Press Release: Lack of social care will continue to undermine levelling up agenda despite recent reforms

30 September 2021

5 minute read

  • New analysis from the Centre for Progressive Policy shows that the quality of social care provision is worse in the most deprived places than the least.
  • A&E admissions due to chronic conditions – which could be prevented by better community care - are also higher in more deprived places.
  • Unmet care needs are more than twice as high in the most deprived places than in the least deprived places, leaving relatives to pick up the pieces.
  • More than twice the proportion of women in low-income households face financial difficulties from providing unpaid care as women in higher income households.

Ahead of the government’s Spending Review, CPP’s latest Levelling up outlook explores how social care is failing ‘left behind’ communities and how the recent social care reforms will do nothing to address this.

Lack of social care provision not only puts a strain on those in need care but also on family members who provide informal care and on health services via increased trips to A&E. These challenges are more acute in deprived places where quality of provision is worse and formal care costs can be prohibitive. Those on lower incomes – often in more insecure jobs – are also less able to weather the financial impact of providing informal care.

Against this backdrop, CPP’s latest levelling up outlook finds the government’s social care reforms severely lacking.

New CPP analysis shows:

  1. Of the £5.4bn in additional funding, only £500m is allocated to professionalising the workforce, recruitment and retention. Spread out over three years that works out at GBP 108 per care worker per year. If the money was just focused on recruitment it would be equivalent to just 11,000 extra care workers a year, yet 149,000 workers left the sector in 2019/20.
  2. CPP analysis of asset depletion while in care under the new rules, shows that typical households in the North East spending three years in residential care would risk losing around 50% of their wealth and assets (including property) whereas people in the South East would only lose about 20%.
  3. The rise in national insurance to pay for all this is also ill-conceived – CPP analysis shows it will cost the social care sector upwards of £100m per annum due to employer contributions – casting another blow in their ability to improve on care quality and accessibility.

Ben Franklin, Head of Research, Centre for Progressive Policy, said:

“The current social care system is a force for levelling down rather than levelling up and the government’s reforms will not change this.

Presently, the costs of the system fall heaviest on those least able to bear them – poorer people in communities where unmet social care needs are higher and where the burden of providing care can result in a further cut to household income as informal carers are forced out of work or to reduce their hours.

While the government has committed to putting more money into social care, it is focussed on capping care costs which will disproportionately benefit the asset-rich most able to bare the financial burden of care in London and the South East. The sector will ultimately be left with scraps in order to improve the quality of care and increase accessibility for poorer people and places. It will do little to support levelling up.

With the Levelling Up White Paper and Spending Review around the corner, the government must ensure it is clear how all policies will contribute to its ‘flagship’ policy agenda rather than undermining it.”


Notes to the editor

  • The report can be found here. For enquiries, please contact Thomas Hauschildt
  • The personal financial costs of unpaid care fall hardest on the poorest women – 23% of women in low-income households faced financial difficulties from providing unpaid care in the last month by comparison to 10% in higher income households. See Health Survey for England Health Survey for England (2019), Table 18: Whether experienced financial difficulties as a result of caring responsibilities, by equivalised household income and sex
  • About CPP: The Centre for Progressive Policy is a think tank committed to making inclusive economic growth a reality. By working with national and local partners, our aim is to devise effective, pragmatic policy solutions to drive productivity and shared prosperity in the UK. Inclusive growth is one of the most urgent questions facing advanced economies where stagnant real wages are squeezing living standards and wealth is increasingly concentrated. CPP believes that a new approach to growth is needed, harnessing the best of central and local government to shape the national economic environment and build on the assets and opportunities of place. The Centre for Progressive Policy is funded by Lord Sainsbury and hosts the Inclusive Growth Network.