PPP calls for adequate social care funding to end postcode lottery
Public Policy Projects (PPP) has launched its first Social Care Network report, Mind the Cap: choices and consequences for financing social care, addressing the need for radical financial restructuring within the UK social care system.
The report, launched on 14 March, finds that the standard and financing of social care in the UK is subject to a postcode lottery. Given that social care is funded locally, there is vast regional inequality in the standard of care in the country.
Even with some level of means-tested support, and the newly introduced cap, the PPP Social Care Network found it a system unaffordable for many. The report concludes that these measures do not protect some low-middle income households from having to spend entire savings on social care.
PPP brought together 25 senior stakeholders and experts within the sector to discuss solutions to the crisis ahead of the spring budget. The report is sponsored by Radar Healthcare and the Royal Voluntary Service.
In September, parliament agreed to increase National Insurance Contributions by 1.25 per cent to establish a new ‘Health and Social Care Levy’ and introduced a new measure to cap care costs at £86,000. However, only a small proportion of money generated by the levy will go to social care, and the cap does not protect low-middle income individuals or families.
PPP’s social care network find that the Levy proposed by the government will not even begin to address the costs of care required by the system, and the cap protects those who are least likely to use the system.
Speaking at the report launch event, former Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green, said: “The current Health and Social Care Levy falls on the working age population, all of whom will be faced with inflationary cost of living pressures which we haven’t seen since the 1970s. It is falling on a particularly vulnerable portion of society.”
Key recommendations from the report include:
- The government must focus its attention on how best to stimulate a wider insurance-based approach to care, encouraging individuals to participate in voluntary insurance schemes to cover costs up to the cap
- The government should widen the scope of the Health and Social Care Levy; other forms of income and wealth for which National Insurance does not apply, such as rental income for private landlords, should also be considered for a social care levy
- The government should explore greater flexibility around the Health and Social Care Levy, including the option of directing a proportion of the levy to an individual’s social care insurance scheme and/or contributions being made up by employers, as with pension schemes
The report emphasises that there is insufficient funding overall in the sector and that local authorities and care providers must be adequately funded for any improvement of the social care system. It also outlines that this funding should come from both private payment and higher state provision.
Mr Green said: “The adequate financing of social care is vital for the proper functioning of the system. Once we inject an appropriate amount of money into the system which has, quite frankly, been on its knees for years, we will begin to see the problems of the social care system begin to melt away. The measures proposed by the government are not sufficient, and more must be done to support those in need of care.”
Commenting on the report, Dame Esther Rantzen, Broadcaster and Founder of ChildLine and The Silver Line, said: “I know how crucial adequate funding is, both for those who offer care, and for those who receive it. The caring profession needs far better funding to give carers the opportunities and status they should have and enable them to give their work the time and skill it needs. And vulnerable people who need support should not have to worry whether they can afford the right care. Without proper funding carers will continue to be undervalued and their work unappreciated when in fact more and more people depend upon it.”