Dimensions is not alone in having waited not weeks, not months, but years – some might argue decades – for an announcement on a sustainable funding solution for social care. Whilst we acknowledge that today marks an end to that long wait, the reward for our patience is limited.
Adult social care needs funding right now to address issues that have been kicked repeatedly into the long grass. Plans to divert the vast majority of funds levied from National Insurance increases to the NHS for the first 3 years of this policy will mean adult social care is, yet again, the poor relation. And, with a general election looming at the point at which more money should divert to social care, I do not hold out much hope that we will eventually see the much needed rebalancing of attention and resources.
I am also concerned that whilst we wait out the first 3 years of this policy, organisations such as Dimensions may be worse off – required to meet the cost of employer’s NI contributions without sufficient funding, whilst still grappling with the implications of the pandemic and the longstanding fractures in our social care system. Indeed, we estimate that the increase to employer’s NI contributions will amount to an additional £1.9 million per annum for our organisation and it is as yet unclear whether government will help us to meet those costs.
Perhaps most importantly, there is much more to reforming adult social care than deciding how we raise the funds to do so. I am pleased to see the announcement of a White Paper that will address broader issues, such as recruitment, skills and training, professionalization and the choice and control individuals have over the care they receive. Though I question why the government has not brought forward these proposals today, to enable a holistic approach to social care reform, I urge them to see the White Paper as a once in a generation opportunity create a social care system of which we can all be proud and to which we can all have recourse, should we need it.
Steve Scown, CEO