Social care reforms 'leave sector with scraps and fail to help poorest', warns new research

Social care reforms funded by increases in National Insurance will only leave the sector with “scraps” and do little to realise the levelling up agenda, a thinktank has warned.

Boris Johnson outlined reforms to the way social care is funded earlier this month.

A new report by the Centre for Progressive Policy has warned the quality of social care provision is worse in deprived places, with over 40 per cent of adults in poorer areas having unmet care needs compared to 19 per cent in the richest parts of the country.

The report says that due to the £86,000 cap on the cost of personal care being introduced, the Government’s social care reforms “will do more to support the assets of those with higher levels of wealth than those with moderate wealth who may have been deterred from using care in the past due to high costs”.

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Its research shows that people in Yorkshire will be among the hardest hit nationally from paying for social care - with the average person in the region losing more than 40 per cent of their assets after three years in residential care compared to under 20 per cent in the South East under the new system.

The report says the changes are “not the most conducive to levelling up” and the increase in National Insurance will in fact cost the sector more than £100m per year in extra employer contributions.

It said the Government should look beyond earnings taxes and consider targeting possible revenue from wealthier pensioners in London and the South East.

Ben Franklin, Head of Research for Centre for Progressive Policy, said: “The current social care system is a force for levelling down rather than levelling up and the government’s reforms will not change this.

“Presently, the costs of the system fall heaviest on those least able to bear them – poorer people in communities where unmet social care needs are higher and where the burden of providing care can result in a further cut to household income as informal carers are forced out of work or to reduce their hours.

“While the government has committed to putting more money into social care, it is focussed on capping care costs which will disproportionately benefit the asset-rich most able to bare the financial burden of care in London and the South East. The sector will ultimately be left with scraps in order to improve the quality of care and increase accessibility for poorer people and places. It will do little to support levelling up.

“With the Levelling Up White Paper and Spending Review around the corner, the government must ensure it is clear how all policies will contribute to its ‘flagship’ policy agenda rather than undermining it.”

The CPP said of the £5.4bn in additional funding announced by the Government, only £500m is allocated to professionalising the workforce, recruitment and retention. Spread out over three years that works out at £108 per care worker per year. If the money was just focused on recruitment it would be equivalent to just 11,000 extra care workers a year, yet 149,000 workers left the sector in 2019/20.

Ombudsman finding problems in two out of three social care cases

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found problems in nearly two out of every three adult social care complaints it has investigated in the past year, the watchdog has revealed.

The Ombudsman’s Annual Review of Adult Social Care Complaints has revealed it is investigating a greater proportion of complaints than previous years – and finding fault on average in 66 per cent of cases.

In some casework areas – including those about fees and charging for care – the Ombudsman has upheld nearly three-quarters of investigations (73 per cent).

Stephen Chandler, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services President, said: “Whenever older and disabled people, carers and families do not experience the high-quality care and support that they expect, it is essential that their concerns are listened to and addressed.

“We welcome this report. The Ombudsman is right to stress the importance of learning from such cases and we support the call for greater awareness of how to express concerns.

“This report quotes the latest ADASS Spring Survey which cites the ‘growing disconnect between increasing social care need and the financial ability and confidence of Directors to meet that need’ and underlines the urgent need for funding and reform that ensures that councils have the resources required to meet the needs of their local communities."

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