England's 'ravaged' social care sector needs urgent injection of cash this year, MPs warn

·3-min read

England's social care sector must be given an urgent injection of cash before the end of the year, a group of MPs have warned.

The influential Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee says the country's care system is "ravaged" and needs both a financial injection and a long-term plan to ensure the sector can meet immediate cost pressures and be sustainable in the years to come.

The report, released after the committee carried out an inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care, said the sector "does not have enough funding either in the here and now or in the longer term".

It added that the £25m pledged by ministers over three years as part of proposals to support carers is "totally inadequate" and that the money allocated from the new national insurance levy "won't touch the sides".

The committee also accused the government of having "nothing more than a vision" for tackling the challenges of rising demand and difficulties in recruiting and keeping staff.

Committee chairman Clive Betts said the government has only "come close" to assisting the social care crisis and warned that more needs to be urgently done to revive the sector.

"Ultimately, whether it relates to immediate cost pressures or on wider structural issues in the sector, the fundamental problem is that there continues to be a large funding gap in adult social care which needs filling," the Labour MP said.

"Those who need care, their loved ones, and care workers deserve better.

"The NHS and adult social care provision should not be pitted against one another.

"The two systems are interdependent and each needs to be adequately funded to reduce pressure on the other.

"Wherever the money comes from - from allocating a higher proportion of levy proceeds to social care, or from central government grants - the government urgently needs to allocate more funding to adult social care in the order of several billions each year."

Responding to the report, the County Councils Network said it is "absolutely vital" that the government act on the recommendations and called for ministers to go further by "delaying the implementation of social care reforms beyond October 2023 so that councils are given more time and resources to ensure the reforms are implemented successfully".

Sky News analysis carried out in June revealed that the social care sector was straining from a shortage of funding and a rising need long before the pandemic revealed a system in crisis.

More than half of local authorities experienced a fall in per person spending in the decade to 2020, according to the data from NHS Digital.

The numbers are even starker in London, where almost nine in ten local authorities experienced a funding cut.

Social care workers provide personal care and protection to vulnerable people of all ages with disabilities and illnesses.

But some say that spending cuts have meant their jobs have shifted from providing quality of life to just keeping people alive.

And the crisis in funding comes at a time when need and cost have never been so high.

Since 2016, the number of new requests for support in England have increased 5.6% and costs have gone up by more than a quarter.

Conservative Party leadership candidate Liz Truss has promised she would undo the rise in National Insurance if she becomes the next prime minister.

The increase was introduced in early April as part of the government's plan to fund the NHS and social care.

The government has said that from April 2023, National Insurance will return to its old rate and the extra 1.25p in the pound will be collected as a new health and social care levy.

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