The Department of Health will set up a strategy team to examine the long-term funding of social care as part of a “once in a two-decade opportunity” to address the issue.
Care services minister Liam Byrne told Community Care that the team, which would report to the new director general for social care, would look at the sector’s funding needs beyond 2011, the end of the next comprehensive spending review period.
Last week, the DH announced the creation of a working group that would examine social care funding as part of its bid for the 2007 spending review (news, page 6, 30 March).
The group includes Sir Derek Wanless, whose report on the long-term funding needs of older people’s social care was published last week.
Byrne welcomed the report and said the working group would examine how to implement it. But he added that major reform to social care funding such as Wanless’s proposal to change the benefits system would need to be put in a manifesto for a general election.
There was strong support across social care for Wanless’s call for a significant increase in funding and replacing means-testing with an entitlement system for care services.
Jonathan Ellis, policy manager for health and social care at Help the Aged, said: “The government can ill afford to stand back and allow older people to continue to suffer an unfair health and social care system.”
Anne Williams, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services resources committee, said the report “encapsulated everything we’ve been saying about the under-funding of social care”.
See Poorer people may not feel benefit of Wanless funding vision and ‘We must change the way people look at social care’