Thank you for contacting me about adult social care.
With an ageing population, this is one of the biggest challenges our country faces. I support the Government’s commitment to making sure that the most vulnerable in society gain the support they need. While it is important to note that more than 4 of every 5 people in care receive care from good and outstanding organisations, it is clear that more needs to be done to tackle this serious challenge – crucially by securing a long term funding solution. I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has spoken of his determination to tackle this, stating in his first speech as Prime Minister that “we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared, to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve”.
Since 2015 local authorities have had greater flexibility over the use of the council tax social care precept, so they can choose to raise extra money, as well as retain savings from the New Homes Bonus, totalling £240 million. In the Spending Round in September, an extra £1.5 billion was made available to councils for adult social care services. This funding should be viewed as a significant down payment as we move towards a long term funding solution.
Money alone will not fix the problem and reform is needed to encourage high standards across the whole country. It is vital for us to consider ways of better joining up health and care services, and I am encouraged by the use of the Better Care Fund to assist local government and the NHS with the implementation of integrated health and care services.
In the Conservative Manifesto it was made clear that we must build the same level of consensus on social care that we have already built on the NHS, across political parties, so that an answer can be brought forward that solves the problem, commands the widest possible support, and stands the test of time. I stand by this commitment, and urge my colleagues and constituents of all political beliefs to take part in a conversation about establishing a care system fit for the 21st century.
Central to this conversation will be careworkers' pay and conditions and how best to support carers.
Turning to the present crisis, social care is at the front line of the fight with coronavirus, protecting vulnerable people and continuing to provide vital care in communities across the country.
Social work and social care staff have been categorised as key workers to ensure that they are able to continue their jobs without needing to take time out to look after their children at home. Emergency legislation passed by Parliament empowered local authorities to register suitable people as regulated healthcare professionals, such as nurses, paramedics, and social workers, to ensure vital continuity of care for vulnerable children and adults. Further, it provided indemnity insurance to ensure that those providing healthcare services are legally protected for the work they are required to undertake as part of the COVID-19 response.
The Government has also made £2.9bn funding available, comprised of £1.6bn for local authorities across the country to ensure that they are able to deal with the impact of coronavirus on social care and £1.3bn to enhance the NHS discharge process so patients who no longer need urgent treatment can return home safely and quickly.
My colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care have made it clear that health and social care staff supporting the coronavirus national effort will be prioritised for testing.
In due course it will, of course, be appropriate to consider the way in which we have responded to this outbreak, however, right now, the Government is focused on the immediate response to the virus.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP