The need for social reform is long overdue.

The need for social reform is long overdue. After years of underfunding and a failure to improve services, social care in England is finally at breaking point. Without government intervention or an increase in funding to meet our ageing population, the funding gap will continue to widen.

Since 2011, local authority spending has declined. Despite an increasing demand and need for adult social care, gross spending fell by 8% between 2009-10 and 2015-16. According to the Guardian, spending on nursing care for older people was reported at £4.5bn – despite a projected spending need of £7bn.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies also reported adult social care funding in England as falling by 8% between 2009–10 and 2016–17. Over the same period, spending per adult fell by 13.5% in England. It is evident that, whilst the ageing population is increasing, the funding to support this is not.

The Local Government Association (LGA), acts as a national voice by working with councils to support, promote, and improve local government. They estimated in 2018 that adult social care services would face a funding gap of £1.5bn by 2019-20 and £3.5bn by 2024-25. In a recent Guardian article, the LGA demanded a “radical rethink”. But what does this actually mean?

A radical rethink

James Jamieson, Conservative Councillor and the LGA’s chair, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has proved that we need a complete reset, not a restart when it comes to the future of social care.”

The LGA suggests local decision-making on how services are shaped and integrated with healthcare is vital. They also add that a “wider vision” of the value of social care is needed for all ages and not just those in old age. Staffing needs would also need to be addressed. LGA explains that at least a further 520,000 jobs would need to be created over the next 15 years to meet the needs of growing numbers of people over 65.

Under the 2010 Labour government, Jon Glasby, a professor of health and social care at the University of Birmingham, provided a white paper demonstrating that the current system was broken. The review set out three scenarios for reform and spending. Yet no improvement was made. Despite a change in government the same year, plans were not implemented. Glasby, who is also a qualified social care worker, said: “an austerity agenda led to a decade of spending cuts, service pressures and a growing sense of crisis”.

Increase later living options

Recognising these issues, Guild Living plans to deliver over 3,000 new homes with our partners, Legal & General, over the next 5 years. Our aim is to provide age-appropriate residential homes and full on-site care, and transitional beds that will help to relieve burden on state-funded provisions. Through developing a greater number of private later living options, we believe this will help to relieve some of these already overstretched public services. For instance, according to the Telegraph, ‘residents in [dedicated] retirement communities are 80% less likely to enter hospital and 50% less likely to see a GP’.

Eugene Marchese, Co-Founder and Director at Guild Living, adds: “Ensuring that people in later life live in high-quality, safe and mentally-stimulating accommodation should be a national priority that requires urgent and immediate action from both local and central government.”.

Not only does private housing with care reduce the use of publicly funded care services, it also has significant cost benefits for our National Health Service. In Epsom, a proposed Guild Living location, 1 in 8 ambulance callouts are responding to falls. Housing LIN estimates: “For each person living in housing with care settings, the financial benefit to NHS is approximately £2,000 per person per annum (calculated as a cost-benefit to the health care system)”.

Suitable housing

Eugene adds: “The UK needs more purpose-built later living communities, ones that accommodate the individual lifestyle and health needs of their residents by including COVID-secure amenities, and on-site care if it is needed.”.

By building more suitable housing, Guild Living can help to relieve pressure on services and support people in later living environments to live healthier and independently for longer. Investing in long-term assets like suitable housing enables private capital to relieve public resources, and releases funds for others who need them.

Guild Living’s partner, L&G, is committed to ‘inclusive capitalism’, a system that “creatively puts in place ways to make more people beneficiaries of economic growth.” (Nigel Wilson, CEO). This means using investments as a force for good. Creating jobs, better infrastructure and to transform cities and towns to tackle issues such as housing, care, and ageing demographics.

Whilst it is evident a social reform is required in the public sector, there is a lot more the private sector can do to release the burden and strain on services.