Home / Resources & Guidance / Care For Our Future: The roadmap to a sustainable future for adult social care

Care England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care, is pleased to announce the launch of Care For Our Future, a roadmap for delivering sustainable adult social care. Setting out the sector’s priorities across three key themes – workforce, funding and integration – the roadmap issues a series of policy recommendations for the next Government to implement within 100 days, 2 years and 5 years of entering office. The plan is backed by major representative groups from across the sector.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:

“Adult social care affects all of us. From the vital care and support delivered to our loved ones to the £51.5bn contributed to the English economy every year, all our futures depend on a well-resourced and resilient sector. This roadmap harnesses the sector’s talent and enthusiasm to provide a blueprint for the next Government to move us towards the sustainable future our sector and society so desperately needs.”

“The recommendations are pragmatic, realistic and would deliver meaningful impact. This includes a multi-billion pound boost to the economy, shorter NHS waiting times and care work becoming a valued and rewarded career. It is incumbent upon the incoming Government, whatever their political persuasion, to put the future of adult social care at the heart of its vision for the country and this roadmap represents the foundations on which to do so.”

Care England’s latest publication, Care For Our Future: The roadmap to a sustainable future for adult social care, strikes a balance between addressing the urgent needs of the adult social care sector and remaining pragmatic and deliverable amid a challenging economic and political landscape. Care For Our Future represents a comprehensive and ambitious programme for the next Government.

To improve the quality of care, boost the economy and empower the sector’s workforce, Care England is calling on the next Government to commit to:

Within 100 days of the next Government taking office:
• Mandate the professional registration of adult social care staff in England
• Zero-rate VAT for welfare services in England
• Mandate direct adult social care representation at all ICS levels in England

Within two years of the next Government taking office:
• Implement a fully-funded £15 minimum care wage and develop parity of esteem with NHS staff
• Close the Fair Cost of Care funding gap and repeat the exercise at a sector-wide level
• Publish a strategy for hospital discharge which introduces a national tariff of £1,500 per week

Within five years of the next Government taking office:
• Consolidate reforms within a fully-funded, long-term adult social care workforce plan
• Deliver a long-term adult social care funding settlement, with a £10bn annual funding boost
• Deliver a fully mapped prevention and integration plan

Martin Green continues:

“To make real progress, we need real change. This is something organisations from across the health and social care system are actively calling for. Our roadmap accounts for the challenging economic situation likely to be inherited by the next Government, prioritising measures that would stabilise the sector in the immediate term and transform care over the next five years. By giving the sector the resources and confidence it needs, the next Government can play a decisive role in delivering an adult social care sector that is fit for our future and that the nation can be proud of.”

Sector support

Steve Brine MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said in support of a fully-funded, long-term adult social care workforce plan:

“I fully support Care England’s call for a long term workforce strategy for the adult social care sector, which desperately needs stability and long-term funding commitments in order to deliver its vital services and help free up bed capacity in the NHS. I hope that Ministers read the report carefully and provide a full response in due course.”

Paul Nowak, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said in support of implementing a fully-funded £15 minimum care wage and developing parity of esteem with NHS staff:

“This is a much-needed intervention from Care England. The staffing crisis in social care can’t be fixed unless we improve pay and conditions. A £15 an hour minimum wage would be a game-changer and crucially keep more skilled carers in the profession. The current situation is unsustainable. Up and down the country people are waiting longer for the support they need because care workers are quitting in their droves. Investing in our social care workforce is a no-brainer. It will improve care services, help clear the backlog in the NHS and boost the economy.”

Rebecca Pearson, General Manager of UK Care Services at Bupa Care Services, said in support of zero-rating VAT for welfare services:

“At a time when sustainable financial initiatives are needed in the adult social care sector, change to VAT treatment would offer a longer-term means for care providers to manage their increasing costs. With a recruitment crisis within the sector, providers need the ability to attract talent both domestically and internationally, and this newly-created initiative would free-up resource to incentivise workers and facilitate international recruitment.”

