The government must set out how it plans to fund social care properly today, not in three years

Evan from our policy team dissects the government’s plans to deal with the crisis in social care.

The houses of parliament and big ben, viewed from an elevated angle

Today, the government finally announced its plan to deal with the crisis in social care.

We’re glad the government recognises that social care isn’t working.  

But the government needs to set out how it plans to fund social care properly today – not in three years. Its plan seems to overlook working-age disabled people, and on its own, a cap on costs to individuals won’t solve the problems faced by disabled people using social care. For many disabled people, the issue isn’t cost, it’s the underfunding of the social care system as a whole.

Extra funding must make its way to social care

The ‘health and social care’ levy will raise £36 billion over the next three years. Just £5.4 billion of that will go to social care. This will do little to deal with the fact that many working-age disabled adults often miss out on high-quality care, or miss out on care altogether.

After 2025, when the NHS backlog is dealt with, money will then be directed to social care, according to the government’s plan. But there are no guarantees. We must make sure the cash doesn’t just end up filling other gaps within the wider health care system forever – it needs to be put into social care.

While the NHS backlog does need to be cleared, the challenges facing working-age disabled people will only get worse if the social care system doesn’t get the money it needs now.

A cap on care costs is not enough

Under the government’s plans, no one will pay more than £86,000 for their care over the course of their lives. People with less than £20,000 in savings and assets would not have to pay for their care at all, up from £14,250 at the moment. People with more than £20,000 in savings and assets will have to contribute to the cost of their care, while those with other £100,000 would have to pay the full cost.

This would certainly make a difference to some people faced with care costs. But on its own, it wouldn’t solve the problems faced by disabled people who use the social care system.

Working-age disabled people are less likely than older people to have had the opportunity to save or buy their own home, meaning that the local authority are more likely to pay for all or part of their care costs. But the social care system doesn’t have the money it needs to cover these costs, leaving some people waiting for their care, receiving low-quality care, or receiving no care at all. A cap won’t solve that problem.

Don’t overlook disabled people’s experience of using social care

A lot of the coverage about social care has focused on the very large bills facing some older people who need to go into care homes, sometimes leaving them no choice but to sell the family home to pay for the cost of care.

While large bills are certainly one of the challenges facing England’s social care system, older people are just one group of people who rely on social care. A third of people who receive social care are working-age. We can’t ignore their experiences by focussing solely on one group.

Some working-age disabled people have received social care since childhood, while others begin using it as an adult because of a new condition, or one that has worsened.

But our underfunded social care system often leaves disabled people with low-quality care, or without any care at all. The past 18 months has only made this worse.