Tackling the challenge of social care in the first 100 days of new Government
One third of social care users are working age disabled people. In its first 100 days the next Government must put in place a long term funding settlement for adult social care that allows all disabled people to live as independently as possible.
Although it was the Coalition Government who oversaw getting the Care Act onto the statute book, it will be the next Government who will take responsibility for making it a reality. The first 100 days will be crucial in determining how successful they will be.
A sustainable funding settlement
For the one third of social care users who are working age disabled people, good social care is crucial in enabling them to work and play an active part in their community. In the context of substantial reductions to social care budgets, it is critical the next Government agrees a new financial settlement for social care so that all disabled people receive the support they need to live independently. Without this sustainable funding, the ambition of the Care Act may never become a reality.
The future of the Better Care Fund
The Government has taken a considerable first step towards integrating health and social care services through the introduction of the Better Care Fund. The Fund will support the aim of providing people with the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
However, there is a real danger that as progress is beginning to be made funding directed through the BCF will stop. Although some aspects of the Fund may continue, funding will be less coherent and less targeted. Scope is therefore looking for the next Government to continue its commitment to the Fund by extending it beyond a year. This will ensure that the benefits, both in terms of service quality and cost-savings, can be realised.
Looking beyond integrating social care and health services
Finally, the Government must look beyond integrating health and social care services. For disabled people, social care is crucial in enabling them to find and sustain employment. Integration of budgets to support outcomes for particular groups of people has been piloted before, including through the Troubled Families model. This has allowed greater flexibility in the system, recognising that investment in one funding stream can make cost savings elsewhere.
By drawing together budgets for employment support, training and social care – with joint outcomes – the next Government can start to shape integration that works for disabled people, focusing on independent living, finding and maintaining work.