After an hour of careful deliberations, the POPse! Health, Wealth + Stealth session concluded that it was almost impossible to identify any golden keys that may unlock good returns for investors or people with learning disabilities in terms of bringing in new private funding streams to social care. Social care budgets are currently being cut with eligibility criteria being tightened so that only people with the very highest level of needs are recieving a service. It would seem to be virtually impossible in this economic climate to bring in new funding to enable innovation and create new approaches that would also provide a reasonable return for investors. The failure to do this means that people with a learning disability will continue to be excluded from support which could offer them fulfilment and the life opportunities and chances that they want.
For example, we know that a large number of people with a learning disability would like to be in employment. In the recent Learning Disability Coalition Survey of local authorities, 38 per cent stated that they were having to cut funding to employment services, despite the fact that even if people require support to stay in work, this will still cost less to the local authority than having to fund thiry or forty hours per week of other activities and support.
The best outcome from our conversations was to describe the steps that may enable the market to develop. Our starter suggestions were to ring fence innovation grants, to develop leadership in the sector and identify areas where the gains would be measurable in the short term. The bottom line remains that there can be no buck passing of the financing of social care from the Treasury to other places – the market is too new. Whilst in long term there is certainly potential for other funding to on come on stream, for the foreseeable future the case needs to be made for adequate public funding of social care support.
Director, The Learning Disability Coalition