The government could come under pressure to commit far greater
resources to social care after the launch this week of an
independent review of funding for older people’s services.
The one-year inquiry, called for and funded by the health
think-tank the King’s Fund, will be headed by Derek Wanless, whose
government-commissioned review of NHS funding in 2002 led to a big
increase in health spending.
At the time, Wanless recommended a fundamental review of social
care – a call since echoed by the Association of Directors of
Social Services and left of centre think-tank the Institute for
Public Policy Research.
But the government’s failure to heed the call has led Wanless and
the King’s Fund to set up their own review. It will look at funding
pressures over the next 20 years, although it will be confined to
older people’s services only.
Wanless said: “The rate of increase of social care costs may well
outstrip health care costs because of demographicsÉ [The
review] needs to be done.”
King’s Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said he hoped the inquiry
would have the same impact as Wanless’s NHS review, adding that the
government’s policies on social care had provided “little more than
a sticking plaster”.
The government is understood to have declined to commission its own
review in case large funding increases were called for.
A Department of Health spokesperson said the Wanless inquiry would
“complement” its efficiency review of adult care, though gave no
indication of whether the forthcoming adult green paper would
tackle long-term funding.
The inquiry is expected to report in 12 months with a view to
influencing next year’s spending review.
ADSS president Tony Hunter said it could “help expose some of the
weaknesses in our overall budgetary position and encourage central
government to help us overcome them”.
It was also welcomed by the Commission for Social Care Inspection,
although chair Denise Platt questioned the decision to focus solely
on older people.
Dickson said the King’s Fund would consider launching more
inquiries into other adult client groups, although it had no plans
to review children’s services.
- More information from www. kingsfund.org.uk