Financial vacuum at heart of social care proposals undermines ambitious vision for reformed system

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Speaking in response to the publication of today’s White Paper on care and support and the progress report on funding reform, Richard Humphries at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Despite its commitment in the “programme for government” to the urgency of reform,  the government has failed to produce a clear plan for how care should be funded or a timetable for how these decisions will be considered. Nor has it acknowledged the growing pressures on the current system, maintaining instead that local authorities have sufficient funding to meet current needs. This flies in the face of evidence that care spending is falling while the numbers of people needing care is rocketing.

'There is a financial vacuum at the heart of these proposals which undermines the bold and ambitious vision for a reformed system set out in the White Paper.

'It is now unlikely that action to reform care funding will be taken this side of the next general election. The transfer of £300m from the NHS will help in the short term, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a sustainable long-term solution at a time when the NHS is facing the severest financial challenge in its history.

'The consequence of indecision will see a widening gap between the care people need and what is available and mounting pressures on reducing local authority budgets will in turn  compromise providers’ ability to maintain quality care. An increasingly crisis driven service will in turn place greater pressures on the NHS and on carers. Local authorities are being forced to target resources on people with the greatest needs making it difficult to invest in preventative services that will help avoid needs arising in the future.

'Going forward it is critical that the momentum for change over the past 13 years – 2 independent commissions, 3 public consultations and now 3 White Papers is not lost. The success of longevity and an ageing population means that soaring care costs are inevitable and a no-cost option does not exist. The need to find a sustainable way of paying for care remains as urgent as ever.'

Notes to editors

For further comment or to request an interview with Richard Humphries please contact the media office on 020 7307 2585 or 07854 146035 (out of hours)