MPs warn without budget rise the social care sector faces collapse
The Commons Health and Social Care Committee is calling for an immediate social care funding increase of £7bn a year by 2023–24 to avoid the risk of market collapse.
It is also urging the government to publish a 10 year plan for the social care sector as it has done for the NHS.
The committee of MPs said it had chosen to focus on funding ahead of this autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review and workforce issues in the context of Brexit.
Led by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the committee said without the 34% rise in the projected budget, providers may withdraw from offering services to council-funded clients and focus exclusively on the self-pay market.
They say the rise would help protect people who face catastrophic social care costs. And £3.9bn of the increase should go towards a new pay settlement and career structure for staff who must have ‘parity of esteem’ with NHS colleagues.
This parity could be achieved by linking social care pay to equivalent bands of the NHS Agenda for Change contract.
The Funding and Workforce report published on Thursday October 22 noted:
“This will not come cheaply but is an absolute necessity in the wake of the commitment the social care workforce has shown in the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes”.
The report calls for a reduction in the over-reliance on zero hours contracts and an improvement in the provision of sick pay.
It also urges the government to ensure that standards for weekly COVID testing for care home staff are maintained, including rapid turnaround times.
And regular data should be published on the number of tests delivered to social care staff and residents. In addition, the government should consider extending routine testing beyond care homes to other care settings, particularly domiciliary care.
Also a named key relative should be included in routine testing.
The committee described the current system as “unfair, confusing, demeaning, and frightening for the most vulnerable people in our society, and their families.”
And the report concluded that the proposals were “only a starting point. It will not provide any improvement in access to care, which is urgently needed and would be improved through introducing free personal care as recommended by previous select committee reports from both the Lords and the Commons.”