A new report has found that short-term funding and the lack of a long-term vision has hampered planning, innovation and investment in the care sector.
The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) argues that social care sector “has long called for a sustainable, long-term funding solution for care” but that despite “many years of government papers, consultations and reviews” the Government “has not yet brought forward a reform plan”.
The NAO also found that the Government had not met previous commitments to tackle recruitment and retention challenges in the sector, nor had it developed a clear strategy to invest in new accommodation.
According to the NAO, this lack of Government oversight had “hampered local authorities’ ability to innovate and plan for the long term, and constrained investment in accommodation and much-needed workforce development”.
These problems will become even more stark as there is likely to be large increases in future demand for care. The Government projects that around 29% more adults aged 18 to 64 and 57% more adults aged 65 and over will require care in 2038 compared to 2018. Over this period, the total cost of care is projected to rise by 90% for adults aged 18 to 64, and 106% for adults aged 65 and over.
This report spells out what Labour has been arguing for years – that social care is in desperate need of reform and long-term investment. After ten years in power, the Tories still seem to be indifferent to the serious problems with recruitment, professionalisation and investment that the social care sector faces.
By refusing to provide a plan for social care, the Government is letting down the millions of people who receive care now and the millions more will come to rely on it in the years ahead.
The pandemic has shown just how much our society relies on care staff and the Government must ensure that these workers have the resources they need to provide top-quality care now and well into the future.