Local government seen as an obstacle to national planning for social care
Social care needs to become part of the ‘national infrastructure’ on a footing similar to that of the National Health Service, with a reduction in the role
of local authorities, according to Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green.
Interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s John Humphrys on the Today programme in the wake of a report published in the Lancet which says an extra 71,000 care home places will be needed over the coming eight years, Prof. Green said swift action was needed with planning for the next 20 to 30 years rather than focusing on a five-year timeframe dictated by the electoral cycle.
“What we need is the Government to see social care as part of national infrastructure,” said Prof. Green.
“If we want to have uniformity across the country, with everybody having the same opportunities. we’ve got to have a national policy. At the moment, what we’ve got is local authorities paying different levels for care, and some of them are totally unsustainable. That means care homes will only be developed in areas where there is proper access to funding, and because this is seen as a local rather than a national issue, we are getting a very sporadic pattern of development.”
John Humphrys suggested that responsibility needed to be removed from local authorities because different local authorities had different priorities.
“Yes indeed,” Prof. Green replied. “We need clear, national long term planning and this cannot be left to local authorities; we have seen local authority budgets squeezed year on and that is producing differential patterns of development across the country.”