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Social Care Services: Accessibility

Volume 663: debated on Tuesday 23 July 2019

All councils have a statutory duty to look after people’s care and support needs in their areas. In total, between 2016 and 2017, and in 2019-20, the Government have given councils access to £10 billion more social care funding.

Given that the Government have promised a spending increase for the NHS in the regions, is the Minister aware that at the current funding levels, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership will be operating on a predicted deficit of £2 billion by 2021? Will she advise on what work has been done in partnership with the GMHSCP to avoid this huge deficit?

There is no doubt that the system is under pressure, but that is why the Government have been putting an enormous amount of money in and giving councils access to additional funding to be able to address the growing need—up to £10 billion over the past three years. We know that people are living longer and living with much more complex conditions. This situation is only going to get worse, so we do need to find a more sustainable way to deal with it in the long term. The hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that Manchester will receive an additional £42.9 million for adult social care funding in 2019-20.

Figures from the Care and Support Alliance and Age UK show that at least 1.4 million older people in England are not receiving the care and support they need. We know that this figure will be much, much higher owing to the number of working-age disabled people who are being denied the care and support they need to lead better lives. Speaking as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on adult social care, how much longer do we need to wait until the Government publish the long-awaited Green Paper on social care and finally start to show some much needed leadership in this vitally important area of public policy?

First, I pay tribute to the hon. Lady for her work in the APPG on adult social care. It is really important that we have an APPG that represents this really important issue. As I said, the fact that we have an ageing population is a growing issue that we have to face as a nation, and, in fact, as a world. Her area of Wolverhampton will receive an additional £22.1 million for adult social care in 2019, but we know that that is not a long-term solution and we will be publishing a Green Paper at the earliest opportunity.

The Government’s utter chaos over Brexit has already impacted on recruitment in the social care sector. Scottish Care told the Scottish Affairs Committee that providers have lost 67% of their intake from the European economic area. The fact is that this Government’s actions are putting the health of the sick and elderly at risk. Will the Government make an assessment of how the staffing crisis in social care is impacting on the rate of hospital admissions?

The hon. Gentleman is right: we do have a number of vacancies—a large number of vacancies—in adult social care. That is why, earlier in the year, the Government announced a recruitment campaign, “Every day is different”. It ran for a few months, with enormous success. There have been 14% more apply clicks on the relevant Government jobs site as a result, so we have just announced that we are going to expand and extend that recruitment campaign, with an additional £4 million of funding.

Among those most affected by lack of access to social care are the 2,300 autistic people and people with learning disabilities stuck in inappropriate in-patient units because of a lack of funding for community placements. Labour, my party, has pledged to spend £350 million per year to support moving as many of those people as possible into community placements. I note that the Health and Social Care Secretary actually pledged extra funding for social care if he became Prime Minister, so will the Care Minister tell us if he now promises to match Labour’s pledge and ensure that autistic people and people with learning disabilities can live in homes, not hospitals?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. One of the biggest issues we have had with people with learning disabilities and autism ending up in in-patient settings is a lack of community provision. That is why the NHS long-term plan commits to an extra £4.5 billion a year for primary and community health services, and local areas will be expected to use this investment to develop the sort of specialist services and community crisis care that will help divert people away from in-patient care settings.