Andrew Knight, Chief Executive of Care UK, said in support of a hospital discharge strategy and £1,500 minimum national discharge tariff:

“If [care providers] were paid consistently and fairly across the sector, then providers such as ourselves would be better able to support the NHS by putting in place care frameworks designed to improve the speed and effectiveness of discharges – ultimately resulting in a more joined-up approach that improves the experience of patients and their families. Without paying providers a rate which enables them to reinvest in developing their services and expanding capacity, finding care home places to discharge patients from hospital will only become more challenging as we face increased demand for specialist care from an ageing population with complex care needs.”

Karolina Gerlich, CEO of the Care Workers’ Charity (CWC), said in support of mandatory professional registration of adult social care staff:

“The Care Workers Charity welcomes Care England’s recommendation to mandate the professional registration of adult social care staff in England. The adult social care workforce is the sector’s most valuable asset and something that should be recognised, appreciated and celebrated. A professional register would help raise the status of working in care, and highlight the fantastic and life-changing work colleagues across the sector do on a day to day basis.”

Jake Rollin, Director of Commissioned Care and Commercial Support at HC-One, said in support of a hospital discharge strategy and £1,500 national discharge tariff:

“Care England’s recommendation of a £1,500 national tariff for discharge represents a pragmatic lever to help improve the hospital discharge process. The price is only part of the problem though. We need to go back to basics and improve the current commissioning, contracting and pathway practice within the sector. If we get these right, along with the price, we will unlock capacity within the system and assure success for those who draw on care and support.”

Liz Blacklock, CEO and Paul Featherstone, Founder of National Association of Care and Support Workers (NACAS), said in support of Care For Our Future:

“Care For Our Future embodies a forward-thinking approach, reflecting the collective efforts of industry leaders, professionals, policymakers, and stakeholders. As the leading association representing care and support workers across the country, we recognize the critical need for a well-defined roadmap that addresses the challenges and opportunities facing our industry.

“Together, we can bring about meaningful change, drive innovation, and create a brighter future for care and support workers, as well as the individuals and families who depend on our services. By embracing the Care England Roadmap, we embark on a journey towards a stronger, more resilient, and person-centred social care sector.”

Amanda Sullivan, Chief Executive of NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB, said in support of a fully mapped prevention and integration plan:

“A long term and consistent approach to tackling health inequalities and promoting equity of provision is much needed all across the health and care system, including the social care sector. The proposals contained in this section of Care England’s report would make a real difference to the residents of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and more widely. We are already committed to this agenda through our Health Inequalities and Innovation Fund – a multi-year commitment to supporting integration activities which support the most vulnerable in our society, backed up with real money on a recurrent basis.”

Nicola McLeish, Chief Executive Officer of Surrey Care Association, said in support of direct adult social care representation at all ICS levels:

“The Adult Social Care sector plays an essential part in the smooth running of Integrated Care Systems. Recognising that there should be parity between social care and NHS staff would be an important step forward, and enabling the sector to be represented throughout the system in Surrey is an essential part of this. As such the Surrey Care Association welcomes Care England’s publication which recognises the importance of the sector.”

Ian Smith, Chair of NHS Surrey Heartlands ICB, said in support of direct adult social care representation at all ICS levels:

“At Surrey Heartlands ICS, the involvement of adult social care representatives on our Integrated Care Partnership and Integrated Care Board has been critical in ensuring the diversity of the entire sector is accounted for and heard. We encourage the Government and ICS colleagues to acknowledge the importance of such representation and commit to its facilitation through the measures outlined in Care For Our Future. We welcome Care England’s publication and urge key decision-makers to lend serious consideration to its recommendations as measures that address the sector’s needs and would help contribute to a sustainable future for adult social care.”

The full Care For Our Future report is accessible here.

A full list of stakeholder endorsements is accessible here.