The politicians said the massive injection of cash is necessary to protect pensioners and rescue the sector. A survey of 96 cross-party MPs and 520 councillors in England found that two-thirds believe the sum is needed. The verdict was released ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget today. A quarter of MPs believe the amount should be even higher, the study found.
A third agreed that social care reform now needs to be prioritised ahead of other policies.
The poll was conducted by Health For Care, a coalition of 15 health organisations led by the NHS Confederation.
A Health For Care spokesman said “urgent and radical reform and significant investment” is now needed to fix the social care sector.
Half of those questioned believe the sector should be funded by a new collective funding mechanism, like income tax or national insurance. Almost two-thirds believe it should receive an extra £7billion a year, in line with recommendations from the Health and Social Care Committee.
Danny Mortimer, chairman of the coalition and chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Decades of delay and inertia have left the social care system chronically underfunded and in desperate need of reform.
“As we slowly and cautiously ease out of the Covid emergency, we cannot delay this a moment longer.
“It’s clear that the tragedy of Covid has helped to cement a consensus in both Parliament and local government that urgent action is needed to fix social care.
“There is also clear cross-party support for additional resources for the sector and the need for a long-term financial and workforce plan.
“The NHS and social care work side by side. When one service does not work, the other suffers.
“The pandemic has served to shine a stark light on how fragile and severely under-resourced the country’s social care system has become.”
The NHS Confederation will publish a report setting out the full findings later this week.
As many as 35,000 elderly care home residents have died during the pandemic after Covid swept through homes.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “We all recognise that the social care system needs long-term reform and adequate funding both for its own sake and for the sake of the NHS.
“For the NHS to function effectively it is essential that social care is also functioning effectively in parallel.”
Social care includes residential care for frail pensioners who can no longer cope in their own home, but also help with washing, dressing and other everyday tasks to enable them to stay at home longer.
Fiona Carragher, director of research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We need a system fit for purpose and free at point of use, like the NHS and education, providing quality care for every person with dementia who needs it.”
The Health For Care findings were published as MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee interviewed experts about a Government NHS White Paper yesterday.
Chairman Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, questioned the replacement of the current Clinical Commissioning Groups with a new system of Integrated Care Services.
This aims to provide more “joined-up care” across all NHS and social care sectors. Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust health think tank, said: “A lot of the changes planned have already happened. This is not a big bang change.”
The Government said it is committed to social care reform and will set out proposals later this year. A spokeswoman said: “It’s crucial the care sector has the staff it needs both now and in the future, which is why we are running a national recruitment campaign – Care For Others, Make A Difference – to support providers to recruit into care roles.
“Delivering a care system that is fit for the future remains a top priority and we will bring forward proposals for social care reform later this year.
“That’s alongside the billions in additional funding we’ve provided to the sector, including over £1.4billion for adult social care, free PPE and increased staff testing to help protect staff and residents.”