A recent report, entitled ‘Care Now and For the Future – An Enquiry Into Adult Social Care’, has controversially suggested that left over money from the NHS budget could be successfully used to solve the existing funding crisis in the division of social care. The report, compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Local Government, calculates that it would take less than half of the current annual NHS underspend to solve the current issues.
Recent figures suggest that the cost of elderly care is increasing by approximately 4.1% per year – predominantly due to the growing population of older people and the rise in average lifespan. Local councils are struggling to meet these new demands because of central Government cuts to their funding. At the same time, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has endorsed the proposals of the landmark Dilnot Report, to cap individual elderly care costs.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group claim that their solution is complete feasible, with the document concluding that “if even the amount of money currently underspent within the NHS budget were to be re-allocated towards integrated preventative services, we would be able to close the care funding gap we have identified.” A preventative measure, such as installing handrails in an elderly person’s home to help prevent falls, could save the NHS £1.20 for every £1 it spends on elderly care.
While the report acknowledges that using NHS budget surplus may not be a long-term solution, Heather Wheeler, chairperson of the All Party Parliamentary Group, commented, “We felt that although there needs to be a long term solution we have also found a short and medium term solution to close the funding gap. This is an important reply to the White Paper and I hope the Government takes our proposals forward.”
The report does not suggest a solution for funding the £1.7 billion a year cost of the Dilnot proposals to cap elderly care costs at £35,000 per person.