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Is the £1bn for social care irrelevant to the funding crisis in social care?

Clearly yes.

The money that Jeremy Hunt announced in his “fully funded” solution to social care is specifically designed to limit the amount individuals have to pay for their care so is specifically not meant to be about what councils pay for social care. The debate it is causing is about fairness – one side asking “is it fair for people to have to sell their homes to pay for care costs?”, the other side challenging “with limited resources is it wealthy homeowners who are most unfairly treated?” Let’s be clear, as interesting as the debate is, this £1bn is nothing to do with social care. It is a about how to improve fairness with limited public resources.

But no.

Even if this £1bn was put towards the social care funding challenge it would be just a drop in the ocean. Since Dilnot’s report, more than £1bn has been taken out by councils from their social care budget with much more planned. £1bn, or even several, will not solve the crisis. We need a new understanding of social care that amounts to a new social contract with the public. What these government proposals will do, if they work, is give the opportunity to shake up the whole system. For better or worse, it will fundamentally change the individual incentives within the system and the councils relationship to the 97% of older people they don’t support.

As an example of the change in approach needed, iMPOWER is pioneering work with six councils following on from the Home Truths report published in the Autumn. This argues that we need to change relationships between citizens and the state, and the state needs to sort it’s act out first – so we are working on the dysfunctional relationship between GPs and social care.

We will leave the “fairness” debate to the politicians and focus on any levers we have that give us the potential to transform the model of social care.

11th February 2013

Jeremy Cooper is a Director at iMPOWER. To contact him to discuss this blog please email jcooper@impower.co.uk or call 020 7017 8030.

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