Reforms Will Not Solve Social Care Funding Problems

  • The King's Fund have said the government's Dilnot reforms will not solve the funding problems, and will increase demand as funding falls.

    Their concern is that spending on social care is falling, and the focus needs to be on ensuring people have access to the appropriate levels of support.

    The Government's Care Bill  is introducing a care cap on individual contributions towards care costs, based on the recommendations put forward by the Dilnot Commission in 2011.

    However, the final draft of the reform has not used the full guidelines as recommended by Andrew Dilnot and the King's Fund say this will not go far enough.

    The recommended cap on care costs in the Dilnot report is £35,000, and that the cap would become ineffective if over £50,000. The final life time cap that ministers have chosen to go with is £72,000 (lowered from £75,000 earlier this year after complaints) but Labour say this will do nothing to help disabled and older people who are struggling to get their care needs met.

    The King's Fund report says this may not go far enough to protect people from the costs of long term residential care, and that the 2011 recommendations should be properly implemented.

    Despite an increase in the numbers of people living longer, 231,000 fewer older people, around a fifth, are receiving help with their care than four years ago.The demand for a stronger emphasis on the problems surrounding eligibility comes after a continued fall in spending and the demand for services increasing due to demographic pressures has raised concerns.

    Four key priority areas have been highlighted by the report, which build on the foundations of Dilnot in order to provide a new pathway for social care reform.

    One area identified was the importance of ensuring that the 2015/16 spending review will move towards a single budget settlement for the NHS and adult social care, to closer align with local authority and clinical commissioning group budgets based around people’s individual needs.

    The report recommends that health and wellbeing boards hold a crucial leadership role in ensuring government care reforms are part of the wider transformation of local health and care services, as they have experience in the area and will know what is required.

    Assistant director of policy at The King's Fund, Richard Humphries, said:

    The Government's reforms are an important milestone - but there is much more to be done.

    There needs to be an informed debate so that people understand how they benefit from the changes, and to address the difficult long-term choices that remain about how much we spend on care, and how to fund this.

    Instead of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" by raiding the NHS budget to bail out social care, we need a more ambitious shift towards single-budget settlements for NHS and social care.

     


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