Documents to download

On 24 June 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Baroness Jolly (Liberal Democrat) that “this House takes note of social care provision in the United Kingdom, and the role of carers in that provision”.

The term ‘social care’ covers a wide range of support provided to children, young people, and working age and older adults, as well as their carers. This support can be provided formally, either by local authorities, private companies, charities, or other bodies; informally, by family members, friends, or neighbours; or through a combination of these. Although in practice it can include support for both children and adults, the term is often used as shorthand for adult social care in debates on the subject.

Social care is a devolved matter and provision differs across the UK:

  • In England, local authorities hold both responsibility for children’s social care and a formal role in assessing the need for and commissioning adult social care. Differences in budgets, costs and local authorities having discretion to provide adult care services to individuals outside of eligibility thresholds have led to variations across the country. The adult social care system has been the focus of longstanding calls for reform. The UK Government has said it will bring forward proposals to “fix” adult social care in England later this year.
  • In Scotland, where an entitlement to free personal social care has been in place since 2002, the Scottish Government has pledged to create a National Care Service.
  • In Wales, there is a cap on non-residential care fees and a £50,000 capital limit on residential care costs for adult social care.
  • In Northern Ireland, where the health and social care system is integrated, health and social care trusts hold responsibility for adult social care.

Carers may be professionals working in the sector, volunteers working for charitable bodies, or unpaid, so-called ‘informal’ carers within families and communities. In each of the UK’s four nations, the paid social care workforce represents a large proportion of employment. Estimates suggest there are 1.6 million people working in the adult social care sector in England alone.

There is a strong reliance on informal carers across the UK, and most adult social care is delivered in this way. Estimates for the number of unpaid carers vary. The Government’s family resources survey indicates that 7% of the population provided unpaid care in the 2019/2020 financial year. Reports suggest this number may have risen dramatically following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

This briefing provides an introduction to and overview of the subject. The House of Commons Library briefing ‘Coronavirus: Adult Social Care Key Issues and Sources’ (12 May 2021) provides further information on issues relating to adult social care in England during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 7 of 2022-23

    On 8 July 2022, the second reading of the Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill [HL] is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. The bill is a private member’s bill introduced by the Bishop of Durham. The bill would disapply provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, as amended by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, which implemented the two-child limit to universal credit.

    Universal Credit (Removal of Two Child Limit) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 7 of 2022-23
  • Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill [HL]: HL Bill 6 of 2022–23

    The Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Farmer (Conservative). It aims to allow recipients of child benefit to receive, if they wish, a higher rate of child benefit when a child is younger in exchange for a lower rate when the child is older. This would be an alternative to the current system whereby a flat rate is paid throughout childhood. Two thinktanks put forward similar proposals prior to 2010. The bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 8 July 2022.

    Front-loaded Child Benefit Bill [HL]: HL Bill 6 of 2022–23
  • Queen’s Speech 2022: Education

    Education measures in the 2022 Queen’s Speech are likely to be dominated by provisions outlined in the schools white paper, published in March 2022. In addition, proposals for new national standards on provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and legislation on school funding and the lifelong loan entitlement (LLE) are expected. A carry-over motion, agreed in April 2022, will also see the continuation of the passage of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill.

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Education