Skip to main content

Older People (Social Care)

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2011

12. What estimate he has made of the change in net public expenditure on older people’s social care since April 2010. (65119)

The latest available data on social care expenditure are for 2009-10, when net expenditure on social care for older people was £7.5 billion.

Many of my constituents will have been deeply concerned by the admission of Peter Hay, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, that nearly £1 billion is being taken out of social care budgets following cuts to local government, and by his warnings about the consequences for provision. When will the Minister deliver interim funding relief, so that patients are not stuck in hospitals because they cannot be discharged, and so that we can be sure that we will avoid a crisis in social care?

If the hon. Lady had read on, she would have found that £700 million of the £1 billion is to be found not through cuts in services, but through efficiency savings, for example through the use of telecare, which significantly reduces costs, and investment in reablement services, which save resources and help people to get back on their feet. That is all in the report that she is waving around. When it comes to investment, the Government have already made clear their commitment through the spending review, and are investing, by the end of this Parliament in 2014-15, an additional £2 billion—something that her party did not do when in government.

The extra money being given to adult social care should be good news, but in Harrow, the council, which is Labour-run, has applied the £2.1 million additional funding to redundancies in general areas, rather than passing it on to the weak and the vulnerable. Will my hon. Friend take action to ensure that the new money provided by the Government reaches the people who need it?

I am absolutely determined to make sure that the additional resources that the NHS is transferring to social care deliver real benefits for people who need social care services, protect services, and allow local authorities to make the right decisions about how they continue to support not just investment in prevention, but those most in need.

It is disappointing that we will now not see the Government’s White Paper until the spring, but will the Government agree to take forward the commission’s recommendations on national eligibility criteria and portable care assessments? The Minister will understand that that is now urgent, given the Southern Cross crisis.

The hon. Lady raises a question about eligibility; of course, we know from the latest figures in an ADASS survey that the majority of local authorities moved, under Labour, to “substantial” needs being the test for access to social care; that happened on her watch, not this Government’s watch. When it comes to portability, the Law Commission has made recommendations that the Government have to consider, and yes, we need to look to legislate on that.

The Minister was present this morning at the launch of a report on dementia care by the all-party group on dementia. He will know that the key recommendation is to shift resources from acute hospital care to more preventive services in the community. What steps will he take to ensure that that shift really happens, over and above the £1 billion that has been allocated, much of which has already been spent by local authorities on plugging the gaps caused by other cuts in their budgets?

As the right hon. Lady was at the presentation, she will know that it was also identified that we currently spend about £8 billion on dementia services, and the Audit Commission identified that we could save at least £300 million through better use of preventive and early-intervention services. The Government have set out a very clear approach. First, we need to invest in services to provide for earlier diagnosis, because that is the best way to plan for dementia. Secondly, we need investment in services in our hospitals that shorten the length of stay and deliver good quality. Thirdly, we need care homes with the right training for staff, so that they can manage dementia and behaviour problems effectively.