A new report published this week by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee has recommended that the Government allocate billions of additional funding for social care.
Funding for social care has been a long burning issue and has increasingly played a major role in party manifestos – think of Theresa May’s ill-fated 2017 social care policy. These are concerns of an increasingly aging population and has particular relevance to the current pandemic, which has further turbocharged adult social care funding and the indispensable role that social care workers play into the national consciousness.
Around 1.5 million people work in adult social care according to research, and a third of those worker are on zero-hour contracts. And inevitably due to the challenging nature of the job and unsatisfactory pay, the sector experiences a high staff turnover with 440,000 leaving their job each year - with a third of that leaving the sector altogether creating a position deficit of 8%.
According to OECD data funding for social care in the UK is relatively low, with the UK being below the EU-14 average for share of GDP spent on social care. And especially in England, as social care spending is a devolved matter, which is shown by breaking down the amount spent per person - the Health Foundation estimates that in 2017-18 England spent £324 pp, Wales £424 pp, and Scotland £446 pp.
A new deal for social care
As social care is not free at the point of use, unlike the NHS, people who have modest savings or own their own property are required to drain their savings and potentially sell their homes to fund their care or their partners.
The Local Government Association told the committee that these experiences were connected to the dramatic decrease during the last decade of council funding, and that individuals who may have been previously eligible for Government-funded care are now having to self-fund, rely on family or go without.
Concerning this matter disable activist Kevin Caufield, of the Disable People’s Commission of Hammersmith and Fulham, told the inquiry that: “It absolutely cannot be acceptable in the 21st century that people are falling into debt to pay for the support that they need and end up in the legal system as a result.”
To address this growing issue, and asides from the extra funding necessary for Covid-19, the report contains estimates of a series of annual funding increases based on what coverage they would offer. Which include:
- £1.4 bn to ensure that all staff are paid the Real Living Wage (£9.30 and £10.75 in London)
- £2.1 bn to keep with increased demand
- £3.9 bn to further increase pay in relation to the National Living Wage with a pay increase of 5% in line with NHS staff
- £4.4 bn to meet demand and increase care provision by 10%
- £5.5 bn to provide local authorities with additional funding to pay higher costs of care packages
- £8 bn to restore care quality to 2009-10 standards
- £12.2 bn to recover peak spending levels and cover pay increases.