MPs to look into funding gap for social care

Author: Caroline White

The parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee has launched an inquiry to find out how much extra cash will be needed to plug the gap in social care funding for each of the next five years and relieve the pressures on the NHS.

The inquiry, which will take evidence from the public, relevant organisations, and experts, will focus on the impact current funding of social care is having on the NHS, and the amount needed to counteract this.

MPs will also consider shortages in the social care workforce and what solutions need to be found to address changes in the years ahead.

Health and Social Care Committee chair Jeremy Hunt said: “This longstanding crisis comes with a huge cost to families and individuals who can’t get the social care they need. But it affects us all when a lack of availability prevents people leaving hospital, contributing to increased pressure on the NHS.

“We’ll be establishing an agreed figure that represents the extra funding that’s needed in each of the next five years in order to fix this.”

He added: “As well extra money, we’ll be examining solutions to tackle staffing shortages in social care that would be responsive to workforce changes.”

Counsellor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA’S) Community Wellbeing Board, said the inquiry was “another important step in building towards a long-term, sustainable funding solution for adult social care.”

He added: “Our own analysis published ahead of this week’s Budget shows that adult social care services face a funding gap of almost £4 billion by 2025, just to cover basic inflationary and demographic pressures.

“This makes up almost two thirds of the overall funding gap which councils face by the middle of the decade to pay for local services, due to rising cost pressures and unprecedented demand.”

Last week, the LGA published a report* setting out the main issues that need to be addressed to ensure that people can live the lives they want to lead, and the kind of action councils want to see from government.

This includes making the case for the value of social care in its own right; funding to secure the short- to medium-term and pave the way for future reforms and more investment to support prevention and wellbeing.

The LGA is also calling for the NHS to place greater emphasis on prevention and wellbeing; as well as consideration of any long-term reform proposals against a set of key tests, such as clarity, fairness, and whether they pool the financial risk of care costs among the population at large.

“The government has the opportunity to take forward the proposals in our new report on the future of care, as it begins talks to build a cross-party consensus on the future of this vital service,” suggested Counsellor Hudspeth.

More information on how to get involved with select committee inquiry and submit evidence can be found here. The deadline for submissions of evidence is Tuesday 14 April 2020.

*The lives we want to lead; towards change, towards hope. A report by the Local Government Association, March 2020.