Local Government and Social Care Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 5:11 pm, 24th April 2019

I absolutely recognise and accept that point.

Toby Perkins intervened to challenge the point about spending under the coalition Government. There was a crisis in public finances in 2010 which did have to be addressed, but I do accept that the balance between social care and the NHS was not optimal. I also want to address other areas where the underinvestment or disinvestment in preventive services has borne a heavy cost.

Vicky Foxcroft, who has done very good work on youth violence—I have been part of the commission looking at that—made the point that many of the preventive services that are there, particularly during teenage years, to stop the risk of young people slipping into gang violence have been stripped away in many of the poorest communities. Again, the impact of that has, at least in part—it is very hard to judge cause and effect—been an increase in violence on our streets at the awful and dreadful cost to many of those affected by it.

I want to turn specifically to social care. It is worth reflecting on why social care is so important. It is there to give people the chance of a happy life and a good life, as far as they are able to enjoy that if they are struggling with a range of conditions. It is there to help people to remain independent in old age, to support people so that they do not end up needing the NHS, with an enormous impact on their wellbeing. One of the problems we face is that unless you or a family member experiences the need for social care, it is hidden from view. Very many families across our country simply do not see the impact of the underfunding of social care today, but it is very real. There are over 1 million older people who are not getting the care they need. As Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, has pointed out on many occasions, if people do not get social care support, that has an impact on the NHS. The funding settlement for the NHS simply will not work unless we address the under-resourcing of social care.