Local Government and Social Care Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 6:46 pm, 24th April 2019

I want to make some progress, because a number of Members have made a lot of points and I want to try to cover them, but I will come back to those who want to ask questions.

My hon. Friend Maria Caulfield said, in the words of Bananarama, that “it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it”. She highlighted the innovative moves by her local council in East Sussex to look into delayed transfers of care and stepdown beds. She rightly paid tribute to the hard work of the NHS and local authority staff who do so much to stop people being trapped in hospital beds, which we know is no good for them in the long term.

My hon. Friend James Cartlidge reminded us of the parlous financial situation that we inherited in 2010, and of all the difficult decisions that have had to be made across different councils and central Government as a result. He also gave some great examples of local councils that have achieved efficiencies through innovation, technology and sensible decisions, and spoke of the need for much more honesty and transparency as we try to find a solution to the problem of adult social care.

Ms Rimmer made a thoughtful and measured speech, focusing mainly on adult social care. She spoke a lot about the workforce issue, about which I myself am particularly passionate. In February we launched an adult social care recruitment campaign called Every Day is Different. The aim is to raise the profile of the sector, and to encourage people with the right values to apply to work in this incredibly important role. The Department of Health and Social Care also funds the Skills for Care campaign to help the sector with recruitment, retention and workforce development. That includes the distribution of £12 million a year for a workforce development fund. Providers can bid for a share of the fund to help their staff to train and gain qualifications at all levels.

My hon. Friend Rachel Maclean spoke passionately about carers, who have already been described as the unsung heroes of our health and care system. My hon. Friend and neighbour Suella Braverman made a number of points, but, in particular, raised problems in relation to continuing care. NHS England has launched an improvement programme to help clinical commissioning groups to address variations in the assessment and granting of eligibility.

Mike Hill made a thoughtful and heartfelt contribution. He talked specifically about the challenges facing coastal communities. I empathised with that, as I represent a coastal community myself. He said that Hartlepool was a vibrant and welcoming place. He is a great ambassador for his constituency—as, indeed, is my hon. Friend Vicky Ford, who tells us all that her own constituency is the No. 1 place to live in the UK, and also the No. 1 hotspot for night life. I am not sure how she knows that! She spoke about the lottery of long-term care. We will seek to address the catastrophic way in which care costs can affect some individuals in the Green Paper, when it comes forward.