The First UK Citizens’ Assembly on Long-term Social Care Funding in England

In England, provision of and funding for adult social care has been subject to numerous reports, commissions and Government papers which have failed to produce agreement on how to tackle the urgent need for reform.

Involve was commissioned by two UK Parliamentary Committees to run a citizens’ assembly – a representative sample of the English public – to inform their joint inquiry on the issue.

It was the first time a UK Parliament has ever run a citizens' assembly to gather public views.

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Social care provision and funding in England have been the subject of numerous reports, commissions and Government papers over many years. Despite widespread agreement on the urgent need for reform, their recommendations have not been translated into action and the social care system is faced with a dramatic funding gap.

A Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Select Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee as part of their joint inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care. While Select Committees regularly reach out and engage the public, this Citizens’ Assembly was the first held by Parliament and probably one of the largest scale and in-depth examples of public engagement undertaken so far in the UK.

It brought together 47 randomly selected English citizens to consider the question of how adult social care in England should be funded long-term. Over its course, Assembly Members took part in approximately 28 hours of deliberation, equating to a total of 1,316 ‘people hours’ of learning, deliberation and decision-making.

Through two weekends of group deliberations, followed by individual votes, Assembly Members developed a set of conclusions and recommendations on: a. how adult social care should be funded, and b. how any decision should be taken. Assembly Members worked together to develop a list of values and principles that should inform any decision about how social care in England is funded. Assembly Members also considered and expressed their preferences on the best way to fund adult social care in England in the long term in terms of the balance between public and private funding.

The recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care have been considered by the Health and Social Care Select Committee and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee as part of their joint inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care. Assembly Members hope that the government will also take note of their findings and recommendations in their efforts to address the social care funding gap.

The Liaison Committee in the UK Parliament is now running an inquiry on the effectiveness of select committees, with particular questions around public engagement methods of involving the public that have worked particularly well, such as this particular citizens’ assembly.

We are still awaiting the Green Paper from the Government outlining its plans for funding Social Care in England. This Paper is long delayed from when it was expected to be published in Autumn 2018.

More broadly speaking, using a citizens’ assembly to somehow break the deadlock around Brexit has also received cross-party support and was tabled as an amendment to legislation in Parliament recently.

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