Hertfordshire's adult care chief tells House of Lords of major system problems

PUBLISHED: 12:01 20 January 2019

© Shannon Fagan

Hertfordshire’s adult care boss has highlighted some of the significant issues facing the care system – both locally and nationally – during a hearing at the House of Lords.

Iain MacBeath, director of adult care services at Hertfordshire County Council, said it feels like a “sellers’ market”, where care providers can pick and choose which residents to take.

He says the current means test to determine funding is “unfair” and that a two-tier market is now emerging, for those who self-fund and those who don’t.

He also highlighted significant funding he believes needs to be injected into the system.

Mr MacBeath – who is also resources co-lead of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services – was giving evidence to the Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee as part of an ongoing inquiry into social care funding in England.

The session heard funding for adult social care had fallen by three per cent since 2009/10 – equivalent to a nine per cent drop per person.

And with much of the spending now allocated to younger disabled people – who have fewer assets to pay for their own care – it was estimated spending for over 65s could have fallen by around 25 per cent per person.

Mr MacBeath said councils had taken steps to protect social care from funding cuts – with social care now accounting for 38 per cent of council budgets, compared to 30 per cent in 2010.

But he said a number of short-term grants – amounting to £23million in Hertfordshire alone – would end in 2020.

He pointed to a national ‘shopping list’ of around £13billion he said is needed for social care – in order to increase wages and meet inflation and the demands of a growing population.

During the two-hour session, Mr MacBeath said care providers were now choosing people who have less complex needs to live in their care homes, and that some new care homes are solely focussed on self-funders.

He said the means test for financial help with care costs – set at £23,250 – is unfair.

He said: “There is a perverse disincentive to save, knowing your assets and savings could be taken away if you need social care. The system we have at the moment is far from satisfactory.”

The Lords’ inquiry is focusing on funding challenges in the sector and how they can be overcome.

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