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Social Care - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:05 pm on 7th December 2017.

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Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 2:05 pm, 7th December 2017

My Lords, with the permission of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement on social care made in another place by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for care and mental health. The Statement is as follows:

“This Oral Statement is the Government’s response to the recent Opposition Day debate on social care on Wednesday 25 October. Since that debate, the Government have announced further plans for the Green Paper on care and support for older people on 16 November. This Oral Statement reiterates the substance of that announcement while providing further detail to the House in some specific areas.

An ageing society means that we need to reach a longer-term sustainable settlement for social care. This is why the Government have committed to publishing a Green Paper by summer 2018, setting out our proposals for reform. An inter-ministerial group is overseeing this work. It builds on the additional £2 billion over the next three years that we have already provided to meet social care needs. In developing the Green Paper, it is right that we take the time needed to debate the many complex issues and listen to the perspectives of experts and care users, building consensus around reforms that can succeed. This is why we are starting a process of initial engagement over the coming months through which the Government will work with experts, stakeholders and users to shape the long-term reforms that will be proposed in the Green Paper.

The Government have asked a range of independent experts in this area to provide their views, including the leads of the two most recent reviews on social care, Andrew Dilnot and Kate Barker. We are also engaging closely with key stakeholders, along with people who use services and their carers. The Government will be hosting a number of round tables to hear a range of perspectives from those representing different constituencies, including carers, service recipients and providers, health services, financial services providers, local government and working age adults. Once the Green Paper is published, it will be subject to a full public consultation.

The Government also recognise that there is broad agreement across Parliament that reform of social care is a priority and look forward to working with parliamentarians to hear a range of views. We have already written to the chairs of the relevant all-party parliamentary groups to invite them to meet with us to discuss their priorities and perspectives for reform.

The Prime Minister has been clear that the consultation will include proposals to place a limit on the care costs that individuals face. To allow for a fuller engagement and development of the approach, with reforms to the care system and the way it is paid for considered in the round, we will not be taking forward the previous Government’s plans to implement a cap on care costs in 2020. Further details on the Government’s plans will be set out after we have consulted on the options.

The Green Paper will focus primarily on the reform of care for older people, but will consider elements of the adult care system that are common to all recipients of social care. We are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities and complex conditions are able to live healthy, independent lives and to participate fully in society.

Many of the issues and questions about the sustainability of the care system will be relevant to adults of all ages. To ensure that issues specific to working age adults with care needs alone are considered in their own right, the Government have committed to taking forward a parallel programme of work on working age social care which is being led jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government. This work will also be overseen by the inter-ministerial group to ensure close alignment with the Green Paper.

Carers are vital partners in the health and social care system. It would not make sense to pursue strategic issues related to carers in isolation from the wider work on the future of social care. They will therefore be a key part of this Green Paper. A sustainable settlement for social care will not be possible without focusing on how our society supports carers. I am committed to making sure that the issues raised with us through the call for evidence on carers in 2016 are central to any proposals for the wider social care system. Alongside this, we must continue to work to improve the experience of carers today. The Government remain fully committed to supporting carers to provide care as they would wish and to do so in a way that supports their own health and well-being, employment and life chances.

Ahead of the Green Paper’s publication, the Department of Health will also publish an action plan for carers in the new year, setting out priorities for a cross-government programme of work to support carers over the next two years. In the short and medium term, we are taking important steps to ensure that we have a stable adult social care sector. We are promoting quality care across the system and supporting the wider networks and services that keep people living independently for longer.

It is important to recognise that quality across the adult social care sector remains good overall. The October 2017 State of Care report found that 80% of adult social care settings had been rated as good or outstanding. However, the Care Quality Commission also underlined that there are substantial variations in the quality of care, depending on where people live. The Department of Health is working with the adult social care sector to implement “Quality Matters”—a shared commitment to take action to achieve high-quality, person-centred adult social care. Through our programme of sector-led improvement, we are supporting councils to make savings and improve services by promoting good practices, including new approaches.

Looking beyond social care provision, it is important to highlight the broader support and services that help people to live independently. This means that well-adapted, specialised housing is becoming increasingly important. The disabled facilities grant is a means-tested grant to help meet the cost of adapting a property for the needs of a person with a disability or support need. The autumn 2017 Budget provided an additional £42 million for the rest of the 2017-18 financial year, taking funding for this year to £473 million.

Getting social care right means a better system that everyone can have confidence in, where people understand their responsibilities, can prepare for the future, and know that the care they receive will be of a high standard and help them maintain their independence and well-being. The Government want to take the time to consult and build consensus on a long-term, sustainable settlement for the future, which includes looking at the quality of care being delivered, the funding of the system and how it will be paid for in the round”.