Funding for social care only half the issue, say organisations

Mike Padgham runs Saint Cecilia’s Care Group

Care providers have given a cautious welcome to news the government is considering an increase in national insurance to pay for social care reform.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) said it was pleased a solution to social care funding was edging closer but warned staffing was the biggest issue currently facing providers.

It was reported in The Daily Telegraph the government is considering an increase in national insurance to fund social care, and that an announcement could be made next week.

‘This is positive news and an indication that social care reform could at last be on the way,’ said ICG chair Mike Padgham.

‘We have long campaigned for better funding for social care and believe that people would be prepared to pay a little more in taxation or national insurance, or a combination of both, in return for a properly-funded, fair social care system.

‘At the same time, this can only be the very start of reform and has to be a part of a root and branch overhaul of the system to make it fit for purpose. At the moment the crisis in social care staffing is at the uppermost of providers’ minds as they struggle to get enough staff to cover their shifts.’

Social Care Institute for Excellence chief executive Kathryn Smith called on the government to publish its full proposals for adult social care.

Kathryn Smith, SCIE’s chief executive

‘The promise to fix social care must be fulfilled so that the reforms the sector badly needs are prioritised and addressed,’ Smith said.

‘A sustained increase in funding is needed now to stabilise the care system, particularly with the impact of Covid-19. But simply stabilising the system will not be enough to meet the growing the demand for social care or to support better care.

‘Improvements will only come from a long-term strategy. We should be thinking about how to scale up the innovation we’re seeing in some places, and how to develop a passionate workforce with the right skills and flexibility.’

Vic Rayner, National Care Forum chief executive, said that it was vital any proposals provided long-term ambition rather than quick fixes.

‘The wait for social care reform has been far too long,’ Rayner said. ‘We owe it to everyone who receives care and support now and will need it in the future to have a social care system that can be a source of individual and national pride. To get there we need an ambitious reform agenda with people at the heart of it and underpinned by sustainability, innovation and investment in the incredible workforce. The government must act now to prioritise social care.’

Jane Townson, UKHCA chief executive

Welcoming the news, United Kingdom Homecare Association’s chief executive Jane Townson said reform should not be focused solely on avoiding the sale of houses to pay for care homes.

‘We need investment in meeting people’s needs and helping us all to live well at home. Key to this is investing in our homecare workforce, ensuring they are well-trained and fairly rewarded for their skill and experience,’ she said. ‘We also need investment in innovation.

‘The government needs to have an honest conversation with the electorate about how our health and care needs can be met now and in the future. This is a high priority for everyone, and we are clearly not coping at present.’

The government has said it will publish its plans before the end of the year.