Delays to social care bill blamed for 'nervousness' among health providers

Plans for a new government policy on social care funding have been repeatedly delayed.
Plans for a new government policy on social care funding have been repeatedly delayed.

Repeated delays to a government paper about the future of social care funding has created uncertainty among healthcare companies, a senior council officer has suggested.

Andrew Balchin, from Wakefield Council, said that a lack of discussion about the issue in Parliament had led to "nervousness" in the market.

Andrew Balchin, Wakefield Council's corporate director for adults and health.

Andrew Balchin, Wakefield Council's corporate director for adults and health.

Around 6,200 adults across the Wakefield district currently receive some form of social care. About 1,000 of those are in residential homes, while most of the remainder are given support within their own properties.

But a report last week rated the state of services in the local private sector as a bigger challenge to the council than Brexit.

Mr Balchin said on Monday that there was "growing anxiety" across the UK about the increased costs of social care and how these will be met, particularly from families with relatives suffering from dementia.

Speaking at an audit committee meeting, he said: "We've been waiting for a green paper from the government for some time on the future of social care funding. There have been regular delays to that.

Around 6,000 people in the Wakefield district receive some kind of social care.

Around 6,000 people in the Wakefield district receive some kind of social care.

"Organisations within the care market, if I can call it that, have had to live with a level of uncertainty about what they can reliably invest.

"That uncertainty has led to nervousness about investment plans, and what those providers can afford."

Mr Balchin said that councils "just had to get on with things as best they can" until the government offered more clarity.

He said: "I think we've probably given up on getting an answer about when the green paper will be presented.

"We'll have to see see whether or not it will be one of the priorities of the government next few months. Whether it will be in the top few, we'll have to wait and see."

Meanwhile, an app which is helping elderly people give honest feedback about the care they are receiving, will be used more widely by the council.

The app, PerfectWard, is used by public sector bodies to help the likes of patients and care home residents answer questions about how they're being treated.

Their opinions can be submitted in confidence, with the authorities then able to deal with any problems.

Mr Balchin said: "We're going to be trialling that with a number of homecare providers so they can do their own assessments of quality of care.

"That will give us a way of allowing people to express examples of good practice, but also any concerns that they've got, so that we can then follow that up."

Local Democracy Reporting Service