New government reforms won't solve social care funding challenge

Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 16:01
Written by Scott Buckler

New government reforms alone will not solve the challenge of funding social care, according to a new report published by The King's Fund, Paying for social care: Beyond Dilnot

The government's Care Bill, before parliament for the first time today, would introduce a cap on the amount individuals contribute towards the cost of their care, a central recommendation of the Dilnot Commission in 2011. The report, Paying for social care: Beyond Dilnot, argues that, while this will provide welcome protection for people from the catastrophic costs associated with long stays in residential care, much more should be done to meet mounting financial pressures.

With spending continuing to fall and demand for services increasing due to demographic pressures, the report calls for a stronger focus on the challenge of eligibility – ensuring that more people are able to access the right level of support. It also raises concerns that unmet need, and its impact on carers, will place further pressure on an NHS already under significant strain, arguing that it is time to look beyond the Dilnot report at how to secure enough resources to meet current and future needs.

The report identifies four main priority areas, which build on the foundations of Dilnot to provide a new roadmap for social care reform.

  • The government should ensure proper preparation and planning for implementing the Dilnot proposals, to establish a new framework for planning and cost-sharing.
  • The 2015/16 Spending Review should be used to move towards a single strategic budget settlement for the NHS and adult social care, and closer alignment of local authority and clinical commissioning group (CCG) budgets around individual needs.
  • Health and wellbeing boards have a crucial leadership role to play in ensuring care reform is part of a wider transformation of local health and care services.
  • There should be a fresh debate about the options for funding the quantity and quality of care needed in future, and how to overcome dividing lines between the ways health and social care are paid for.

Richard Humphries, Assistant Director, Policy at The King's Fund, said: 'The government's reforms are an important milestone – but there is much more to be done. There needs to be an informed debate so that people understand how they benefit from the changes, and to address the difficult long-term choices that remain about how much we spend on care, and how to fund this.

'We must also think boldly about removing the unhelpful fault lines which exist across health and social care spending. Instead of 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' by raiding the NHS budget to bail out social care, we need a more ambitious shift towards single-budget settlements for NHS and social care.'

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