What next for the social care market?

By Martin Samuels | 16 June 2021

We all know markets can be extraordinarily powerful in matching resources to demand and meeting wide variation in that demand. We only need walk down any high street, or browse the internet, to see this at work. There would therefore seem to be a good fit with the values of choice and control that sit at the heart of adult social care.

But we also know markets often don’t work, or they require considerable management to make them work, as the long list of Government market regulators demonstrates. And it is only too clear that the market in adult social care isn’t working well – too many self-funders are exposed to catastrophic costs, individuals and councils often struggle to find suitable care and support (whether at all or at an affordable cost), the sector has the highest rate of staff churn of any part of the national economy, and sudden provider failure is all too frequent. In addition, people generally only access social care at moments of distress, which puts them in a weak position, and markets tend to be less suited to deliver wider community benefits, such as social justice and the green agenda.

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