Joint select committee report on 'Long term funding of adult social care'

On 27 June 2018, the select committees for Health and Social Care and Housing, Communities and Local Government published a joint report on 'Long-term funding of adult social care'. The report summarised evidence from their inquiry on funding reforms and aimed to feed into the government’s proposed social care green paper (first announced in March 2017).

The inquiry gathered evidence from people who use social care and their families, social care staff, and organisations in the social care sector. To get an understanding of public opinion on social care funding, the report was also informed by a citizens’ assembly.

The report described the existing funding, demand, cost and workforce pressures on the social care system. It presented estimates from various sources that despite additional funding there would be a social care funding gap of between £2.2bn–2.5bn in 2019/20.

Evidence provided highlighted the need for cross-party support for successful reform and the report recommended a parliamentary commission to achieve this.

Guiding principles

The report set out recommended principles that should guide future thinking on social care funding reform. Informed by the inquiry evidence and building on those set out by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt in March 2018, the six principles were:

  1. providing high quality care
  2. considering everyone with care needs, both working age adults and older people
  3. ensuring inter-generational fairness regarding the ‘who and how’ of social care funding
  4. working towards universal access to personal care free at the point of delivery
  5. risk pooling to protect a greater portion of people’s savings and assets
  6. ‘earmarking’ contributions towards social care to build public support.

A social care premium

The members of the citizens’ assembly supported social care being free at the point of use, but the report acknowledged that even moving towards a system of free personal care for people with critical care needs would require significant additional funding.

Regarding where additional social care funding should come from, the report recommended a combination of local and national-level revenue-raising options. But it emphasised that local government funding would not be enough to fill the existing funding gap and reform the social care system. The citizens’ assembly members supported the idea that any additional taxation be earmarked for social care. The report proposed employers and employees aged over 40 contribute towards a specific ‘social care premium’ on earnings above a threshold, following the principle of inter-generational fairness.

Government response

In September 2018, Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage wrote to the committee chairs to thank them for the report and inform them that the Government would respond to the report when it published the social care green paper that autumn. The next month, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock delayed publishing the green paper to ‘before the end of the year.’ In December 2018, it was indefinitely delayed.

Source(s)

Health and Social Care and Housing, Communities and Local Government Committees.
Long-term funding of adult social care: First Joint Report of the Health and Social Care and Housing, Communities and Local Government Committees of Session 2017–19.
House of Commons; 2018.

House of Commons.
Adult Social Care: Long-term Funding. 28 June 2018, Volume 643.
Hansard; 2018.

Dinenage C.
Government response to the joint Committee report on long term social care funding [letter].
Department of Health and Social Care; 5 September 2018.