Social care  

Enquiry into social care funding launched

Enquiry into social care funding launched

The health and social care committee has set out to establish how much money the government would need to spend in order to plug the social care funding gap and address shortages in the workforce.

Launched today (March 10), the committee's enquiry will look to determine how much extra money the government will need to spend in each of the next five years to counteract the impact of a shortage of care on the NHS.

MPs will also consider shortages in the social care workforce and what solutions need to be found to address changes in the years ahead. 

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Committee chair Jeremy Hunt said: “This longstanding crisis comes with a huge cost to families and individuals who can’t get the social care they need. But it affects us all when a lack of availability prevents people leaving hospital, contributing to increased pressure on the NHS.

“We’ll be establishing an agreed figure that represents the extra funding that’s needed in each of the next five years in order to fix this.

“As well as extra money, we’ll be examining solutions to tackle staffing shortages in social care that would be responsive to workforce changes.”

The committee is asking for evidence before a deadline of April 14.

Jennifer Gilchrist, protection specialist at Royal London, said: "It’s vital that the social care crisis is tackled urgently and a solution is found to prevent people being hit with care bills of tens of thousands of pounds.

"In extreme cases, people can be forced to sell their family home to pay for care.”

Ms Gilchrist suggested introducing a care pension to work alongside income drawdown to allow people to pay for care insurance out of their retirement pot. 

She said: “To make this work, the government would need to make sure payments into such policies were tax-free, and would need to introduce an overall cap on lifetime care costs. 

“With these changes, millions of people could start to build up protection against the risk of facing catastrophic care costs in later life."

The government has failed to act on social care reform to date, with the long-awaited green paper, promised since 2017, put on hold indefinitely last year.

In December's Queen’s Speech, the Conservative government promised to reform social care with a three-point plan to ensure that “no one who needs care has to sell their home to pay for it”, but has failed to publish any reforms so far.

It is not known whether chancellor Rishi Sunak will address the social care issue in his Budget tomorrow.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: “With every likelihood that the demand for social care will continue to grow faster than the supply, it’s only right that we have hard facts on the amount of extra funding needed year on year to avoid piling further pressure on an already extremely stretched NHS.

“At the moment, some individuals pay for their own care and can face ‘catastrophic costs’ if needing care for several years. Others with little or no private savings or wealth will have part or all paid by the government, which in practice means from general taxation.