Local Government and Social Care Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee 3:12 pm, 24th April 2019

Absolutely. The joint Committee report made the point that the quality of care is so important, and we have to think about the quality of the workforce and how much we pay them. The average social care worker gets paid 29% less than someone doing a similar job in the NHS. That figure demonstrates the challenge that we face.

What are we looking at, then? We have recently had a few welcome sticking plasters of funding from the Government; but next time, we will need a very large bandage, not just a few sticking plasters, to put this issue right. We look forward to the Green Paper, at some point on the horizon. Perhaps the Minister can tell us about the timing for that when she replies, but even now time is now too short for there to be a fundamental change in funding arrangements. We are going to need a lot more of the same.

The two Select Committees recommended that, at the funding review, we take the £7 billion extra that will be in the local government system from the 75% business rates retention and, instead of using it to replace public health grants and other forms of grant, we put it back into the system to deal with the problems of social care. That money can be there and we will not have to change the system. That can be done. We also proposed changes to make the council tax system fairer and less regressive. We can do those things for the next spending review and make sure that a quantum of money—around £7 billion— is available for social care. That would then relieve the pressure on other council services.

We then looked at what the longer-term system should look like. Of course, we need better integration at a local level between the NHS and social care. This is not about a national system of care that replaces what local authorities do; it is about better integration at local level. We must bear in mind that, while it is important that the health service and social care are linked together, the other great join-up that we must have is between housing and social care. The majority of people receiving social care live in their own home, and it is vital that we get those services linked as well.