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Dinenage 'fed up' with social care being NHS's poor relation

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The care minister has said she is “fed up” with social care being treated as a “poor relation” of the NHS and did not rule out tax rises being part of a funding solution in the forthcoming adult social care green paper.

Caroline Dinenage also told delegates at the National Children and Adult Services Conference today that parts of the green paper would be “extremely green” but added the government has “no choice” but to establish a long-term sustainable settlement for social care to address “multiple and multiplying challenges”.

Following her seech this morning, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board Ian Hudspeth (Con) questioned Ms Dinenage on whether the green paper would consider changes to national taxation to fund social care, as recommended in the LGA’s response to its own green paper.

She did not directly answer the question but she said social care funding had for too long “been placed on the too-difficult pile” by successive governments due to it being used as a “political football” with references to proposed “death” and “dementia” taxes.

Ms Dinenage said: “We just can’t do that anymore. Time is not on our side.

“The green paper will definitely look at a sustainable future of how we fund adult social care. Some of it will be extremely green.

“There will be a series of options open to consultation and we want to try to move forward in a consensual way.”

Ms Dinenage said other parts of the green paper would include measures “that can change the system in a more urgent way”, having previously highlighted workforce pressures, the use of technology and prevention.

Referring to recent funding pledges for adult social care, including the extra £240m specifically for adult social care in 2019-20 announced by the chancellor in the Budget, she said it was significant that the money would be paid directly to councils.

Ms Dinenage added: “For too long… social care has been the poor relation of the health service. We know the two are umbilically linked; we know that one drives cost to the other.

“I am absolutely fed up with social care being described through the lens of the NHS; through the lens of saying what we can do to support it, what we can do to stop driving cost to it, but we have to be seen as equal partners with equal value in our own right.”

Delegates responded with warm applause.

Ms Dinenage also announced that funding for the carer innovations fund, launched in the summer to promote support for unpaid carers, would increase from £0.5m to £5m, saying this was something she had “fought really hard for”.

The care minister also announced nine councils which would receive money from the social care digital innovation fund.

These are:

  • Bracknell Forest Council
  • Havering LBC
  • Isle of Wight Council
  • Lincolnshire CC
  • Nottingham City Council
  • Shropshire Council
  • Stockport MBC
  • Sunderland City Council
  • Wirral MBC

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