Headlines: March 5th, 2008

Simply moving money around Government is not the way to solve the crisis in care funding, according to the Local Government Information unit, which is advising an inquiry into long-term care and the well- being of older people. The inquiry is being conducted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Local Government and is made up of MPs and Peers with an interest in local government.

The inquiry, which is being chaired by the Sheffield Attercliffe MP, Clive Betts, will consider how older people’s place in society can be improved over the next decade against a background of rapid change in the population, greater financial restraint and people’s increasing expectations. It will look into the idea of having a national minimum standard for care and the main objectives of services for older people designed around individual needs.

Amelia Cookson, who leads head of LGiU’s Centre for Service Transformation, said the growing crisis in the funding of care needed to be addressed urgently. “But the way forward can’t be just about moving money around government. It must be about re-envisioning the place of older people in our society, and finding creative, local solutions that restore older people’s quality of life,” she said. The inquiry, she added, was an opportunity to explore the unique role of local government in finding a new path that was more efficient but also more human.

Lord Hanningfield, a member of the inquiry team and leader of Essex County Council, said his own authority was supporting more older people to live independently and to have choice and control of their own care but doing so under tight financial constraints. “Finding a sustainable and affordable social care model is one of the most important policy challenges facing our society,” he said.

The inquiry is calling for written evidence by April 29th and it will hold three roundtable discussions to bring in the opinions of local councillors, researchers, think tanks and older people’s organisations. It will publish its findings in July.