Henrietta Frew
Senior Associate Solicitor
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Date Published:08 Dec 2021 Last Updated:18 Jan 2022

New Government White Paper on Adult Social Care Reforms

Healthcare

On the 1 December 2021, the Government published a White Paper titled ‘People at the Heart of Care’. The paper sets out the Government’s 10 year vision of how they want to transform support and care in England and uses the Care Act 2014 as a foundation for the plans. The Paper sets out three main objectives:

  1. For people to have choice, control and support to live independent lives;
  2. That people can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support; and
  3. For adult social care to be fair and accessible.

Funding pledges

Following extensive consultations and engagement with the adult social care section, the Government have announced in the White Paper a number of new funding pledges. These include:

  • At least £300 million to integrate housing into local health and care strategies, with a focus on new supported housing options.
  • At least £150 million of additional funding for greater adoption of technology and widespread digitisation across social care.
  • At least £500 million for the social care workforce, to include training and career progression.
  • More than £70 million to increase the support offered across adult social care to improve the delivery of care and support services.
  • Up to £25 million to help local areas innovate around the support and care they provide in a new and different way.
  • A new practical support service for making minor repairs and changes in peoples’ home to help them remain independent and safe.
  • Increasing the upper limit of the Disabilities Facilities Grant for home adaptions such as stair lifts, wet rooms and home technologies.
  • The White Paper also refers to the proposed increase in the National Living Wage, this in turn will see that many care workers receive a pay increase.
  • The White Paper also confirms funding for a new website to explain the upcoming changes.

The Government have confirmed in the White Paper that the above proposals will be backed by the new Health & Social Care Levy which was announced in September. The Levy commits investment of £5.4 billion over the next 3 years. A further publication concerning strategies focussing on dementia is due to be published in 2022.

Personalised care

The White Paper states that the starting point is to embed personalised care. The Paper states that this is proven to improve outcomes and enhance peoples’ quality of life. The Paper aims to provide greater choice, control and independence.

Paying for social care

The White Paper acknowledges that the full spirit of the Care Act 2014 is not currently being met and that the reforms in the Health & Care Bill will seek to rectify this. They need to do so as demand for these services increases, indeed between 2018 and 2040, the number of adults aged 85 and over is projected to increase by 77% from 1.4 million to 2.4 million.

The Government have stated that they want fair and accessible adult social care where self-funders do not have to pay more for care than local authorities. From 2022 to 2025 £3.6 billion will be provided to reform the social care charging system to enable local authorities to move towards paying care providers a fairer rate.

Reforms have also been announced whereby self-funders will not need to pay more than £86,000 for their personal care costs, but this is currently the subject of criticism and further clarification is likely to be needed on this in due course. The reforms also outline more generous means-tested support for anyone with less than £100,000 chargeable assets. Under the current system, approximately half of older adults in care receive some form of state support for their costs and after the upcoming reforms this is supposed to increase to roughly two thirds.

The proposals outlined in the White Paper also seek to address the variation in the quality and safety of care. In several local authorities 100% of social care services are rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC, while the worst performing local authorities only have 65%. Whilst care providers will be alive to the issues with CQC and their approach to inspection reports, there is evidence that suggests there is a poorer quality of care in less prosperous areas and the Government state they are committed to ‘levelling up’.

Arranging care

The White Paper outlines how the Government will invest £5 million to test and evaluate new ways to help people navigate local adult social care systems. There will also be a new obligation for Integrated Care Boards and NHS England to involve carers when commissioning care for the person they care for. From October 2023, more self-funders will be able to ask their local authority to arrange their care. This should enable self-funders to access better value care.

How can we help?

The above is a summary of an extremely important update for care providers across the country and its purpose is to help care providers more easily digest what is otherwise a very long read. Our Healthcare Team are alive to the issues that care providers face and can provide you with concise, comprehensive and practical advice. If you wish to discuss a matter, please contact Henrietta Frew by email at Henrietta.Frew@ellisjones.co.uk or phone 01202 057863.