The Road to Reform: COVID-19 as a catalyst for change in funding social care


The need to reform adult social care funding is decades overdue – and remains one of the thorniest issues on the UK political landscape. In light of COVID-19, we discuss here the issues and challenges involved in reforming social care funding and consider some of the proposals that have been put forward.








This report was updated in December 2021 to clarify the cost to government of increasing demand for social care (see page 7)

The sector entered the COVID-19 pandemic on the back foot, facing mounting levels of demand and unmet need, workforce shortages, an increasingly fragile provider market and tightening budgets. The pandemic has clearly highlighted weaknesses in the sector’s resilience – and should act as a catalyst for reform. The shift in public perception of health and care services means there may never be a better time to address the relationship between state and individual, and to consider what a reformed funding system for adult social care may look like.

We make no recommendations on a given level of spending, nor a particular system for organising the split between state/individual contributions, as these are political decisions. However, we do propose a five-point plan to inform the development of a sustainable and equitable system of funding to ensure the future of this vital sector.

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