Care sector leaders call for overhaul of failing social care system

Further to this post, leaders from across the care sector have published an open letter in today’s Daily Telegraph calling on all political parties to work together to find a long-term solution to the funding and delivery of elderly care.

The government plans a white paper on social care reform for April and this, along with the publication of the Dilnot Commission’s inquiry into social care in the summer of last year, finally seems to be prompting proper debate.

If you’re wondering what Dilnot recommended as regards the funding of social care, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a very good analysis — here.

How social care is funded is obviously of vital importance but Dilnot seems to focus on this to the exclusion of how that care is delivered.  Given that 84% of social care is already delivered outside of the public sector health system, and social enterprises and third sector providers already have a significant stake in social care, the sector really should be focusing its lobbying and influencing efforts on this issue and making the case for a not-for-personal-profit delivery model.

There is a real danger that the more market-oriented care becomes, the less of a vocation it is — and the less we can assume it to be under-pinned by the values of dignity, respect and compassion that we all want to see.  A model of social care based primarily on profit can’t work. Commercial, for-profit providers can only maximise their profits if they drive down the costs of care (by ensuring that care takes less time, for instance), or drive down the costs of wages. Neither is a recipe for more care and compassion. But social enterprises, by retaining more surplus in the business and taking less out in the form of owners’ profits or dividends at least in theory can unlock greater resources for care at the point of delivery.

What is really needed is for existing social enterprise and third sector providers to give real, living examples of why and how their not-for-personal-profit model works better.


  1. Sue Gazey Reply

    Hi Alun

    We were only talking about this last week. We think there are some great opportunities to develop some new SE to get a grip around all of this. The difficulty is persuading the powers that be that it is a good idea. We were having a conversation with someone last week that told us one of the local authorities had reduced the number of organsiation they were contracting with from 100 to 10. Its back to the big boys I think. Also there was an indication that the big boys could sub contract but by the time everyone has had a slice etc etc there is very little money to deliver the services with a salary that is no more than minimum wage. We are going to be pursuing this over the next 12 months and try and see where it might lead. Speak soon Sue

  2. Alun Severn Reply

    I think you’re right, Sue, that there are big problems standing in the way of SEs — but there is a major argument to be won here and something of a window of opportunity in which to win it. Happy New Year, btw.

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