RSN Response to Social Care White Paper

Help and SUpport

The Rural Services Network welcomes the ambition of the Government in the Social Care White Paper ‘People at the Heart of Care’ published yesterday afternoon by the Government.

In particular, we welcome the Social Care Minister Gillian Keegan who stated in her speech, “We cannot be serious about Levelling Up unless we are also serious about social care”.

However, whilst there are admirable aspirations in relation to social care, RSN is concerned about whether the Government will be able to deliver on their promises and fix the broken system.

 The White Paper is based on 3 core principles,

  •  Everybody has choice, control and support to live independent lives
  • Everyone can access outstanding personalised care and support
  • Adult social care is fair and accessible for everyone who needs it

These are bold promises from the Government and recent research by the Rural Services Network and the County Council Network, The State of Care in County and Rural Areas, highlighted particular challenges for rural and county areas which would need to be specifically addressed in order to achieve these core principles.

 These challenges are:

  • Resource: Government funded support for adult social care service costs is significantly lower in county and rural areas
  • Workforce: The higher average age alongside ageing population projections within county and rural areas places a high burden on these local authorities
  • Self-Funders: The balance of adults self-funding their care is higher in rural areas and likely to be more sensitive to reforms made to the funding system
  • Care Homes: The proportion of residential care homes situated in rural locations is higher than in metropolitan areas, often encouraging service user inflow to counties
  • Sparsity: Geographical challenges in providing adult social care in large and remote rural areas, particularly the time and costs involved in delivering personal care over large distances

Local Authorities in rural areas are suffering from years of historic underfunding compared to urban areas.  They will be looking for financial reform to bridge the funding gap for Social Care budgets to ensure that they can meet growing demands on the service and current levels of unmet need.  During the Social Care Reform Statement in Parliament yesterday, Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee highlighted his concerns over the lack of solutions to address the funding to local authorities for their core responsibilities and an ‘end to the workforce crisis’.

The announcements in relation to investment in a range of supported housing options, training for the social care workforce, and a practical support service to make changes in peoples homes so that they remain independent are all welcome, but need exploring in more detail to see how they will be rolled out in rural areas.

The RSN will be examining the White Paper in more detail in the coming days to explore the detail and real implications for our rural communities and providers, and we await the Local Government Provisional Finance Settlement later this month to see if the Government will be delivering on its aspirations.




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