Chris Mahony 15 October 2019

Care green paper delay causing 'instability'

The care regulator has accused the Government of aggravating the funding pressures in adult social care by stalling on the long-awaited green paper for the sector.

In its annual State of Care report published today, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) noted that last year it said “a sustainable financial plan for adult social care will be an important element of the forthcoming social care green paper”’.

In this year’s edition, the CQC says: ‘The green paper has still not been published and pressures caused by funding and workforce issues are affecting people’s ability to access services.’

Commission chairman Peter Wyman said: ‘“There is an urgent need for this solution to be prioritised by Parliament and Government – the failure to find a consensus for a future funding model continues to drive instability in this sector.’

The paper does reveal a slight improvement in overall service quality – with the percentage of adult social care services rated outstanding or good rising from 82% to 84% this year.

However, it quotes a range of evidence by charities and professional organisations – including the Institute for Fiscal Studies – highlighting the impact of local government funding cuts and warns that the social care precept will leave the sector with lower annual increases than the NHS.

CQC staff, the report says, have highlighted sustainability issues with the domiciliary care market – despite a 23% rise in providers over five years as the number of care home providers declined by 11%.

This month care home provider Four Seasons entered negotiations with the landlords of its 135 leasehold care homes after selling its freehold properties. The group said that the rental negotiations – and the selling of its freehold care homes – would ensure the continuity of care for residents that remains its priority.

The CQC said its market oversight team has been monitoring the group’s financial position for some time but that it did not currently need to formally warn local authorities of likely widespread home closures.

Following the report and the Queen’s Speech, the NHS Confederation backed the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association in urging a sustainable long term funding solution for social care.

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