Whitehall should avoid ‘grabbing’ Health and Social Care

Friday, 12 February, 2021

South East England Councils (SEEC) polling has found that the majority of people in the region want local councils, not Whitehall, to have primary responsibility for Social Care.

SEEC was responding to publication of the Government’s White Paper ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’’ that proposes a reorganisation to bring the NHS and Councils together in Integrated Care Systems (ICS).

Polling by Savanta-ComRes of 1,000 adults across the region found:

  • A majority (54%) of respondents from the South East want local councils to have primary responsibility for Social Care.
  • This is opposed to around a third (35%) overall, that believe primary responsibility should be with central government.

SEEC Chair, Cllr Roy Perry said:

“Finding a satisfactory solution to Social Care is a matter that has been on the agenda of every Prime Minister over the past two decades, but it remains unresolved.

With Covid-19’s devastating impact upon nursing and care homes, it may be that now is the moment where Ministers decide to grasp the opportunity to fix.

The idea of enhanced cooperation and partnership on health and social care is broadly welcome. I am sure the proposed duty for local authorities to collaborate with the NHS will be well debated and discussed as details of the White Paper are fully digested.

However, at this stage, Ministers should note, and address, initial concerns raised by various health sector stakeholders about the potential for a Whitehall ‘power grab’.

Indeed, any attempt to bring about a strongly centralised control of social care would fly in the face of what our polling found.

The provision of quality, accessible social care is a nationwide challenge, but better tackled at the more practicial and responsive local level. However, Social Care should not be primarily a funding burden placed on local Council Tax.

There is a national role for funding, but a local need to drive operational management. 

The Government has an opportunity to rebalance national spending to underpin an integrated care system that harnesses local authority experience and local NHS expertise in order to meet what will continue to be, growing demand.

Regional demographic profiles should of course be a key factor in funding considerations.


Notes to editors:

  1. Councillor Roy Perry is available for interview.
  1. With most local councils as members, SEEC works in partnership to make the region a great place to live, work and do business www.secouncils.gov.uk
  1. SEEC is a recognised cross-party regional grouping that cooperates with the Local Government Association (LGA).
  1. Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,043 people between 4th and 17th September 2020:
  • 261 Councillors with data weighted by Council type, control, Party and Gender
  • 278 Business decision makers with data weighted to be representative of

South East England by Industry & Sector type

  • 504 Members of the Public (18+) with data weighted to be representative of South East England adults by Age, Gender and Count

Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables available at www.comresglobal.com

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