Will Budget Bring More On Social Care?

Social care has once again been glossed over by the Government as it announces structural reforms to the NHS, ahead of an impending social care crisis.

The proposals, first announced by Matt Hancock last week, focus on structural changes such as getting rid of the tendering rule where companies bid to win NHS service contracts to encourage better collaboration between the NHS and councils.

The reforms will undo legislation introduced in 2012 by former Prime Minister David Cameron, with the current Government saying NHS staff found the rules cumbersome and costly.

Mr Hancock also said the Government was “committed to the reform of adult social care and will bring forward proposals this year”. Reform has been promised since 2017 when the social care green paper was first announced, but nothing has yet materialised.

Experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell say money would be better spent on the frontline of care, rather than focusing on restructuring existing systems.

Kelly Greig, partner and head of Later Life Planning at Irwin Mitchell said: “The proposed NHS reforms unfortunately focus on the wrong places instead of prioritising a head-to-toe reform of social care which is so desperately needed at this point.

“There are some glaring holes that, if addressed now, would transform the future of elderly care far more than any structure would. The first and most obvious is paying carers a fair wage in order to make the position attractive and to make sure elderly and vulnerable care home residents can be looked after to a high standard.

“The second is to have local authorities paying more for the beds and to make the pricing more consistent. This has a two-fold effect: the standard of care would be higher for those needing to rely on the local authority to provide for them – a sight all too common these days thanks to chronic underfunding – and gets rid of the ‘postcode lottery’ associated with social care.

“Finally, a widespread and national plan to introduce later life planning would only be a benefit to the Government and the wider public. Planning for later life care should be up there next to putting money in a pension – it’s around the same length of time and just an important with the elderly population crisis the UK is facing.”

Research from Irwin Mitchell and Cebr last year found that the social care ‘tipping point’ – ahead of when the care crisis would reach a head – was 2029, just eight years away.

The research also revealed how under the current social care system, many elderly people require the support of family and friends to help pay for care; 18% of adults with elderly loved ones getting care have helped to pay for it, with the average amount totalling £5900.

 The report also found a growing wealth gap when it comes to later life care, with only the top 10% of retired households by income being able to afford to pay for care using these funds.