The Welsh Government has warned that all options are on the table, including a possible tax rise, to fund adult social care and make it free at the point of need, like the NHS.
Vaughan Gething AM, the Government’s Secretary for Health and Social Services, said that to have a discussion about how services are run, they need to talk about where the money is coming from.
During the last ten years, the cost of social care in Wales has gone up by 22%. The Welsh Government now spends around £1.2 billion on it every year. At the same time, local government services have been stretched by austerity measures imposed by central government.
Plaid Cymru AM, Helen Mary Jones says health and social services need to be jointly funded to promote efficiencies. She is critical of how the Welsh Government has dealt with this and says, “there’s been a real lack of courage about having [an] honest conversation with the people of Wales”.
The Welsh Conservatives also disagreed with Vaughan Gethings’ statement. Janet Finch-Saunders AM, who is their spokesperson for Social Care, Children, Young People, and Older People, says they should focus on prevention and intervention because this would be cheaper in the long-term. She also says that throwing money at a system with problems will not fix much.
It is clear that Vaughan Gething wants some form of change in the way social services are funded. He says, full re-organisation and centralisation is not possible at the moment because of the insufficient funding.
There will now be a consultation through the Spring and Summer of 2020, where there will be a cross-party discussion about the exact plans. But, Plaid Cymru have warned that this must be treated with a sense of urgency, because they have been talking about it for the last 20 years.
This is all ahead of a Welsh Assembly Election, which is due in May 2021.