Huw Irranca-Davies, the Welsh minister for children, older people and social care took a swipe at Westminster this week as he highlighted how Wales is pushing ahead with its ‘ambitious’ plan for social care.
The minister told care professionals in Cardiff: “Unlike in England, in Wales we are considering the future of health and social care together, recognising that these two domains are so inter-dependent”.
Speaking at the National Social Care Conference (NSCC), the minister referred to the Welsh Government’s report ‘A Healthier Wales, a long-term plan for health and social care’ and said the plan details steps it will take to adopt “a whole system approach to health and social care – one which focusses on health and well-being and on preventing illness.”
He told care professionals at the NSCC (11-13 September): “The plan reflects our aspiration to recapture the confidence and bold ambition that made Wales the birthplace of the greatest National Health Service in the world.
“Seventy years on, times have changed, but I am confident by working together we can develop innovative integrated models of care that place Wales as a world leader in health and social care.”
Mr Irranca-Davies said for Wales to be a social care “world leader”, the country must “get better at harnessing the knowledge, expertise and practical experience of our citizens”.
Old people should be ‘part of the solution’
He said old people should be recognised by society as “part of the solution” rather than just a source of financial pressure.
He said: “Too often older people are framed as the cause of financial pressures rather than viewed as part of the solution. The reality is that as our population ages, more and more older people are contributing to society, not only by volunteering and providing vital care to their loved ones, but also by working and paying taxes.”
Social care levy
In the last year, local authorities in Wales provided care to around 10,000 more people aged over 65 than in the previous year. The minister said he was aware of “the pressures the social care sector is facing” and described a need to be “protecting social care funding for social care”.
He said Wales’ cabinet secretary for finance Mark Drake has been considering how new taxes in Wales could help fund social care in the future, including a proposal to introduce a social care levy.
Professor Holtham recommended a social care levy in his report, ‘Paying for Social Care’, (published June 2018), which made the economic case for social insurance to fund care costs for the elderly.
Mr Irranca-Davies said the Welsh Government had commissioned ADSS Cymru [Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru] to gather a view of the future financial pressures on health and social care.
He told the audience: “This will begin to provide the evidence as to how money raised through a levy, or any other mechanism, could be used to best effect.”