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Social care: Government says it’s ‘determined to get it right’ as plans for £1bn of spending unveiled

The government has revealed how it plans to spend some of the £5.4bn that will be raised by its new levy on social care over the next three years.

Setting out the social care white paper, care minister Gillian Keegan told MPs that the government is “determined to get it right”.

Elements of the plan include:

• A new repairs service to help older and disabled people live independently for longer in their own homes
• An investment of at least £300m to increase the range of supported housing and at least £150m to ensure increased take-up of technology which can help people enjoy independent living and improve care
• £500m to be spent on making sure social care workers have the right training and qualifications and feel valued

“On giving everyone the choice, control and the support to live independent lives, this requires physical and digital infrastructure,” Ms Keegan said in the Commons.

“We are investing £300m in housing. This investment will support local authorities to increase the range of new supported housing options because it’s vital that people live in their homes that meet their needs and give them the independence that they need.

“Moreover, we are setting up a new practical support service to help people with minor repairs and minor changes which will help them live independently for longer.

“This is in addition to increasing the upper limit of the Disability Facility Grant for home adaptations.”

This practical service will carry out repairs and adapt people’s homes in order to allow them to remain safe with their families or to live on their own.

Payments from the disabled facilities grant will be increased to allow for changes such as stairlifts, wet rooms and home technologies to be made to people’s homes.

The government said up to £25m will be spent on changing the services provided to support unpaid carers, as well as increasing their access to respite services.

The public will also be able to access a new website which will have easily accessible information on social care.

It comes after the government announced a 1.25% health and social care levy to pay for reforms to social care and clear the NHS backlog.

Boris Johnson has vowed to end the “unpredictable and catastrophic costs” faced by many when it comes to social care, announcing a cap on care costs for adults in England from October 2023.

This will mean there is a limit of £86,000 on how much an individual has to pay over their lifetime.

But a change to how the cap is reached has provoked controversy, with critics arguing the move will disproportionately affect the poorest recipients of care.

Labour’s shadow care minister Liz Kendall said the white paper “falls woefully short of the mark” and claimed ministers had failed to address the immediate pressures impacting upon the sector.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the government is taking carers and their loved ones “for granted yet again”.

“Social care is far too important for another Boris bodge,” he said.

“Let’s finally have the serious cross-party talks we need to agree a long-term solution that ensures our loved ones get the high-quality care they deserve.”

Sally Warren, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said recent announcements from the government “do not match the ambition” set out by the prime minister when he first pledged to “fix” the social care system.

“There is nothing in the proposals that deal with some of the most urgent problems facing the sector – high levels of unmet need and a fragile provider market,” she said.

Ms Warren said she agreed with the overall vision of the white paper, but the steps set out “don’t go fast or far enough to achieve this vision and the funding allocated to deliver it is insufficient”.

Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said local authorities share the ambitions of the government but will need a “substantially bigger share” of the new levy to do this.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “Rather than the formula one vehicle that was required, the paper is an underpowered saloon car at best.”

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