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Social Care White Paper - What Does it Mean?

In December 2021 the government published the ‘People at the Heart of Care: Adult Social Care Reform’ White Paper which sets out their 10-year vision for how to transform and support the social care sector in England.

The White Paper outlines 3 objectives for the report to achieve:

1) People have choice, control and support to live independent lives

2) People can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support

3) People find adult social care fair and accessible

In order to achieve these broad objectives, the White Paper sets out a range of financial and operational promises across the next 10 years. These include £300m to integrate housing into local health and care strategies, giving those who need specialist housing a greater choice of alternative housing and support options; £150m of additional funding to drive investment in technology and digitalisation of the care sector, giving those living with social care more independence and an improved quality of life; and £500m to ensure all those working within the sector have the right training and qualifications and the support they need to thrive in their job.

This financial boost to the care sector is in addition to the £5.4bn set out in the Health and Social Care Levy announced in September 2021, which will cover the day-to-day funding for the next 3 years.

The spending promises outlined in the White Paper are welcome - particularly the £70m put aside to improve the delivery of care and support services, including assisting local authorities to better plan and develop the support and care options available to them. Our clients continue to help local authorities across the country develop social care strategies and improve their sectors through efficiency and outcomes-led projects aimed at saving money and improving services, and this £70m of central government funding will go a long way in helping Councils.

We hope that this fund is distributed by need, as there is no mention of which Councils will benefit from this fund in the White Paper. Helping the most disadvantaged or underperforming Councils first would have the greatest impact on the lives of people with social care needs, and we believe this money should be distributed through need rather than distributed equally amongst all local authorities, regardless of performance.

We’re also impressed by the long-term vision of this White Paper. It can often be easy for politicians to think short-term and only provide funding up to the next election, but the 10-year plan for Social Care will bring about greater change and ensure the social care sector is given the time to innovate and evolve. The forward thinking funding for digitalisation and housing improvements will ensure people living with social care needs are put first, with a greater choice of housing and more independence in their day-to-day lives.

The big questions now is whether the new Prime Minister will stick with these spending plans. Over the last few weeks many promises have been made around tax and spend policy that could impact on social care. We hope the new government won't lose focus and will continue with these must needed reforms.

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