'Complete re-set' needed for social care, a year on from Boris Johnson's pledge to fix it

A “complete re-set” is needed for a sustainable future social care system, a coalition of councils, charities and health organisations has today warned.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waving outside 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to become Prime Minister and form a new government in July 2019. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

One year after the Prime Minister pledged to set out a clear plan to “fix social care”, the group has urged the Government to publish its timetable for social care reform before Parliament returns from recess in September.

It comes just two days after councils in Yorkshire used this newspaper to call on the Government to provide a sustainable long-term funding solution for adult social care as a matter of urgency. An investigation by The Yorkshire Post revealed that the funding gap for just eight of the 15 regional councils with social care responsibilities amounted to more than £80m this year – and the extra burden caused by the pandemic has seen that more than double to £190m,

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The Local Government Association (LGA), along with 30 other organisations including the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and more than 30 other organisations, have urged for major change in care provision, including “adequate and sustainable funding and supporting the care workforce”.

They say a “radical rethink” on social care is needed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Government working closely with councils to take into account any lessons learnt during the crisis, and extra funding not only to meet the costs of coronavirus, but to meet the funding gap, which the LGA say will reach almost £4 billion nationally by 2025.

Chairman of the LGA, Coun James Jamieson, said: “For too long we have been promised a plan to fix the social care crisis but people who use and work in these vital services are still waiting. The Covid-19 crisis has proved that we need a complete reset, not a restart, when it comes to the future of social care.

“The pandemic has also served to highlight the incredibly valuable role of social care in its own right and why it is more important than ever before that we find a long-term and sustainable solution, so that people of all ages can live the life they want to lead.”

Care and support, Coun Jamieson said, should be “properly based around every individual”, allowing them to live independently as long as possible, and that cross-party talks on the future of adult social care should begin as soon as possible.

A Government spokesperson said it recognised the challenges facing the sector and was doing everything it can to support it. He added: “We know that there is a need for a long-term solution for social care, and will bring forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing to ensure the reforms will last long into the future.”

Meanwhile, post-coronavirus social care should be based on the “gold-standard”, a skills body has said, as it revealed that more than half a million extra social care workers will be needed over the next 15 years.

A new report by Leeds-based charity Skills for Care, which uses data from 20,000 frontline employers, showed the number of people working in adult social care across is now 1.52m - but will need to increase by 520,000 by 2035.

Skills for Care chief executive Oonagh Smyth said: “This report is a reminder of the vital role our growing workforce will play in any future reform of our sector and their skills, knowledge and commitment to person centred care will support people to live the lives they want to.”