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16 June, 2021 Open access

Devastating impact of Covid-19 has demonstrated urgent need for reform of social care sector, say MPs

Public Accounts Committee calls for end to 'decades of neglect' for adults needing care

The 'devastating impact' of the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need for reform of the social care sector, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.

Introducing a new report, Adult Social Care Markets, the Committee says that although governments of all political persuasions have been promising social care reform for the past 20 years -

'Regrettably, despite many government white papers, green papers, consultations, independent reviews and commissions over the years, reform has not occurred. Previous commitments made to this Committee have not come to pass; for example, to ensure long-term funding is in place or to set out plans for tackling the problems faced by the social care workforce.'

The Committee goes on to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised that care 'is not properly funded, lacks transparency and urgently needs reform', adding that -

'The current system does not work for local authorities or those paying for their own care. Funding cuts have meant that most local authorities pay providers below the costs of care. This has led to many providers living hand to mouth, unable to make long-term decisions which would improve care services. While information about care quality is available, there is a lack of transparency about what people or local authorities get for the money they spend. The Department of Health and Social Care (the Department) has poor oversight of the system and seems complacent about the risks of local market failure. Despite welcome short-term measures to help stabilise the market, the Department urgently needs to provide confidence by announcing what support will be available to help providers move beyond Covid-19.'

As a result, the Committee's recommendations include that -

PAC Chair Meg Hillier said today -

'Carers, younger and older adults needing care, and home care have seen decades of neglect, and the 1.5 million who work in care deserve much better. The reforms to address this now must include a long-term funding plan that allows local authorities and providers to innovate and improve services. We cannot afford more broken commitments on care.'

For more information, see No more broken commitments on care: underfunded, unclear, urgently needs reform from parliament.uk