Social care reform proposals pose more questions than answers

Stephen Chandler, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) president, discusses the proposed adult social care reforms.

ADASS has welcomed that the government’s decision to break the 25-year silence on adult social care reform. However, we have searched hard for any details that are meaningful.

We have been left perplexed and concerned that the proposals pose more questions than answers. There is a promise to develop a White Paper for reforming adult social care which ‘will commence a once in a generation transformation to adult social care’ but we can find no funding commitments to make that happen.

It is not clear how this is consistent with what has been publicly promised and look forward to hearing more.

We require urgent clarification about what is being promised and what this means for people with care and support needs. We have two primary concerns.

First, the announcement provides no additional funding to enable us to deal with the overwhelming workforce pressures and increased levels of need that we are experiencing right now and going into what is likely to be one of the most challenging winters on record.

These pressures were again vividly illustrated by our latest rapid member survey.

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Second, beyond the welcome announcements on the social care cap and means-testing, it is not clear that there is any new money for adult social care to help improve care and support from April 1st next year.

What older and disabled people, carers and care workers need is a clear statement about the funding that will be available right now to see us through an incredibly difficult winter, for next year, and beyond.

This has been billed as a big social care announcement, but beyond the implementation of a cap on individuals’ personal financial contributions and a raising of the lower limit of when people are charged in the future (the implementation of Part 2 of the Care Act), the additional money is all going to address issues in the health service.

Unless there is something significant added, very little, if any, of the £36bn that has been announced is ever likely to make it to adult social care budgets via the NHS.

It will not add a single minute of extra care and support, or improve the quality of life for older people, disabled people and unpaid carers. That leaves few options.

Further council tax rises, which risk local people feeling that they are being asked to pay twice? More people giving up work to care? Disabled people going without even more vital care and support?

The risk is that this becomes just another in a long line of promises.

Photo Credit – Headway


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