Only 1 in 10 MPs in England (10%) believe that the current social care system is suitable for the UK’s ageing population. And 86% of MPs in England believe a cross-party consensus is needed for a lasting settlement on health and social care. That’s according to a new poll of 101 MPs of all parties representing constituencies in England commissioned by Independent Age, the older people’s charity.
Ahead of the return of MPs to Parliament next week, the new poll by ComRes finds there are strong majorities across both major parties who believe funding for social care is inadequate, with only 1 in 5 Conservative MPs in England agreeing there is sufficient funding for social care services in either their constituency (21%) or in the UK (21%). Less than 1 in 10 Labour MPs in England say they agree that there is sufficient funding for social care services in either their constituency (8%) or in the UK (7%).
MPs in England also expressed significant concerns about the current state of social care in their constituencies only months after social care featured as a leading concern for voters in the snap General Election. Only 13% of Labour MPs in England and 35% of Conservative MPs in England believe that social care services in their constituencies are fit for purpose. There was even less confidence in social care services across the UK, with only 8% of Labour MPs in England and 22% of Conservative MPs in England believing they are fit for purpose.
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said:
“Confidence that the social care system can deal with the UK’s ageing population has virtually evaporated among Parliamentarians. The crisis in social care was front and centre in the election earlier this year, and it is clear from this poll that there is an overwhelming desire from politicians on all sides for the Government to work towards a cross-party consensus on a solution.
"The problems in social care are about more than simply finding new bits of money to pump into a system that isn’t fit for purpose. To meet current and future demand, we need to take a radically different approach, recognising the status quo has failed. The Government has promised a consultation on social care, but to work this must set out a long-term vision for health and care that has support from across the political divide. It must also lead to a lasting settlement that better integrates health and social care services and is sustainable over the years to come.”
The survey also highlighted overwhelming support for a cross-party solution on health and social care. Conservative (84%) and Labour (88%) MPs almost equally agree that a cross-party consensus is required.
This lack of confidence in the current system and desire for a cross-party approach for a solution highlights the scale of the problem that the Government has promised to address through a Green Paper on social care, although worryingly the timetable for the publication of this and its scope remains unclear. In January, Independent Age led a group of 75 organisations and expert voices to call on the Prime Minister to take a cross-party approach to review and recommend action on future health and social care funding.
Norman Lamb MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health, and Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, has been a vocal proponent of a cross-party approach to finding a long-term solution on social care, and met with the Prime Minister to discuss the issue earlier in the year. The Liberal Democrat manifesto at the 2017 General Election set out a plan to establish a cross-party health and social care convention which would carry out a comprehensive review of the longer-term sustainability of health and social care services. Reacting to this new survey, Norman Lamb MP said:
“The health and care system in England is creaking at the seams. An unprecedented number of older people need support in later life but are finding high-quality care is hard to come by. Patients are suffering from longer waiting times in the NHS, while there is evidence that the rationing of treatment is becoming more commonplace.
“The Government simply cannot afford to put off finding solutions to these problems. Without lasting reform, the most vulnerable frail and elderly people are at real risk of falling through the gaps and not getting the support they expect and deserve. While ministers have promised a green paper on the future of social care, this falls short of the fundamental review of the entire health and care system that we desperately need.
“That’s why I have been working with Independent Age and a coalition of healthcare organisations to urge the Government to work with MPs from all parties, experts from across the sector, and with older people and their families to help build a sustainable health and social care system that ensures everybody can get the treatment and support that they need.”