A history of social care funding reform in England: 1948 to 2023

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  • Posted:Thursday 04 May 2023

Adult social care in England – unlike health care – is not free at the point of use. Support from the state is reserved for those with both the highest level of need, and the lowest means. This means that many people have to fund their care needs themselves.

Since the 1990s, this has been widely seen to be unfair, and successive governments have attempted to reform the overall approach to funding adult social care. Here we outline the history of the past 75 years of attempts to reform how social care is funded.

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Alison Miles

Comment date
03 November 2021

Disappointed it only starts in 1997, with no mention of the cause of the problem in the first place : Thatcher’s reforms which created the false dichotomy of health v social care. The private sector took over most of the ‘social’ aspects of care and the NHS and Social Services budgets were cut.
If you can’t do your own personal care you get ill.
If you can’t shop, clean your house you get ill.
If you suffer loneliness and isolation you get ill.

David Hinchliffe

Former social worker and ex-MP,
Comment date
12 May 2023

The availability of social security benefits to top-up care costs under the first Thatcher Government was fundamental to establishing a free market in institutional care which rapidly expanded with huge amounts fo public funding. With local authority care budgets slashed at the same time, the focus of provision from then was on expanding permanent care settings rather than preventing the need for their use. It saddens me to say that I feel strongly that the provision of care within an individual's own home was better when I started in social work in 1968 than it is now. I hold Conservative Governments primarily responsible, but Labour's policies need to be much more radical. The ludicrous health/social care division (which no-one can define) must be ended for a start.

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