Government urged to address ‘shameful policy failure’ of social care system

The Government must invest £7.5 billion a year over the next four years to address the “shameful policy failure” of the social care system, the Health Foundation said.

More than half – £4.4 billion – should be used to stabilise the system by increasing staff pay in line with the NHS and meeting future demand, the charity said in a new report.

The remaining £3.1 billion should go towards capping individuals’ lifetime care costs at £46,000 which would alleviate fears around losing homes and assets to pay for care.

The Health Foundation warned the amount was the “bare minimum”, and would like to see the Government increase eligibility for social care.

Charles Tallack, assistant director for health and social care sustainability and one of the report authors, said: “The current social care system in England is a shameful policy failure which is compounding the suffering of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The number of people unable to get the care they need for things like washing and dressing is increasing; care providers are going out of business and, faced with the possibility of catastrophic costs, many people are fearful of the future.

“The new government must start addressing this systematic failure by stabilising the market, boosting staff pay and putting in place reforms that limit the costs for those most in need.

“This would be a welcome start but we urge the Government to go further and expand access to state-funded care by reducing the threshold at which people are eligible for care.

“Successive governments have ducked the need for reform for too long, but a solution is within reach.

“An additional £7.5 billion by 2023/24 is relatively affordable, representing less than 1% of total government spending.

“By taking advantage of policies already on the statute books, the Government can act quickly and create a system that is fit for the future.”

The Health Foundation said increased taxation would be an “obvious route” towards a fairer and more generous system.

Rehana Azam, national secretary of the GMB union, said : “Our social care system isn’t just in crisis – it’s fallen apart. Years of unbroken promises has left thousands of elderly and vulnerable people social care needs unmet.

“A third of carers leave the profession every year while funding is woefully behind what is needed.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We have given local authorities access to nearly £4 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410 million is available for adults and children’s services.

“The Prime Minister is committed to fixing the social care system and we will outline proposals in due course.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Joe Giddens / PA Wire.

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