Minister calls for ‘meaningful conversation’ on social care funding

A ‘meaningful conversation’ needs to take place about how social care is funded in Wales, with estimates suggesting costs will grow anywhere between £30m and £327m by 2023.

Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething AM said in statement on Tuesday the quality and reach of social care had to be discussed, together with the funding required and how it would be raised.

In Wales the adult social care budget is £1.2bn each year.

‘Social care is a significant budget pressure for local government. Despite the reality of a decade of austerity, budgets have continued to rise annually by around 5.5% over recent years,’ he said.

During the address in the National Assembly for Wales Gething said: ‘The existing pressures on social care are very real.’

He said pressures existed across other demographic groups, including for working-age adults as well as for older people, and social care free at the point of need was an aspiration for many Welsh politicians.

‘However, we currently estimate that providing just free personal care and accommodation in a care home is likely to cost over £700m a year in addition,’ Gething said. ‘Our view is this would be well beyond our ability to provide, and it would not, on those figures, address staff terms and conditions. Therefore, our focus has been on developing funded options that are sustainable and deliver better quality care.’

Janet Finch-Saunders, of the Welsh Conservatives, accused Gething of looking to raise taxes in Wales. She said: ‘Before considering a levy or a tax to our people in Wales, I believe that we need to acknowledge that an extra £1.9bn will be coming to the Welsh government following increased health spending in England by the UK government.’

A consultation on social care reforms is due to start in the summer.