The Department of Health and Social Care has pledged that the government’s forthcoming social care green paper will not lead to a “protracted debate” on the future of the sector, but committed to a funding plan for the sector as part of next year’s Spending Review.
In the department’s response to the Public Accounts Committee’s report on the adult social care workforce in England, DHSC agreed with the committee’s recommendation that “the forthcoming green paper must not be the start of yet another protracted debate about the future funding of care”.
The report also called on the department to publish a credible plan, by the end of 2018, and implement it swiftly. In its response, the government said it agreed with the recommendation but added that “the right time for agreeing adult social care funding is through the Spending Review process in 2019” rather than the green paper, which is expected this autumn but has already been delayed.
According to the government response, the green paper will set out the departments proposals for reform of the sector to put it on a more sustainable future footing.
“The government has already given significant support to local authorities to fulfil their duties,” it stated. “The 2015 Spending Review made funding available to support councils to continue to focus on core services and to increase the prices they pay for care, including to cover the costs of the National Living Wage.
“Recognising the challenges of an ageing and growing population, the Spring Budget in March 2017 also announced £2bn of new funding for social care between 2017-18 and 2019-20, ensuring councils can take immediate action to fund care packages for more people, support social care providers, and relieve pressure on the NHS locally.”
The department also revealed that the green paper will be published alongside a new plan for the NHS, which is being developed following the health service’s funding boost. Completing both together will “integrate plans for social care withthe new NHS plan”, it added, and the intention now is to publish both in the autumn.
The department pledged to “consider the many complex issues and listen to the perspectives of experts and care users, building consensus around reforms which can succeed”. The response revealed that the department has already undertaken a process of initial engagement with experts, stakeholders and users to shape the reforms of care and support for older people, “including considering the issues facing the care system and the future sustainability of the market, that will be proposed in the green paper”.