Social care funding urged to ease ‘unbearable situation’ of people with dementia

·3-min read

The Government has been urged to invest significant extra funds in social care within weeks to help ease the “unbearable situation” faced by people with dementia and their families.

Families living with dementia through no fault of their own “are at the sharp end of a system that does not work”, according to a report by the Health and Social Care Committee.

The cross-party MPs say these families continue to face a “huge financial and psychological burden” as key elements of social care reform remain undecided.

The committee heard evidence that people with dementia and their carers are required to navigate complex care pathways, “grapple with burdensome bureaucracy” and face a system that is “unfair, confusing, demeaning, and frightening”.

The Government has pledged to invest £36 billion from April 2022, to be funded through a UK-wide health and social care levy based on national insurance contributions paid by working adults.

Most of the money in the first three years will go towards the NHS, with social care receiving £5.4 billion, including £500 million for the workforce.

More money – it is not clear how much – will be diverted to the sector after the three years as people hit the £86,000 cap on care costs, which will come into force from October 2023.

An immediate £162.5 million fund to help the sector recruit and keep staff was also announced last week to help ease pressures as providers head into a winter that is anticipated to be more challenging than usual.

And in the spending review, £4.8 billion was allocated to councils for social care and other services, although this was not ringfenced solely for social care.

A Government white paper setting out further reforms to social care and the workforce is expected later this year.

The new report, Supporting people with dementia and their carers, urges the Government to deliver significant additional investment, bold funding reform and a long-term plan for the sector within weeks.

The MPs say they will be “extremely disappointed” if these plans are not brought forward by the end of 2021.

They write: “It is imperative that the Government makes good on its promise, not months or years from now, but within a matter of weeks.”

These plans must include practical measures to improve the lives of families living with dementia and consider the role of unpaid carers.

The MPs say that, until they receive more clarity about how much more funding social care will receive from the levy after the first three years, they will remain concerned that families with dementia will continue to suffer.

The committee is urging the Government to accept its previous recommendations for a £7 billion annual increase in funding for social care by 2023-24 as a “starting point”.

Committee chairman Jeremy Hunt said: “People living with dementia face catastrophic costs for social care but even though the new levy is welcome, their families will continue to remain unprotected until 2023 at the earliest.

“The extra funding announced in the Budget for local authorities is welcome but it’s not clear how much will be set aside to support the growing costs of providing social care.

“Fundamental reform of the social care system must be tackled by the Government in its promised white paper and until we see warm words turned into action, families living with dementia will continue to face an unbearable situation.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Dementia can have a profound and lasting impact on people’s lives and we are determined those affected get the best care and treatment possible.

“It is one of the reasons we are committed to delivering world-leading social care across the country, and are investing an additional £5.4 billion over three years to reform the system and help more people. After this period we expect the proportion of funding from the new health and social care levy going to adult social care to increase significantly.”

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