Peers urge next Prime Minister to end 'national scandal' with £8bn social care funding boost
The next Prime Minister should pump billions of pounds into the social care system to end the "national scandal" of vulnerable people going without the help they need, a new report has warned.
The Lords Economic Affairs Committee called on the Government to spend £8bn "to restore social care to acceptable standards", as the group of peers demanded a major shake-up of the way care is paid for.
In its new report - dubbed 'Time to end a national scandal' - the committee finds that funding for adult social care is now £700m lower in real terms than it was in 2010/11, despite growing numbers of people relying on the state for help.
And they urge the Government to increase overall social care funding by £8bn - using national funds rather than asking more of cash-strapped councils.
Committee chair Lord Forsyth said: "Fixing underfunding is not difficult. The Government needs to spend £8 billion now to return quality and access in the system to an acceptable standard. Fixing unfairness is more complicated, but the Government has ducked the question for too long. They need to publish a White Paper, not a Green Paper, with clear proposals for change now."
Under the current social care system, anyone in England and Wales with capital and savings below £14,250 has their care paid for by local authorities.
Those who have between £14,250 and £23,250 set aside receive a contribution from their council, while people who have more than £23,250 are expected to fund their own care.
But the peers say that set-up is "unfair", and means social care providers in places where councils end up footing the majority of the bill for local residents are now "struggling to survive".
Instead, the committee is calling for social care funding to be brought closer to the free-at-the-point-of-use model used by the NHS.
The urge ministers to bring in a guaranteed element of in free personal care to help pay for "washing, dressing or cooking" needs - while still asking people to contribute to "their accommodation and assistance with less critical needs like housework or shopping".
The peers argue that the shift could prompt more people to receive care at home, relieving pressure on other parts of the state.
Lord Forsyth warned that the social care was system was now "severely underfunded".
"More than a million adults who need social care aren't receiving it, family and friends are being put under greater pressure to provide unpaid care, and the care workforce continues to be underpaid and undervalued," he said.
The former Tory Cabinet minister added: "Our recommendations will cost money, but social care should be a public spending priority. By 2023/24, the NHS funding will have increased by £20.5 billion per year. This is more than the entirety of local authority adult social care expenditure."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have given local authorities access to up to £3.9bn more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410m is available for adults and children’s services.
"We will set out our plans to reform the social care system at the earliest opportunity to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”