Government reforms fail to secure long-term future of care services, warns The King's Fund

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Care services for older and disabled people are facing a major staffing crisis unless a long-term financial settlement for social services is secured, says a King's Fund report published today.

Almost 18 months since its original investigation into the quality of care and support services in Britain, The King's Fund has warned the government that its recent increases in social care funding will work in the short term only.

Unfinished Business: Is a crisis in care still looming? reviews the progress made in the care sector since the publication of The King's Fund's Future Imperfect? report last June.

Since then the government, in its April Budget, announced a six per cent increase in social services funding for each of the next three years; local authority employers agreed low paid care workers should receive a 10 per cent average increase over two years; and older people will be able to opt for direct payments, giving them greater control and choice over the care they want.

Speaking today at the launch of the report, National Pensioners' Convention president Rodney Bickerstaffe said:

'Social care has long been the Cinderella service of the welfare state - and despite some additional resources from Government - it is still unable to meet the needs of many older and vulnerable people. The under-funding of social care must be pushed higher up the political agenda.'

Report author Janice Robinson, The King's Fund senior adviser on health and social care, said:

'We acknowledge government efforts to stabilise the care sector by injecting new cash into social care, but the picture for the long-term future of social care remains unclear.

'There are no signs yet of political responses that address the historic imbalance of investment between the NHS and social services. Without attention to this underlying cause of capacity problems in the care sector, the impending crisis in care services may have been delayed for a time, only to loom once again as the short-term fixes expire.'

The report calls for a radical review of the public funding of care services, in a similar vein to the Wanless review of NHS finances as Derek Wanless himself suggested, to enable a longer-term financial settlement for social care to be achieved. It also demands that the low pay and status associated with care and support work is tackled to make care work more attractive to new entrants, and to existing staff who may be tempted to leave for other jobs.

Notes to editors

Unfinished Business: Is a crisis in care still looming? is by Janice Robinson.

The report will be launched on Wednesday, 13 November at a breakfast discussion between 8.30 and 10am at the King's Fund, 11-13 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0AN. The discussion will feature two speakers: King's Fund senior adviser on health and social care Janice Robinson, and Rodney Bickerstaffe, president of the National Pensioners' Convention. The discussion will be chaired by BBC Social Affairs Editor Niall Dickson.

Journalists and photographers are cordially invited to the breakfast discussion. We would be grateful if those wishing to attend could contact Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927. Please also contact these numbers for review copies of the report or interviews with the author.