There seems to be consensus across local government that the Prime Minister’s announcement on social care funding and reform still leaves a lot to be desired.
For many in my party, the announcement represents a bailout for a pandemic-weary NHS rather than the long-term funding settlement for social care so many of us in councils crave.
The local government family warned that the danger of wrapping up social care funding with that of the NHS was that one of the two would end up as a poor relation – that now appears to be the case.
“Alongside funding, insufficient staffing is still the biggest risk to the social care sector”
Many have doubts about whether the £5.4 billion earmarked for social care in England over the next three years will stretch to cover the costs over that time period. How that figure was arrived at is still an open question.
Perhaps the biggest mystery is still around the ‘reform’ of care services, on which the announcement was mostly silent.
Alongside funding, insufficient staffing is still the biggest risk to the social care sector.
Pre-pandemic, there were more than 100,000 vacancies in social care. The realities of Brexit, the pandemic and the fact that social care work is still some of the worst paid in society only make matters worse.
In rural areas such as mine, this is even more of a challenge. House prices are astronomical, public transport non-existent and we have an increasingly ageing population.
The announcement was an opportunity to solve some of these problems; let’s hope the Government provides more answers in the coming weeks.