Levelling up home care capacity across England would save local authorities over £1 billion per year and prevent 80,000 over 65s from paying catastrophic care costs.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests that the risk of people having to sell their home to pay for care will be significantly reduced by providing more care in people’s homes.
But this would require a “big push” from government, the think tank argued, including a £5 billion investment in boosting home care infrastructure, such as rapid response teams, 24-hour support lines, home care packages and new technology to support patients and carers.
This would mirror moves made by the Biden administration.
New analysis from the IPPR and CF – the consulting and data science company – has uncovered a postcode lottery in home-based social care services throughout England.
The proportion of care provided at home varies considerably across different councils – from as low as 46% in Barnsley to as high as 84% in Hammersmith and Fulham.
The research suggests that levelling up home care across the country would save English councils £1.1 billion per year from their social care budgets, with new analysis showing community care is around one third of the cost of more institutional residential and nursing home options.
Along with the £5bn in investment in home care, IPPR proses that the government should introduce minimum pay standards, a new social care royal college to coordinate sectoral bargaining and provide more training and progression opportunities.
The government should also increase local commissioning capacity and expertise, the think tank suggests, by bringing more skilled staff into local authorities and introducing rigorous training in outcome-based social care commissioning.
The paper, Community First Social Care, suggests these reforms will be most effective if combined with free personal care, a popular funding reform option among politicians including Jacob Rees-Mog MP and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
Chris Thomas, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “The government needs to think through not only how social care is funded, but also how care is delivered to ensure people can lead flourishing lives, regardless of arbitrary factors like where they live.
“Anchoring care in places people call home is an important way to achieve that. Everyone should have the opportunity to receive care at home, if clinically appropriate, from the first moment they need support. The care options available to you shouldn’t depend on where you happen to reside.
“We urge ministers to deliver a funded and ambitious programme to enable care in the places people call home. A community first model of social care can save money, improve care quality, and align social care support with what people who use care want.”