Letter piles on pressure for social care reform

North Yorkshire’s leading councillors and chief executive have sent a letter calling on the Government and all partners to adopt a 12-point plan for a fairer and sustainable social care system.

Councillor Michael Harrison

The letter calls for a cross-party approach to bring about the comprehensive reform of social care so that people can plan for their future care needs with greater certainty and have the right kind of support to live independent lives within their own communities for as long as possible.

The County Council believes social care faces an “existential crisis” because it is reliant on “a fragmented cocktail of funding”.  Whitehall, it states, is “littered with Green and White Papers which have promised much but failed to provide the comprehensive reform that is so badly needed.”

The letter is signed by County Council leader Carl Les, chief executive Richard Flinton and Cllr Michael Harrison, executive member for adult social care and health integration, and chairs of the scrutiny of health and care and independence committees. 

It is addressed to the Local Government Association and County Council Network in support of their social care proposals and in anticipation of the Government’s forthcoming Green Paper.

The plan outlined in the letter includes proposals:

  • for long-term and fairer funding, taking into account the higher costs of providing care in rural and coastal communities (delivering services to sparse populations is double that for councils with compact, urban populations);
  • to extend National Insurance to people who work beyond retirement age with an additional premium for people aged 40 and over;
  • for a system with a minimum and maximum for how much any individual has to pay towards care costs during their lifetime so families can plan with certainty;
  • to focus on prevention for joint working between the NHS and local councils;
  • for changes to housing policy so that more bungalows are built and new homes meet ‘lifetime’ living requirements;
  • for bursaries for nurses and other care staff to address national and local staffing shortages;
  • for a radical rethink of policy to support carers; and
  • for a post-Brexit immigration policy that assists with the vital skills needed for the future of social care.

Adult social care in North Yorkshire now accounts for 45 per cent of everything the County Council spends – its largest budget. 

“The challenges are very great,” said Cllr Harrison (pictured), “and we urgently need national reform.  North Yorkshire continues to invest in front-line care services and has been making savings through innovation and reorganisation. 

“Nobody would have wanted austerity, but it has forced us to look critically at how we spend taxpayers’ money.  We are working with communities to tackle loneliness and isolation, focusing on prevention to support people to live independently for as long as possible. For example, we have built 22 extra care housing schemes, which enable people to live in their own homes with care and support available 24/7 as needed.  We have ten more in the pipeline.  This is one of the most extensive schemes of its kind in the country.

“In short, we have done much to spend public money carefully and effectively.  But still social care faces an existential crisis as a result of a welcome increase in life expectancy both for older people and for younger adults with disability, as well as an increase in mental ill-health and the fact national funding and policy has not kept pace with these changes.”

This story was published 8 October 2018