Written evidence submitted by Cllr Adele Williams, Nottingham City Council [ASC 059]
Cllr Adele Williams
Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Local Transport
How has Covid-19 changed the landscape for long-term funding reform of the adult social care sector?
Covid 19 has further highlighted the urgent need for a more sustainable long term funding settlement for adult social care. The impact on occupancy levels has drawn attention to the unsustainable business models that care home providers are operating within due to low funding levels. There is an urgent need to improve the pay, conditions, and esteem for the staff working in this sector, to ensure that the day to day demands of our growing numbers of vulnerable adults can be met; the impact of a global pandemic has stretched the workforce to its limits. The pandemic has accelerated an existing problem, increasing demand faster than expected.
How should additional funds for the adult social care sector be raised?
Central government must ensure that the proportion of government funds allocated to councils for social care is sufficient to meet the needs of the population they serve. An equitable allocation that takes account of the wealth and deprivation profile of an area is essential – for example, the amount raised through ASC precept on council tax is much more limited in some areas than others, therefore imposing a greater impact on the council tax paying populations in some areas. The income that can be raised locally is lower where the levels of deprivation, and therefore need, are higher, meaning that this is not an adequate response to the issue - but one which hits local taxpayers hard.
A plan to resource social care adequately and sustainably is long overdue. Local taxation is not the answer and the current situation is not a fair or sufficient solution to meet the gap in funding that is widely acknowledged.
I would support funding adult social care through general and progressive taxation whilst retaining the role of the local authority who are best placed to promote an asset and strengths based approached given the many and various intersections we have with citizens’ lives.
This issue though is interconnected with the increasing deprivation of communities in the years of austerity, which has bitten hard into the social and economic fabric of society. We would bear down on the drivers for increasing demand for adult social care if we were determined to support decent and inclusive employment opportunities for all of our communities, if we were better able to resource and facilitate the availability of community assets that promote physical and mental wellbeing.
How can the adult social care market be stabilised?
A sustainable long term funding settlement.
How can the adult social care market be incentivised to compete on quality and/or innovation?
The majority of providers in adult social care markets are already very motivated to provide good quality care and support, but are limited by resourcing, the ability to recruit and retain good staff, and the requirements of a regulatory system that still focuses on very traditional measures and models of good care. Further investment into partnerships, collaborative approaches is needed and commitment from central and local government to supporting providers in a collegiate and collaborative way. Focusing on requiring providers to complete ever increasing ‘checklists’ pushes them towards a focus on process and tick boxes rather than creative ways to meet people’s outcomes. A long term workforce strategy that gives recognition and value to the skills our social care staff bring to their work, is key to supporting innovation and good practice – and without decent pay and conditions for those in the sector, this will be undermined.