MPs and ministers clash over social care ‘crisis’

Ministers and senior MPs have clashed over the care of vulnerable adults in care or in the community.

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Members of the Commons CLG select committee challenged three ministers over short and long-term funding challenges facing the social care sector.

But in a significant shift, a council that is calling for a 15% rise in council tax to fund adult social care was not condemned.

Committee chairman Clive Betts was heavily critical of the government’s approach.

“Is social care in crisis in this country at this point?” he asked.

Local government minister Marcus Jones defended the government’s position, arguing that a complex system of funding was a core part of the problem.

“We accept money is not the only game in town. We are requiring all areas to health and social care together by the end of the decade,” Jones said.

“Is that a yes or no? Probably no,” Betts replied.

Giving evidence with Jones were David Mowat, minister for communities, health and care and Penny Mordaunt, the DWP’s minster for disabled people, health and work.
They were asked to explain how joined-up ministerial work on social care was.

Mordaunt said ministers met twice a week and issues were discussed across Whitehall on a daily basis.

“It’s not just the ministers of state here. The health and wellbeing unit has been a game-changer,” she said.

Betts turned his attention to the supported housing cuts “mess” announced by the government “with the CLG not even knowing what was happening”.

Jones defended his department and admitted the Treasury had been warned against implementing the policy: “Well I wouldn’t say don’t know. There were clearly concerns raised. The government has decided to conduct its own review of supported housing.”

Betts responded: “It wasn’t the best example of thinking through the impact of a policy decision.”

Mowat claimed that at local level, Clinical Commissioning Groups in the NHS plus local authorities and others were not working together.

Committee member Mark Field asked if any of the departments had measured the levels of unmet needs.

Jones said: “The Care Act clearly puts an obligation on local authorities to assess the needs of an individual to make sure that individual is getting the care that they need.”

Mowat added: “For there to be a crisis on of two things must be happening. Local authorities not implementing the care act as expected. Or the commissioning of the Care Act is wrong. I don’t think either of those things are in place.”

He added: “The only answer I can give you on that is that a large amount of it is in respect of services that are non-statutory; things like meals on wheels.”

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