MPs raise concerns over the future of social care

Members of the Health Select Committee have raised grave concerns over the future of social care in the UK.

A report by MPs found councils were having to raise eligibility criteria in order to maintain social care services to those in greatest need, despite Government assurances.

It reports that the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services found 82% of councils are only providing care to those whose needs are assessed as ‘significant’ or higher. The committee’s own survey of local authorities revealed that 63% were reducing social care budgets by an average of 6.6%.

The report states: ‘Many local authorities had increased their charges for services, either moderately or substantially between 2010 and 2011.

‘For example, 35% had increased their maximum personal charge for social care, 38% had increased their charges for residential care, and 49% had increased their charges for non-residential care items such as hourly rate for home help.’

Councils and NHS organisations must also set out how the integration of health and social care services will benefit patients, the MPs conclude.

The report echoed the recent conclusions of the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, which claimed the health and social care integration should be a priority. However, members of the health committee found ‘precious little evidence of the urgency the issue demands’.

Meanwhile, the Health and Social Care Bill – currently going through parliament –’continues to complicate the push for efficiency gains’.

Launching the report, committee chair Stephen Dorrell MP said: ‘The NHS is well used to management change. In reality the key pressures which are building in the system arise from the fact that demand is continuing to grow at a time when health and social care budgets have stopped growing.

‘The need to provide high-quality and efficient services that meet local needs within the funding available must be addressed as a matter of urgency. This requirement underlies the importance of developing new structures which deliver genuinely integrated services.’