Local authority leaders have called for ‘immediate action’ on social care as part of a long-term plan to build back better from the pandemic.
In a new pamphlet setting out the priorities for social care in light of the pandemic, the Local Government Association (LGA) said the UK needs to reimagine the purpose and value of great social care with the same spirit of hope which led to the creation of the NHS.
The LGA also said that the experience of the coronavirus pandemic had shown the consequences of underfunding and the often hidden nature of social care.
The local authority body stressed that the immediate priorities included funding to meet the continuing costs of COVID-19 on social care, particularly on the care workforce and unpaid carers, and investment to tackle the funding gap between the cost of providing care and what councils pay.
They added this should help pave the way to a more properly funded, person-centred form of care that puts people in control of their lives and recognises their agency.
‘A better future for adult social care must be one of the legacies of COVID-19, which should include action on funding, workforce, meeting demand, improving choice and quality of care,’ said Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board.
‘We need a “1948 moment” which inspired the creation of the NHS for the long-term future of social care, especially in light of the devastating consequences of the pandemic for those drawing on and working in care and their families.
‘Over the last year, social care has proven that it is not simply a set of services needed by some because of age or disability, but a vital way of ensuring all people are supported to live a full life and maintain relationships and connections, whatever their circumstances, spanning various organisations, volunteers and staff.’
He continued: ‘Social care has also shown its value as an inherently local service, with councils playing a valuable leadership and coordination role in their communities.
‘Emergency funding to cope with COVID-19 costs to date has been helpful, but we need to move beyond ‘more of the same’ and the pre-coronavirus status quo, to a new era of care which puts more trust in people who draw on social care, better supports wellbeing, and enables everyone to live the lives they want to lead.
‘We call on the Government to recognise this in the forthcoming Spending Review and publish its proposals for the future of adult social care as soon as possible, before the summer parliamentary recess.’