The LGA has long campaigned for reform of our social care system and the long awaited white paper on care and support sets out a good platform for change. But it doesn’t go far enough.
While the government did commit to adopting the principles of the Dilnot Commission, that an individual’s lifetime contribution should be capped, we remain concerned that it has not addressed the reality of the funding pressures councils face.
The small pockets of much needed additional funding are welcome, but Whitehall must face the reality of what a modern social care system costs and they must address the current, and ever increasing, gap in funding.
The funding statement takes us no further forward in how a modern, stable and predictable social care system can be properly resourced and we fear that on the proposed timetable users and carers could face at least a further five years of uncertainty and hardship.
The LGA’s social care campaign, Show Us You Care, will continue to press these issues with government. As part of the campaign we’ve also launched a short survey which asks council chief executives, leaders, and members to share their views on whether the white paper will deliver.
The survey judges the white paper against the three key tests, as set out in our recent reference guide ‘Ripe for Reform: the sector agrees, now the public expects’.
Test one asks whether the white paper sets out proposals for a reformed system that is likely to improve people’s experience of care and support. The needs of the individual must come first and people should be given access to a simpler system that enhances choice, fosters quality services founded on dignity, supports the needs of an expanding workforce and promotes control over the care they receive.
This includes providing stability, predictability, transparency and encouraging the long-term view by implementing a cap on the amount of risk people will be exposed to when planning for their care costs and making the means-testing system fairer on those who have some assets.
There also needs to be sufficient funding that uses the totality of our resources and is appropriately directed now - until any reformed system is in place - to meet current pressure from our rapidly ageing population.
The second test asks if the white paper sets out a timetable for reform that recognises the urgency of the challenge and commits to immediate action where possible.
Finally, test three focuses on whether the white paper articulates a clear role for local government in a reformed system and recognises the importance of a local approach to care and support. From the perspective of local authorities, it is essential that the white paper recognises the role and value of local political leadership and decision making.
It needs to balance national inputs with local flexibility, to support local decisions about the services that are delivered to meet the local needs and the amount that should be paid for them. It needs to makes appropriate links with health and wellbeing boards, with councils taking a lead role in single commissioning with pooled budgets for appropriate client groups. Finally it must set out clearly defined relationships between councils and other key partners.
The survey will be available on the LGA’s website until the end of August and gives the sector an opportunity to inform the LGA response.
For the survey and more information on our campaign please visit www.local.gov.uk/social-care-campaign