Adult social care reform

Councils stand ready to play their part, but funding issues must be tackled soon.

Last year, the Government published its long-awaited adult social care white paper. 

The white paper set out a 10-year vision for care and support in England around three key objectives: that people have choice, control and support to live independent lives; they can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support; and that adult social care is fair and accessible. 

It was good to see positive language used to describe the importance and value of care and support. However, we continue to be concerned that councils will be unable to play their part in the Government’s ambitions if the issue of funding is not tackled soon. 

In February, we wrote a letter to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, detailing our work on supporting people with dementia and our ongoing concerns regarding the stability of the social care workforce.

Supporting people with dementia is not just a health and social care issue. Councils deliver a huge range of services that can have an impact on people with dementia and their carers, including adult social care, public health, housing, leisure, planning, licensing, transport, and children’s services. With councils prioritising adult social care above other services in the face of financial pressures, additional support is required to enable councils to do more to develop dementia friendly communities. 

Meanwhile, the Government published its new health and social care integration white paper, which aims to bring the NHS and local government closer together to improve care for all and value for money. The plan includes proposals to improve data sharing, introduce personalised care, and strengthen the earlier intervention support that could prevent diseases from progressing and reduce the need for invasive and expensive interventions late in the day. 

“It was good to see the positive language used to describe the importance and value of care”

The LGA supports the Government’s ambition for joining up health and care services to get better outcomes for individuals and communities, and we were pleased to see the role of councils in supporting this work recognised in the paper, as well as the focus on prevention and providing care and support to people of all ages in community settings. 

We continue to call for integrated care systems to develop their place-based arrangements on existing local authority boundaries, as many of the components of joined-up working already exist at this level. 

On the legislative front, the Health and Care Bill has been progressing through the House of Lords. We secured a key reform in the opening of the session at committee stage, where the Minister, Lord Kamall, said that, following the “strength of feeling in the House” on the issue of elected councillors being appointed to integrated care boards (ICBs), the Government had made the decision to revise its draft guidance to remove the proposed blanket exclusion of local authority members sitting on ICBs. 

This is a helpful recognition that councillors can make a positive contribution to ICBs, bringing a wealth of experience from working in partnership with their communities and other stakeholders on strategic issues. We look forward to moving forward with the development of integrated care systems in this spirit of collaboration.

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