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Social care white paper: BASW England response

This week the Government released its long-awaited White Paper, which sets out a 10-year vision for reform that seeks to put people at the centre of social care

BASW England welcomes the long-awaited proposals from Government but concerns remain around funding and long term ability to implement their vision.

This week the Government finally released its long-awaited White Paper, People at the Heart of Carewhich sets out a 10-year vision for reform that seeks to put people at the centre of social care.

After years of promise and delay, BASW England is relieved that the paper stands as an important “starting point”. The White Paper’s foundations are based on engagement with key stakeholders, including BASW based on the information we have shared promoting the role and contribution of social work.

The White Paper is based on 3 core principles:

  • Everybody has choice, control, and personalised care and fair access to adult social care
  • Everyone has access to outstanding personalised care and support
  • Adult social care is fair and accessible

Reflecting on these principles we welcome the focus on a rights-based approach, choice, and recognition of the fantastic contribution that carers make in supporting their loved ones.

We also wanted to welcome the £300 million committed to support local authorities to integrate housing into local health and care strategies. This includes a focus on increasing availability of supported housing options.

Our Homes Not Hospitals campaign has long been highlighting the need for the right housing for autistic people and people with learning disabilities to live good lives in the community. We look forward to exploring the plans in detail to see how they can benefit the more than 2000 people who remain in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs).

We also firmly believe that affordable and flexible housing options must be available to all citizens that need it.

However, BASW England remains concerned on several areas which we encourage Government to address as soon as possible.

Workforce pay and conditions

With an exodus of staff likely, exacerbated by the pandemic, we feel there is little set out by Government to address this directly. This is on top of the 42,000 care workers who have already left since April.[1]

We feel the funding identified is insufficient to meet the challenges set out in the paper, nor is there enough detail or clarity over how the Government intends to tackle workforce pay and conditions which would go a long way to help with the existing staffing shortfalls and retention of the existing workforce.

The extreme pressures of the pandemic have impacted dramatically on the workforce too, with increased waiting lists, growing workload and lack of availability and demand for social care services.[2]

This sets the sector up for a perfect storm this winter and potentially in the future, particularly with the growing prevalence of the Omicron covid variant.

We want to see further detail from Government on how it intends to spend the extra funds allocated over the next three years that goes beyond its broader priorities.

Workforce development

Many of the reforms set out will inevitably impact the workload of social workers and BASW England is keen to see from Government that they understand this and are willing to support the profession with the adequate resources needed.

We welcome the investment in social work training routes and education that is part of a wider £500 million invested into the social care workforce. We also look forward to the detail on the “new training routes for people who want to become social workers”. We will look to be shaping and influencing any future training offers or proposals to ensure it best the needs of the sector. 

This funding is welcome, however there is a lack of clarity around targeted spend and questions remain as to whether there will be a focus on wellbeing and development of the workforce.

We hope that new funding opportunities will enable further rollout of learning and implementation of the named social worker.

We also support proposals to deliver a digital transformation and for the utilisation of existing digital tools properly in terms of enabling people to remain in their own homes. However, we cannot assume all citizens are digital-enabled or can meet the basic costs to accommodate this.

It is also positive to see the inclusion and rollout of the Social Care Workforce Race Equality Standard (SCWRES) which is highlighted within the White Paper.

Funding to deliver the vision

The White Paper sets out the £1.7 billion of funding that was previously announced by Government to help deliver care improvements.

However, BASW England is concerned that there is no extra funding proposed beyond what was promised previously to help the sector tackle the immediate challenges of today, be that staff shortages, increased demand for care services and a reduction in the workforce available to provide support or the looming winter pressures on care services.

The long-term ambition is well-meaning but will be impossible to deliver without a commitment to properly fund these plans and address the existing issues in terms of the increasing number of people waiting for an assessment of their needs and/or for a service and make funds available for investment in good quality, sustainable community support.

The contribution of family and carers

We remain concerned that there are still millions of unpaid carers that are also working other jobs who are experiencing great hardship.

This White Paper needs to be aligned with holistic funding strategies that improve the support and experience for carers.

The White Paper refers to the fact that the “full spirit of the Care Act is not currently being met”. We think it's important to learn what the obstacles have been and how these can be avoided again in future.

Next steps

BASW England will continue to monitor the progress of this White Paper and stand ready to engage members and respond once the paper takes Bill form.

If you would like to find out more about BASW England’s response so far or share your views in relation to social care reform then please get in touch by emailing: england@basw.co.uk

 

[1] https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/chart-of-the-week-the-tumbling...

[2] https://www.adass.org.uk/snap-survey-nov21-rapidly-deteriorating-social-...