Reforming social care

Adequate and sustainable funding for social care is a necessary, but not on its own sufficient, condition to bring about the changes we need to ensure everyone who draws on care and support can live their best life. 

Alongside funding, we need a commitment to wider reform that tackles the most important issues.

Shifting the narrative around social care to something more positive is essential to reducing the invisibility of the sector and to helping the public think of the service as a benefit to society and a priority for investment. 

Political action on care and support will not happen until the public understands the real value of social care in supporting people to live the lives they want to lead.

Adult social care has suffered, historically, from a low public profile. The LGA believes that this could be because many people do not know what adult social care is and how it operates.

Additionally, much of the national portrayal of social care is negative, with the service framed as being in ‘crisis’, or ‘broken’, or facing a ‘tsunami of need’ from ‘vulnerable’ people. 

The care workforce is often similarly framed in negative terms – for example, ‘unskilled’, ‘poorly paid’ and ‘suffering from burn out’.

During the LGA’s annual Parliamentary Reception in the House of Lords at the end of January, social care was the big topic. 

In discussions with MPs and Peers, we highlighted just how fundamental meaningful engagement is throughout the design and delivery of services.

Central to the LGA’s – and councils’ – approach is the principle that people with lived experience are an equal source of expertise and insight as other colleagues working in the system. ‘Lip service’ engagement will deter people from offering their time and expertise in the future.

We need to think of co-production as not just between the person who draws on care and their social worker, but also at service level, and co-production’s role in terms of designing and evaluating services.

In written evidence to the Commons’ Public Accounts Select Committee’s inquiry on reforming adult social care, the LGA underlined how reform must embed realism and co-production throughout the process. 

The reforms that are needed to ensure people of all ages are able to live an equal life require a long-term approach. 

Realism is needed so that lessons are learned from the past, and plans and public commitments reflect the reality of the immense pressures facing social care. 

We need to be collectively ambitious and jointly agree what is achievable.

Any conversation about social care is incomplete without mentioning the Care Act 2014 – a landmark piece of legislation that continues to command widespread support because of the way in which it was developed through meaningful consultation and engagement, including with people who draw on social care. 

The LGA has consistently called for framing all social care reform around the Care Act 2014, placing its principle of wellbeing at the heart. Change must be centred on what best supports people to live the lives they want to lead.

The Government must work with the sector and people who use social care services to expand on their ambition and bring about the changes needed. The LGA will continue to play its part in paving a brighter future for social care.

Find out more about the LGA’s parliamentary work.


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