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Social Care

Volume 701: debated on Tuesday 19 October 2021

Last month the Prime Minister announced an unprecedented investment in social care to support our own futures and those of our loved ones and our growing ageing population. This investment of £5.4 billion will support the wellbeing of the 1.5 million-strong workforce, offer professionalisation and provide hundreds of thousands of training places. It will also fund supported housing, better advice and capped care costs at £86,000, removing the fear of spiralling care bills.

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s answer, but she will acknowledge that even the promised better integration of health and social care, although very welcome, will not be enough. We need a long-term plan covering workforce issues, the use of technology, and provision whereby people can live in their own home for longer if we are to achieve ultimate success. If we do not solve all those issues, then I am afraid we will not have fixed social care.

I agree with my right hon. Friend. The forthcoming White Paper on adult social care reform, which we will publish before the end of the year, will set out our vision for the sector. It will cover issues that affect care users, including housing and innovation within our housing models, access to information and advice, and funding for the workforce. I am very happy to be meeting him on 4 November in his role as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on adult social care to ensure that his insight and all the work that he and the APPG have done in this area are carefully considered.

I welcome the hon. Lady to her post. I listened carefully to what she said about the Government’s recent announcement. However, is not the reality, as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services says, that all the additional money announced is going to the NHS in the first three years and little, if any, will ever make it to social care; there is nothing to deal with the overwhelming workforce pressures and increased levels of need we are experiencing right here, right now; and we will not see a single extra minute of care and support or an improved quality of life for older and disabled people or family carers? On top of this, at £86,000 the cap on care costs will not even stop people having to sell their homes to pay for care, and the vast majority of people will be dead before they ever reach the cap because it does not cover the costs of accommodation or food. How is this a long-term solution to social care, and is the Chancellor finally going to fill these gaping omissions in his Budget and spending review next week?

I am sure the hon. Lady is in fact delighted that finally a Government have come forward with a plan for social care. In addition to that, this Government have spent an extra £34 billion this year in the NHS and we have raised the levy, which, as she says, will fund both the electives and the catch-up from the pandemic—we all know that many of our constituents need this—but there is also the £5.4 billion that is the biggest investment we have had in social care in this country. As things stand, one in seven adults over 65 face care costs of over £100,000 in their lifetime. Nobody will be forced to sell their home, as people will now have a very clear cap of £86,000 that will give families peace of mind that their assets will not be wiped out, and people can already take a deferred payment agreement so that their payments can be deducted from their estate after they die. Most people I have spoken to truly welcome this announcement and are absolutely convinced that this Government will introduce it.

We all know that when the care sector is struggling, the NHS feels the pressure, and that is certainly the case in Gloucestershire at the moment. The demand for adult social care is increasing for us locally by 4% year on year, which is higher than the average, and the huge number of requests for new care packages means that there are now delays for domiciliary care, as the market cannot respond to demand. Will the Minister, who I welcome to her new post, tell the House and the Gloucestershire care sector that the Government are working to support us? Will she meet the six Gloucestershire MPs and the leader of the council to discuss this matter?

This is absolutely vital. The recent announcement of £500 million over three years to fund social care professionalisation is very warmly welcomed by the sector. It is a sector that employs 1.54 million people. It is larger than the NHS, construction, transport or food and drink. I am of course happy to meet my hon. Friend and other Gloucestershire MPs. I know this issue is a challenge. We have some short-term actions, and it is a key pillar of our long-term reform.

With the Government introducing a health and social care levy, will the Minister ensure that social care is not at the back of the queue for spending? Can she provide clarity about every penny of Barnett consequentials that will be given to the devolved nations?

I am sure that the Chancellor will be setting out what will happen with the Barnett consequentials. Yes, this issue is important. The most important thing to say is that this is the start—we have £5.4 billion over the next three years for us to embed some of the changes we need in the system, but this levy will continue, and social care will be a big part of and a big beneficiary from that levy in the future.

Will the Minister recommend what North Northamptonshire Council has just done, which is to pay its social care workers as a minimum the real living wage and to backdate that to April this year? That would be a small step in helping with this situation.

Yes, I completely agree. Some 95% of the jobs are with private providers, so it is important that they take care of their workforce. There is a lot of competition for labour and a lot of skills shortages in our country. Most workers are on just above the national living wage, but it worries me that a third are on zero-hours contracts, so there is a lot we can do to improve the terms and conditions of the social care workforce. My hon. Friend raises a good leadership example.