2019: House of Commons debate on local government and social care funding
- May 2019: House of Lords debate on social care green paper.
- The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry on ‘Social care funding in England’.
- Two new All Party Parliamentary Groups have been established on adult social care. One has commenced its work by looking at the professionalisation of social care workers. The other is conducting an inquiry on the future of adult social care in England.
In the media
- BBC’s Panorama programme has screened a two part documentary looking at adult social care in Somerset. It explores the scale of the pressures facing Somerset County Council, the difficult decisions that have had to be made and their consequences.
- There has been extensive coverage of the challenges facing two leading care providers – Allied Healthcare and Four Seasons Health Care.
- The media has continued to cover the potential impacts of the UK’s departure from the European Union on social care, particularly the care workforce.
- There was good coverage of a Which? report highlighting how only one in 10 adults aged over 55 have set aside money to cover the costs of any future care needs
- There was wide coverage of Age UK research showing that loneliness is likely to affect two million over-50s by 2026.
- A Healthwatch report warning that more needs to be done to support unpaid carers was widely covered.
In the sector
- The health sector has come together under the ‘Health for Care’ coalition to make the case for a sustainable, long-term settlement for social care.
- Independent Age has published a report renewing their call for free personal care. They argue this would help tackle the issue of people facing catastrophic care costs.
- The IPPR has also published a report making the case for free personal care in England.
- Policy Exchange published a report making the case for social care to be financed mainly out of general taxation and for complex, long-term care to be largely free at the point of need.
- Rt Hon Damian Green MP and the Centre for Policy Studies have published a report proposing a ‘state pension model’ for adult social care by introducing a ‘universal care element’ which would guarantee everyone a decent standard of care, with a ‘care supplement’ for people who can pay for more expensive care on top.
- The eleven ‘independent experts’ invited by the Government back in 2017 to provide advice in advance of the green paper have written a public letter, published in The Telegraph, on their “despair” at 20 years’ of failure to deal with the issue of social care funding. They call for, “a new approach whereby the essential costs of care are universally funded and risk is shared across the whole population in a similar way to the NHS”.
- Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has a written an opinion piece in The Independent about the “decades of failure” to resolve the social care funding question. He suggests that, “A progressive tax – perhaps on income in retirement, perhaps on housing, perhaps on inheritance – to fund a social insurance system would be much ‘fairer’ on most definitions of that word”.