Adult Social Care Services - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:43 am on 6th July 2017.

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Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 11:43 am, 6th July 2017

I shall respond to the several questions that the noble Baroness asked. She is right that the CQC made that warning last year, and that is precisely why the Government have chosen to put in additional money—£2 billion extra was announced in the spring Budget—to support the social care system and provide real-term increases in funding.

It is worth pointing out that today’s report shows that 79% of care settings received a good or outstanding rating, compared with 72% last year. There are obviously differences in the kinds of settings that were inspected; nevertheless, it shows an increase in the number of good or outstanding settings.

I completely agree with the noble Baroness’s point about patient safety. I think that the phrase “the Mum test” is both accurate and evocative. Clearly, nobody wants to choose care settings that do not pass that, and any care that is inadequate is unacceptable. However, the reason we have that information about unacceptable care settings is that this Government, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, introduced a very tough inspection regime in 2014. I believe that today’s report shows that four out of five settings that were judged inadequate on the first inspection had improved on reinspection, so the inspection regime is itself a critical part of dealing with the issue that she rightly points to.

The noble Baroness highlighted the number of beds and staffing. Around 165,000 more staff are working in the care sector, but of course care is moving more from residential homes to domiciliary settings, so the nature of care is changing there. However, more staff are going into the service and they are now being paid the national living wage.

Finally, it is fair to say that no Government have a completely unblemished record in getting to grips with the problem of funding care. The Labour Government had Green Papers, royal commissions, the Wanless review and so on; we have had other investigations. However, to go back to the beginning, the point is that we cannot wait any longer—we need to get on with this—and that is why I set out in the Queen’s Speech debate last week that the consultation that we will publish at the end of this year will look not just at an open question but at very specific proposals around floors and caps, and I hope that we will be able to build a consensus on the need to move forward.