The Government recognise the pressures faced by local authorities and have provided additional dedicated funding for adult social care, including the £2 billion announced in the spring Budget.
In the Budget statement, the words “social care” did not pass the Chancellor’s lips. Indeed, in response to a written question, he said that he really did not give any consideration to the funding needs for social care for the next financial year, although the Local Government Association estimates that there is a shortfall of about £3 billion. Does the Secretary of State agree with the Chancellor that no more money is needed for social care, or will he press the Chancellor for a rethink?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for the work that the Select Committee, under his leadership, does on social care. I listen carefully to the issues that he brings up, and I am sure he will recognise that this £2 billion over the next three years will make a huge difference, and means that £9.25 billion will be dedicated to this over the next three years. There are longer-term issues and some real challenges, and that is why we will bring forward a Green Paper on social care next year.
I was rather stunned to find out that local authorities do not have to consider the quality of care when offering a care home place. According to the Care Quality Commission, that means vast numbers of elderly people are being forced to live in facilities that are either inadequate or require improvement. The profit-making sector is failing, but rather than pass the buck to local authorities, which are cash-starved, what will the Secretary of State do to ensure there is enough money in the system to enable every elderly person to live in a good home?
The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight that it is the responsibility of local authorities to help look after some of the most vulnerable people in society, and of course they should be careful about the quality of care they provide. That is why the CQC is independently involved, to look at the quality of care provided. We also have to make sure that the funding is there. As I have just said to his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), extra resources have been provided, with £2 billion over the next three years, and we are also looking at the longer-term challenges.