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Domestic Priority number one

Domestic Priority number one…The latest APPG on the block – the Adult Social Care APPG – was officially launched on the 3rd July. The APPG is focussing on the future of social care – and as a statement of purpose – “The APPG is ambitious for the future of our social care system, and wants to use the group to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and Parliamentarians to help create a sustainable vision for the future of adult social care.”

The launch included a report, which unsurprisingly recognised that the key priority reported was the need for sustainable and robust funding system for the future – stating – “A cross-party solution is key to providing a sustainable vision for the future of the adult social care system – commitments must be undertaken to build a shared political consensus, so that the existing strengths of the adult social care system can be further developed and built upon”. The report recognised how difficult it was for those strengths to be understood more broadly, with the media portraying inaccurate representations of social care.

The report also recognised that the Adult Social Care system is a key contributor to the overall well-being and prosperity of the country, and investing in its future sustainability should be seen as a key driver of future economic growth and driving increases in productivity for UK plc. In addition, the report reflected that the Adult Social Care workforce is high-skilled, adaptable and highly effective at establishing positive and rewarding relationships with the older and working age disabled adults who they care and support.

At the launch of the APPG last night, in the debate about the report – aptly as ever – chaired by David Brindle (in his Care Badge) – what came out was that everyone in the room was tired of talk. We absolutely need to articulate what we want the future of care to look like, but unless we take action now – the future will be characterised by further rationing of care, leaving more people with unmet needs, greater strain on unpaid carers, lower quality, greater pressure on acute services, higher levels of turnover and vacancies and a broken market.

This call for action coincided with a demand issued at the LGA conference yesterday – for the government to publish the Green Paper on social care by September at the latest. The willingness of government to push reform of this vital sector to one side can continue no longer. (see my blog on this earlier in the year)

Finally – to heap on the pressure for action now – the Lords Economic Affairs Committee published the results of their inquiry into the funding of adult social care – Social Care Funding: time to end a national scandal. In a very clear and direct report, the Lords demand an immediate £8bn cash injection and move to a free, NHS based, system. The Lords report is also demanding a radical overhaul of the social care funding system within 5 years – looking for residential care to be free at the point of delivery – utilising the model characterised by Dilnott of a separation of accommodation and care costs. They are also helpfully clear about how it should be paid for – which is through a model of general taxation.

So – there you have it future PM – domestic priority number one – funding and reform of adult social care. Local Government and ADASS says it. The House of Lords says it. The nine million people providing care in a paid or unpaid capacity say it. The millions of people receiving care (and the 1.4 million needing it but not receiving it) say it. The APPG says it. Twenty thousand care plus providers say it. NHS colleagues say it – so put some rocket fuel under this agenda and properly fund this life changing service now – and for all of our futures.

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