The Prime Minister has unveiled plans to reform adult social care and to “bring the health and social care system closer together on a long term, sustainable footing”.
So, what does that mean for providers and people who use their services?
We can take from this announcement some of the positives that will drive equality across the social care sector.
Primarily, according to Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid “no one in England will have to pay more than £86,000 in care costs over the course of their lifetime. This is equivalent to around three years in care.”
This has always been a concern; we know this affects a great many care professionals. The burden and stress placed on service users and families’ shoulders, as to how they fund their future care needs can be overwhelming.
As Sajid Javid said: “Currently, families live with the fear of losing everything they own – including potentially a lifetime’s worth of savings. Hopefully this announcement today goes someway to alleviating some of the concerns we all have as to how we will pay for care when we need it.”
Another driver for equality and fairness, regardless of financial status, is the government’s announcement to ensure those who fund their own care do not pay more than state-funded individuals for the equivalent standard of care.
How will this be achieved?
Around £36 billion will be invested in the health and care system over the next three years, to ensure it has the long-term resource it needs.
From April 2022, the government will introduce a new, UK-wide 1.25 per cent Health and Social Care Levy, ring-fenced for health and social care. This will be based on National Insurance contributions (NICs) and from 2023 will be legislatively separate.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “The new Health and Social Care Levy is the necessary and responsible thing to do to protect the NHS, sharing the cost between businesses and individuals and ensuring those earning more pay more.
To ensure everyone contributes fairly, all working adults, including those over the state pension age, will pay the levy and the rates of dividend tax will also increase by 1.25% to help fund this package.
Every individual will contribute according to their means”, said the Government.
Will we see real change?
At a time when the Social Care sector so desperately needs it, to hear that the government plans to invest in the social care workforce is welcome news, as is the delivery of new training and qualification opportunities, which will enable staff to progress and improve and deliver and even better standard of care, is positive.
Perhaps not in the next few years, as the lion’s share of the funding is likely to be spent on alleviating the NHS patient backlog. But, if the social care sector is given its own ring-fenced budget to manage, we may yet see unprecedented and profound change. That is the hope. The government must now ensure that it delivers on its social care promise.