Social Care Reform in the House of Lords: a closer look
An update from our Campaigns team
Following the receipt of a report this month on Adult Social Care, commissioned by the House of Lords a debate took place in the House. We briefed peers ahead of the debate; highlighting issues with the adult social care system.
Lord Markham, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, provided a response to the report and the debate.
Read on for more details.
While the peers’ response to the report was overwhelmingly positive, they expressed disappointment with the reply from Government which they labelled as disjointed and only looking at the short term.
Recognising the problems in the current social care system, the Lords discussed the increase in demand, lack of access, strict financial rules, and rising costs of care. They also dove into the staffing crisis, focusing on problems with recruiting and retaining care workers.
Members made it clear that unpaid carers need better support, with suggestions put forward including improving carer’s allowances, paid leave, respite care and beefing up pensions for unpaid carers.
The need for a National Carers’ Strategy was raised; the Lords noting that this should be part of a bigger plan for social care reform. They unanimously agreed that a total overhaul of the social care system is needed; highlighting the need for a long-term, integrated approach and better pay for care workers.
Private equity-owned care homes didn’t escape criticism. Members were concerned that money was going to shareholders rather than being reinvested in the social care sector.
In response to the debate, Lord Markham praised the House for working together and keeping politics out of what he felt was a constructive conversation. He highlighted the fact that the government have invested £8.1 billion over two years to improve care packages, reduce waiting times, and boost recruitment and retention of care workers. He also drew attention to the new qualifications and training programs being developed.
Lord Markham acknowledged the role of unpaid carers and mentioned the importance of measures like respite care. He emphasised the Government’s investment in new and improved technologies for digital care planning, including AI and early warning data, which will help people be able to stay in their homes.
In a nutshell, while there is a common agreement for social care reform, the government’s response focuses on a financial boost and a comprehensive approach to tackle the issues in the sector while the Lords feel that there is need for a longer term solution.