Spring Budget: what the Government must do for social care
Published on 08 March 2017 12:01 AM
As the Government announces its Spring Budget, Age UK has outlined what it believes must be done to save social care for older people and put it onto a sustainable track for the future.
- Spring Budget provides an opportunity for the Government to address the collapsing social care system
- Age UK believes only a long-term approach of 5+ years with commitment from all parties can lead to a sustainable solution
- A reformed care system must minimise stress on older people and their families and put their needs first
- Social care must be considered in the context of other key policy decisions.
Social care and the Spring Budget 2017
As Age UK reported recently, the UK's social care system is on the brink of collapse, facing deep and complex problems. The Spring Budget on 8 March 2017 is an opportunity for the Government to commit to addressing these challenges. Our briefing, Social Care and the Spring Budget 2017, explores the key issues for social care and sets out ten key principles to creating a stable care system that serves us all well.
Download the briefing: Social care and the Spring Budget 2017 (300 KB)
What approach should the Government take?
Social care needs both emergency funding and a long-term, sustainable solution. This is why Age UK's briefing advocates a ‘twin track approach'. Initial funding would support the system for the next eighteen months to two years, and prevent it from immediate collapse.
A long-term solution to the problems within care will need to consider not only insufficient funding, but also recruitment problems and poor quality care. Any future policy must be informed by the views of users, families, commissioners, professionals and providers who deserve to have their say and be fully engaged in discussions.
Changing social care will be a long process.
It will require full planning, resourcing, and an optional cross-party approach as it will span more than a single Parliament. At least five years will be necessary to resolve the problems and set up a financially sustainable solution.
Putting the needs of older people first
As explained in the briefing, the main goal for a better social care system must be for older people to retain their independence at home. Maintaining their independence, health and wellbeing for as long as possible is what almost every older person says they want and represents good value for the taxpayer.
Today's care system is a postcode lottery. To get rid of this inequality, it must be made easier for older people to access care in their local community and to understand and navigate the system. Good quality, user friendly information needs to be a central element of this plan.
This is particularly important due to the increasing number of older people are living with dementia, which is putting increased pressure and responsibility on their families.
Older people with dementia and their families need more help from a reformed system of social care - and this will require more care home capacity and skilled workers. Similarly, we need to be realistic about the role of families and how informal carers are treated. We don't help older carers enough which risks the health of the person they care for and their own wellbeing in the process.
Social care is not an isolated issue
When reforming social care, it must be integrated with the Government's wider health care policy. This is proven to be the right approach as it is best for older people's wellbeing.
It is also closely linked to housing policy. Housing could be doing more to support social care and any review of social care should make this happen. Likewise, any future migration policy must also take into account the future of social care and the need for a strong care workforce.
Comment from Age UK
Age UK will be supportive of any Government initiative to reform care, as Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director explained:
"Successive governments have ducked the challenge of putting social care onto a sustainable financial footing but now the evidence is all around us that the task can't be put off any longer, or we risk whole districts becoming ‘care deserts' in which it is all but impossible for older people to find the care they need.
"If the Government has now recognised this they deserve our support."
Read our full response to the Spring Budget and announcement of Green Paper on social care