Is the White Paper a realistic vision for adult social care?

The Government’s White Paper sets out its 10-year vision for the future of social care, built around new investments in: housing and home adaptations, technology and digitisation, workforce training and wellbeing support and support for unpaid carers and innovation. These reforms develop the plans that the Government has previously outlined in its policy paper, Build Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care where it sets out details of the new Health and Social Care Levy.

The Adult Social Care Reform White Paper is part of a wider set of reforms, including the Integration White Paper, the Health and Care Bill and changes to the public health system. It sets out how support and care in England will be transformed, and is focused around three key themes:

  1. People have choice, control, and support to live independent lives
  2. People can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support
  3. People find adult social care fair and accessible

Taking the sector towards its 10-year vision, the White Paper sets out a range of policies to be implemented over the next three years – these measures include:

  • At least £300 million to integrate housing into local health and care strategies
  • At least £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across social care
  • At least £500 million so the social care workforce have the right training and qualifications
  • A new practical support service to make minor repairs and changes in peoples’ homes
  • Up to £25 million to work with the sector to kick start a change in the services provided to support unpaid carers.
  • £30 million to help local areas innovate around the support and care they provide in new and different ways,
  • A new national website to explain the upcoming changes
  • More than £70 million to increase the support offer across adult social care to improve the delivery of care and support services

Reaction to the White Paper

At 103 pages long, there are many laudable commitments but reactions from the sector have been mixed with Health and Social Care Committee Chain, Jeremy Hunt describing the reforms as “disappointment given the extent of the crisis in social care”.

“Providing an additional £1.7 billion in funding over three years falls far short of the annual £7 billion sum that our evidence found would be necessary to fix social care.  The White Paper states that it provides an ‘ambitious ten-year vision’, but it doesn’t acknowledge the scale of extra resource needed to realise that vision, based on the crisis the sector faces right now.”

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:

“This top level visionary White Paper sets out the Government’s direction of travel for the reform of adult social care.  Care England stands ready to help the government deliver this strategy by identifying and dismantling some of the barriers standing in the way of delivering this vision. Delivering this White Paper is going to be very difficult because of some of the major challenges facing the care sector, but we are all committed to starting on a journey that will deliver better outcomes for citizens and long-term sustainability for social care providers”. 

On workforce strategy, while the White Paper recognises the need to recruit and retain staff, with the right skills, many believe it does not go far enough. Perhaps it is time for social care’s own People Plan?


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