Labour warns social care package 'falls woefully short' as UK Government finally unveils plans
Labour have warned the social care package “falls woefully short” after it was finally unveiled by the UK Government.
Ministers unveiled the plans Wednesday afternoon, which will see at least £300 million to increase the range of supported housing and at least £150m to drive greater adoption of technology, which can support independent living and improve care.
The plans are set out in the Government’s social care White Paper, which gives further details on how some of the £5.4 billion to be raised by the new health and social care levy will be spent over the next three years.
Setting out the proposals to the House of Commons, care minister Gillian Keegan said “this Government is determined to get it right”.
She said: “On giving everyone the choice, control and the support to live independent lives, this requires physical and digital infrastructure.
“We are investing £300m in housing. This investment will support local authorities to increase the range of new supported housing options because it’s vital that people live in their homes that meet their needs and give them the independence that they need.
“Moreover, we are setting up a new practical support service to help people with minor repairs and minor changes, which will help them live independently for longer.
“This is in addition to increasing the upper limit of the Disability Facility Grant for home adaptations.”
The practical service will enable repairs and adaptation in people’s homes to help them remain safe with their families or to live independently, the Government said.
The amount people can receive from the disabled facilities grant will be raised to enable adaptations such as stairlifts, wet rooms and home technologies.
It said up to £25m will be invested to change the services provided to support unpaid carers and increase their access to respite services.
A new website providing the public with easily accessible information on social care is also to be launched.
Shadow care minister Liz Kendall said the White Paper “falls woefully short of the mark” and that ministers have failed to address the immediate pressures facing social care.
She said: “Ministers have utterly failed to deal with the immediate pressures facing social care as we head into one of the most difficult winters on record.
“And they have failed to set out the long-term vision and reforms we need to deliver a care system fit for the future.”
Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, warned councils need a “substantially bigger share” of the new levy to do this.
He said: “Addressing unmet and under-met need, tackling rising pressures, retaining hard-working care staff, and investing more in prevention are all areas which need investment now, if we are to significantly bolster core services.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, claimed a lack of investment would not address the immediate challenges.
She said: “Rather than the formula one vehicle that was required, the paper is an underpowered saloon car at best.”
Nuffield Trust deputy director of policy Natasha Curry said: “There are positive signs. However, the Government must now rise to the challenge and back up words with the cash and bold and urgent action to pull social care back from the brink and deliver this vision.”
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