My Lords, with permission, I shall repeat as a Statement the Answer given by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in response to an Urgent Question in the other place. The Statement is as follows:
“Mr Speaker, there are few things more important to any one of us than the way in which the eldest and most vulnerable are cared for in our society. First, let me pay tribute to the 1.4 million people who work in this country’s social care sector. They support many of the most vulnerable people in our communities in the most difficult of circumstances.
I am proud that we have done more than any Government before to improve the quality of social care: introducing a tough system of CQC ratings; new qualifications for care workers; and new standards to ensure that everyone receives the highest-quality support. I am heartened that today’s CQC report, in a time of fiscal pressure, shows that 79% of providers were rated good or excellent.
The announcement that my right honourable friend the Health Secretary made on Monday set out a clear package of measures to reduce the variation highlighted by the CQC today. It is impossible to ignore the pressures that our ageing population and advances in medicine are putting on the social care system. We have seen the numbers of over-65s increase by nearly 1.2 million, or around 14%, over the last five years, and today’s CQC report shows that in some areas it is completely unacceptable that standards in some settings are below those rightly expected by care users and their families.
This Government view social care as a priority, which is why the spring 2017 Budget announced an additional £2 billion to councils in England over the next three years to spend on adult social care services. This means that in total councils will have access to £9.25 billion more dedicated funding for social care over the next three years, enough to increase social care spending in real terms. We have also been clear that later this year we will be consulting widely on the future of social care in this country, to put it on a stable footing for the future and address issues related to the quality of care and variation in practice.
My right honourable friend the Health Secretary updated the House on Monday about action we are taking to address delayed discharges from hospitals in advance of this winter. Last year, there were 2.25 million delayed discharges, up 24.5% from 1.81 million in the previous year. This Government are clear that no one should stay in a hospital bed longer than is necessary: it removes people’s dignity, reduces their quality of life, leads to poorer health and care outcomes for people, and is ultimately more expensive for the taxpayer.
Since February, there have been significant improvements within the health and care system, with a record decrease in month-on-month delayed discharges in April 2017. However, we must make much faster and more significant progress well in advance of next winter to help free up hospital beds for the sickest patients and reduce pressures on A&E, which is why we have introduced a package of measures to support both the NHS and local government to reduce delays. This package includes guidance, a performance dashboard, plans for local government and the NHS to deliver an equal share of the expectation to free up 2,500 hospital beds, and CQC reviews. We have also been clear that we will consider a review, in November, of 2018-19 allocations of the social care funding provided at spring Budget 2017 for areas that are poorly performing. We have been clear that the Budget funding will all remain with local government to be used for adult social care”.