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Adult Social Care Strategy 'Lacks Clarity and Detail': MPs

MPs have expressed disappointment over the Government's "lack of clarity and detail" over how they intend to plug a funding gap in adult social care in England .

The Commons Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities Committee has written to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to raise concerns over the Government's "outright rejection" of its recommendation to publish a 10-year strategy for how its vision in the People at the Heart of Care White Paper would be achieved.

'No Roadmap, No Timetable'

A report by the committee last August also urged ministers to allocate additional funding in the current financial year to help ease pressure on adult social care, and to commit to funding of at least £7 billion each year to cover rising demand and costs. It argued that social care and the NHS were interdependent, and each needed to be funded sufficiently to reduce pressure on the other.

Scrutiny of the Government’s charging reforms and local government finance, unpaid carers and workforce challenges, showed a clear message that "the adult social care sector does not have enough funding either in the here and now, or in the longer-term", the report stressed. It said the Government "currently has nothing more than a vision, with no roadmap, no timetable, no milestones, and no measures of success".

Government Response 'Disappointing'

Reacting to the Government's response to the report, published on Thursday, MPs said that four of the committee's recommendations for tackling problems in the sector had been rejected. Its chair, Clive Betts MP, commented: "It is disappointing that the Government have not taken this opportunity to set out in detail, with clear milestones, how its vision in the People at the at the Heart of Care White Paper will be achieved. Adult social care needs a long-term plan to help ensure people get the support they need to remain independent at home and that the social care workforce receive the recognition and career development they deserve.

"Adult social care remains a key priority and it is of great concern that there continues to be a large funding gap which needs to be filled. Those in need of care, their loved ones, and care staff deserve better."

In a letter to the social care minister Helen Whately, Mr Betts said MPs were pleased to see that some of the recommendations relating to housing and planning, local government finance, and COVID-19 pressures had been accepted, but were concerned that the Government "has not set out information relating to how or when the accepted elements of the report will be implemented or in progress". It asked ministers to "set out how they plan to implement the accepted and partially accepted recommendations, including key milestones and at which point the Government thinks these changes will come into effect".

In its official response to the committee report, the DHSC said it had made "a significant amount of additional funding available for adult social care and discharge", amounting to "up to £7.5 billion over 2 years", and had "made good progress" towards delivering some of the commitments in the Heart of Care White Paper.