Over the last few years, the Government has taken a number of important steps to support the social care sector and ensure high standards and financial sustainability for the long term.
By 2020 we will have a million more over 70s in our country than in 2015. That’s a good thing, but does bring with it challenges providing for the health and care needs of an older population. The Government has acted to ensure high standards for users of social care and stability for the sector.
On standards, the Conservative-led Coalition introduced the toughest inspection system, perhaps anywhere in the world. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) was tasked with providing an independent rating for every care home and care provider, giving the public an honest view and driving out bad care. 80% of adult social care services inspected are rated as good or outstanding – this shows that the vast majority of care is of a good quality, but there is still more work to be done.
The Care Act 2013 also made the law clearer and fairer for service users and families – extending carers’ rights, enabling integration between health and care services.
Over the last 7 years, while having to make difficult decisions to rebalance the public finances, the Government has made investment in health and care services a priority for additional spending.
Adult social care funding is made up of Government grant, council tax, and business rates. The Government introduced the adult social care ‘precept’ in 2015, to enable councils to raise additional funds for social care through Council Tax. The Better Care Fund, first announced in 2013 and implemented from the beginning of 2015-16, has further helped to join-up health and care services so people can manage their own health and wellbeing, and live independently in their communities for as long as possible.
As a further boost, the Chancellor announced in the budget earlier this year that local authorities in England will receive an additional £2 billion for social care over the next three years. £1 billion has been provided in 2017-18, ensuring that councils can start to fund more care packages immediately.
The need to ensure long term financial stability for social care is absolutely clear. The ageing population presents one of our nation’s most profound challenges. Over the years ahead, we must answer the question of how we, as a society, enable all adults to live well in later life and how we deliver sustainable public services that support them to do so.