MPs today called on ministers to outline a ‘credible, long-term plan’ to reverse the perception of English social care as a ‘source of national shame’.
In a damning report on the ‘precarious state’ of care, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) targets the Department of Health and Social Care for particular criticism, including a failure to grasp the true scale of the problem and a lack of knowledge about the real cost of care that local authorities have to bear.
It said the department was failing in its ‘overarching responsibility for the care market,’ which requires it to have ‘oversight and engagement with local authorities and providers to ensure a sustainable market delivering improving outcomes and quality’.
The PAC added the department had no means of understanding how well local authorities commission care.
Its report read: ‘The adult social care sector is underfunded, with the care workforce suffering from low pay, low esteem and high turnover of staff.
[It is in] a precarious state, but the department … has not yet said how it intends to put in place a long-term, sustainable funding regime to meet the ever-increasing demand for care.’
The report added: ‘We are concerned that the department sees the green paper on funding of care as a cure-all and underestimates the scale of the challenge.’
PAC chair Meg Hillier said: ‘We urge Government to publish this year and then implement a credible long-term funding plan for care.
‘Adult social care needs sustainable funding and a stable workforce.
'The sector is scraping by, and, without an explicit long-term plan backed by Government, it could soon be on its knees.
‘Levels of unmet need are high and rising; short-term funding fixes are a road to nowhere and the ingrained issues that lead to high turnover in the workforce could be compounded by Brexit.’