Social Care - Health Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. The purpose of our inquiry has been to consider the issues facing the future of social care, and to make recommendations for consideration by the Government in advance of publication of its White Paper on social care and update on funding. Although this report will particularly focus on those people aged 65 and older, many of our recommendations are equally relevant to services for younger people who have a disability, and other people who have long-term conditions.

2. A high proportion of people require care and support at some point in their lives. Whilst families, neighbours, friends and informal, unpaid carers are the main providers of this care, many people will also need to turn to the formal social care system.[2] Unlike the services provided by the NHS, which are largely provided free at the point of need, social care services are subject to a means test and many people will be expected to pay for some or all of their care and support. This comes as a shock to many. It also serves to sustain the artificial distinction between health and social care services, making joined-up, integrated care more difficult to achieve.

3. A well-funded, fully integrated system of care, support, health, housing and other services is essential, not just to provide high quality support for individuals, carers and families, but also to provide good value to the exchequer and the tax payer. The aim of establishing such an integrated system has long been an objective of successive governments. The existing, fragmented systems are both difficult to use and expensive to provide, and funding for them (which comes from a multiplicity of sources, including local and national government spending programmes as well as private sources) is coming under increasing pressure from England's ageing population. The quality of services delivered and the outcomes achieved are highly variable.

4. This report will highlight several significant issues that the Committee has identified from the substantial body of evidence received during our inquiry. Our aim is to paint a picture of how a fully integrated system could be achieved with more efficient use of resources and the improved outcomes that it could deliver. The Committee recommends that the Government respond to the issues we have raised in its forthcoming White Paper and its proposed bill as well as in its progress report on funding reform. The Committee plans to revisit social care in the light of these documents, with a view to reviewing the progress that has been made.

2   In 2010-11 there were 1.15 million people using the care and support system provided by councils in England, and 2.12 million contacts from potential new clients, The NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care, Community Care Statistics: Social Services Activity, England 2010-11, provisional release, p 3 Back

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 8 February 2012