Councils cutting care to bare minimum

posted on 03 April 2017, updated on 03 April 2017

Social care provision is being stripped back to the bare minimum and councils are commissioning services on a 'price first, quality second' basis because of funding pressures, MPs have warned.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee said services are concentrated on those with only the most acute needs and increasingly they receive just enough support to get through the day. Some councils pay as little as £2.24 per hour for residential care and fewer than 1 in 12 directors of social care are fully confident that their local authority will be able to meet its statutory duties in 2017/18.

The government's commitment of an extra £2bn for social care over the next three years is welcome but falls short of the amount needed to close the funding gap, and an urgent review is needed to address the long-term funding of services, the committee said. The forthcoming Green Paper on social care, announced in the Budget, must look at all options, it added.

It recommends that health and social care budget decisions be taken locally, with local government involved in commissioning to ensure health services reflect local needs and existing public services. To improve accountability in commissioning, the committee called for the Care Quality Commission to oversee councils' procurement work. Councils should also carry out annual audits of services, spot-checks and ensure providers pay the National Minimum Wage.

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