Experts Say Government ‘Underestimated’ Social Care Reform Costs

A report by the County Councils Network (CCN) has warned that the true cost of social care reform has been underestimated by as much as £10bn, and there is an insufficient workforce in place to cope with the expected level of demand. Home Care Insight reports on the findings of the recently published Preparing for Reform report.

The plans announced by the government include an £86,000 cap on the self-funded cost of care, and a more generous means testing scheme. The plans have been criticised for not going far enough to protect families from having to sell the family home to afford care home fees.

However, industry experts say the scheme will cause a huge funding deficit among local county councils, who are already struggling to support families with the cost of social care. They also say that an extra 700 financial assessors will need to be recruited, along with an additional 4,300 staff to complete assessments and reviews.

The new National Insurance levy is expected to cover some of the costs, but this is thought to be £12bn, whereas the Preparing for Reform report estimates that the true costs will be in the region of £25.5bn.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England commented: “[The] report demonstrates that the Government has significantly underestimated the funding required by a phenomenal amount. The consequence of which is that the sector will face further additional financial pressures, on an already overburdened sector.”

He went on to add: “These reforms will be the straw which breaks the camel’s back without urgent central intervention and funding. Care England continues to work collaboratively with local and national stakeholders to ensure the reform proposals land as well as possible.”

The government insists that it has put its proposals to an extensive peer review process, and that they were working closely with local authorities and care providers. However, Home Care Insight reports that nearly two-thirds of councils are in favour of delaying the reforms beyond next autumn, as they do not feel ready to implement the changes.

Mr Green added to his statement: “However, the outcome of this report demonstrates that Care England’s argument that the current funds allocated to social care reform are grossly inadequate is accurate and reflective of the reality of the current situation the care sector is in.”

“The Government must address these findings and commit to providing additional financial resources to see these reforms to fruition to secure a sustainable and financially viable care sector for the future.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has responded to the criticism by saying that the government intends to invest £5.4bn over the next three years. It claims that the Health and Social Care Levy will lead to major improvements in the access to adult social care in England. It also insists that the changes will mean a fairer cost of care for everyone involved.


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