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Care England has today expressed concern over the finding in NAO’s recent report, ‘Reforming adult social care in England’.

In response to the report, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said:

“The report unearths an alarming parallel narrative. While the need for care is on the rise, the plans and funding for system reform are being scaled back. This is symptomatic of a broader issue Care England has long since called to be addressed. The solution to the adult social care puzzle is long-term thinking, yet the NAO report finds government over-reliance on short-term policies.”

A key finding of the report is that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has scaled back its short-term plans for system reform and associated funding to £729 million, compared with the £1.74 billion agreed with HM Treasury when DHSC published its white paper in December 2021. This equates to a 58% fall in the budget for system, reform between 2022-23 and 2024-25. Shortfalls such as this present a task to a sector already operating against a backdrop of demographic change, workforce shortages and pressure on local authority finances.

Furthermore, the NAO finds that the DHSC has not established an overarching programme to coordinate its reforms, thereby making it difficult to know if the DHSC is on track to achieve its objectives, and putting additional pressure on local authorities. Implementing policies to make social care an attractive sector to work in, and to ensure providers can continue to deliver fulfilling care to all those who need it is vital for the long-term economic health of the nation. Recent findings from Skills for Care show the adult social care sector adds £55.7 billion per annum to the English economy, making the sector one of the key drivers of the national economy.

Care England’s recent roadmap Care For Our Future, recognises the importance of pragmatic long-term steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector, and recommends that within the first 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

Care England reiterates the need for future governments to consider the implications of short-term thinking on those who rely on care and support, and those who provide it.

Martin Green continues:

“This report underscores the need for long-term investment into the social care sector with clear measures of success. Care England implores the government to heed this warning ahead of the Autumn Statement this month. With the NAO’s report painting a picture of a broken system, the government must make true on their manifesto promise to fix social care not just for now, but for the long-term.”