The final report of the Wanless Social Care Review team, led by Sir Derek Wanless, has been published (30 March 2006), with analysis and research from LSE academics.
Securing Good Care for Older People: taking a long term view provides a comprehensive analysis of the demand for social care. For the first time, there are estimates for spending requirements over the next 20 years based on a detailed examination of the factors affecting demand and how improvements in outcomes can be achieved cost-effectively. Importantly, the review also considered whether there is a fairer and more cost-effective way of funding social care than the current means-tested system.
The Wanless Review was undertaken by a project team of economists and social care specialists at the King's Fund and LSE's Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU). LSE researchers involved were Dr Julien Forder, project manager, Dr Jose Luis Fernandez and Francesco Moscone. Professor Martin Knapp and Drs Forder and Fernandez also sat on the steering group for the project.
The project was launched in January 2005 as a major investigation into the long-term demand for and supply of social care for older people in England. Led by former NatWest Group chief executive Sir Derek Wanless, this investigation followed the two independent reviews that Sir Derek conducted for the government on future health care spending in the United Kingdom and on public health in England.
The review found that simply keeping pace with population changes caused by increasing numbers of older people - and not seeking to improve care services or the way they are funded - would require total spending (public and private) on social care for older people to increase from the 2002 level of £10.1 billion (1.1 per cent of GDP) to £24.0 billion (1.5 per cent of GDP) by 2026. Achieving more ambitious goals for social care would mean increasing GDP to 2.0 per cent by 2026.
The review found very serious shortcomings in social care provision and funding arrangements. It recommends that to enable more people to receive care fairly and cost-effectively, there should be more ambition in the outcomes sought for social care and that the current means-tested funding system should be scrapped and replaced with a partnership model. Everyone in need would be entitled to an agreed level of free care, after which individuals' contributions would be matched by the state up to a defined limit. People on low incomes would be eligible for benefits to fund their contributions.
Announcing the publication of his year-long review, Sir Derek said: "To provide good social care for older people in England in 20 years time and meet people's expectations, we will need to devote a larger share of our national income to social care. At the moment we have a safety net for poorer people but good social care should be about much more than that. We need to ensure that all older people are able to remain as healthy and independent as possible. However, the current system is failing to do this and is too focused on a small number of older people with the most significant social care needs. This will become a bigger problem as the number of disabled people rises significantly in the future.
"But money on its own will not be enough. Additional funding should be linked to a commitment to reconfigure services, demonstrating how value-for-money and fairness can be achieved. To achieve the outcomes assumed in this review, the system needs to be more universal with broader eligibility criteria."
For further information or interviews, please contact the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581.
Dr Julien Forder, senior research fellow and deputy director of PSSRU, 020 7955 6173
Dr Jose Luiz Fernandez, PSSRU, 020 7955 6160
30 March 2006