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Social Care: Unmet Needs

Volume 623: debated on Tuesday 21 March 2017

14. What plans his Department has to increase the provision of social care for people with unmet needs. (909367)

Social care continues to be a key priority for the Government. That is why local authorities in England will receive an uplift in the money available for social care over the next three years of 17% in cash terms. That significant uplift will allow councils to support more people and sustain a diverse care market.

Does the Minister recognise that the figure he has just given—the additional £1 billion in the Budget—is just half of what is needed to fill the shortfall in social care? Will he tell the House what he is doing to ensure that the sector gets the additional money and to stop councils being bankrupted by their social care requirements?

The 17% cash uplift over the next three years exceeds what we have been asked for by a number of stakeholders in the sector. I have conceded at this Dispatch Box many times that the sector is under pressure. The additional moneys that we have come forward with will help to alleviate that and will make a big difference. In Lancashire, the figure is not 17% over three years; it is 18% over three years.

The Minister is quite right that central Government are providing extra money for essential care and allowing local councils to raise a precept on the council tax for social care. How will the Government ensure that councils actually spend that money on social care?

Much of the money will go through the better care fund and there is conditionality on that. We expect councils to spend this money, as they have requested it, on social care and we believe that that will be the case. We understand the pressures and have acted.

But 1.2 million older people are living with unmet care needs. The £1 billion that was announced in the Budget for this year is not enough to prop up the failing care sector, when many councils are suffering contracts being handed back. Given that 1 million people over the age of 65 do not have adult children, will the Minister explain how all those people living with unmet care needs are meant to manage?

The figure on unmet care needs comes from an Age UK analysis. I am meeting Age UK to go through its recent report, but we do not accept that analysis because the Care Act 2014, which had cross-party support, set statutory consistent definitions for what care councils have to provide. It is illegal for that not to be met, and our follow-up work with the Local Government Association has indicated that it is being met. Furthermore, we have put in a 17% increase over the next three years.