Adult Social Care Committee challenges government to urgent reforms in adult social care

The Adult Social Care Committee has published its report, A “Gloriously ordinary life”: Spotlight on adult social care, on 8th December 2022

The full report can be accessed at this link:

After hearing from a range of witnesses, including disabled adults and older people, carers, service providers, local authorities, and academics, the report sets out a new approach to adult social care which calls on the Government to commit to a more positive and resilient approach to adult social care based on greater visibility for the whole sector, as well as greater choice and control for disabled adults and older people and a better deal for unpaid carers.

Rural Services Network Chief Executive Graham Biggs MBE gave evidence to the Committee and you can view his evidence at this link:

The report sets out a number of recommendations for Government who has until 8th February to respond.

Make adult social care a national imperative by:
  • delivering realistic, predictable and long-term funding;
  • delivering a properly resourced plan for supporting a highly valued workforce, building skills and remedying low pay;
  • establishing a powerful Commissioner for Care and Support to strengthen the voice and identity of the sector;
  • finally and fully implementing the principles of the Care Act 2014, rooted in wellbeing, choice, and control;
  • ensuring that the voice of social care is loud and clear within Integrated Care Systems.
Prepare for the future by:
  • recognising that more people will be ageing without children
  • investing in better knowledge and data to inform better policy.
Ensure people who draw on social care have the same choice and control over their lives as everybody else by:
  • enabling disabled people and older adults a genuine choice as to who supports them, simplifying the recruitment of personal assistants, and making access to direct payments easier;
  • providing accessible housing and assistive technology to achieve independent living;
  • working with social care staff to promote the skills to co-produce care;
  • enabling people to determine who supports them, and what relationship they want with their family and friends.
Caring for unpaid carers by providing:
  • easier access to, and an increase in Carer’s Allowance;
  • more flexible support for carers who work, including the implementation of Carer’s Leave;
  • more support from health and social care professionals to identify them, signpost support, and ensure that they get it.
Chair's comments

Baroness Andrews, Committee Chair, said:

“In this report we have revealed the impact that the invisibility of the adult social care sector as a whole has on the way we perceive and provide for adult social care. Our recommendations are intended to bring those who draw on and provide unpaid care into the daylight and that starts with changing the perceptions around care, providing the realistic financial and workforce strategies that are long overdue, and planning for a system responsive to present needs and resilient for the future.

All that will help the unpaid carer now so often at risk of poverty and ill health with a better future. But we want a better present for them too – and our specific recommendations for their support will deliver that.”

Key issues for rural communities that were raised in the report include:
  • Demographic - older residents are disproportionately represented in rural settings, with 5.8 million residents aged 65 or over currently living in rural areas… , a number which continues to grow, and gives rise to more complex and expensive care needs
  • Workforce recruitment and retention - rural areas are faced with significant issues in relation to workforce recruitment and retention; not only because of the smaller proportion of working age population to draw from, but also because of the availability of other, potentially more attractive jobs that are available, particularly in the summer in coastal and tourist areas.385 This is further aggravated by the lack of affordable housing in rural areas, which contributes to driving working age people to other, less expensive localities.
  • Geography - providing adult social care in large and remote rural areas means that there is more time and costs involved in delivering care over large distances, a lack of economies of scale and weaker markets. The distance travelled to work is also a key factor in retaining social care staff—even more key, according to models developed by Skills for Care, than contract type and zero-hour contracts. In rural areas, workers travel on average longer distances to work and between jobs compared to urban areas, which, together with the lack of affordable housing, further aggravates the workforce challenges in these localities
  • The design and delivery of adult social care policy currently does not account for these local characteristics. Witnesses described this as a failure to “rural proof” social care policy, which means examining policies from a rural perspective and adjusting them as needed to ensure that their intended outcomes can be realised in rural areas. Instead, we were told that “we see a one-size-fits-all approach.”  This was illustrated in the Government’s pledge as part of the December 2021 White Paper to invest £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and the widespread digitisation of adult social care. The investment, said one witness, is “absolutely useless” without broadband or mobile connectivity, which some rural areas do not have; and by the time they do, it is unlikely that any of the funding will be left to serve them. “What is the rural proofing in that?” they asked.

As a result, the provision of care services in rural, remote and coastal areas can be inadequate. An inquiry led in 2022 by the APPG in Rural Health and Social Care found that the provision of services in rural, remote and coastal areas is generally poorer than in more heavily populated parts of the country.


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