People at the Heart of Care White Paper Response

piece of white paper

In December 2021, the Government released their Adult Social Care Reform White Paper, “People at the Heart of Care”. The white paper outlines the Government’s vision for adult social care over the next 10 years, and also details the funding that will be implemented over the next 3 years. The actions outlined are supported by the Health and Care Levy announced in September 2021, of which £5.4 billion is allocated for investment into adult social care over the next three years.

The white paper is centred on 3 main objectives:

  • Everyone has the choice, control, and support to live an independent life
  • Tailored care and support is of outstanding quality and is accessible to everybody
  • Adult social care is fair and accessible for all those in need

Adult Social Care White Paper | Key Themes

The “People at the Heart of Care” white paper has one overarching theme which, as the name suggests, is the need to put people at the heart of their care. This person-centred care vision highlights independence, specifically empowering and enabling people to live in their own homes, in their communities, for as long as possible.

Prevention and Support

From the discussions the Government has had with people who draw on care and support, the white paper concludes that: “…the core purpose of adult social care should be to help individuals maintain or gain their independence, allowing them to have control over their lives. Rather than focusing on approaches to delivering care that intervene at a time of crisis, care and support services should intervene early to support individuals, helping people retain or regain their skills and confidence, and prevent needs from developing.”
(Department of Health and Social Care, 2021. Our 10 year vision for adult social care, People at the Heart of Care Adult Social Care Reform White Paper, p. 14. London: HH Associates Ltd)

The aims set out in the white paper focus on working to achieve this through technological advances, further investment in the workforce, and an improvement in the choice of care services available.

Technology to Empower Independence

The white paper details plans for at least £150 million of additional funding over the next 3 years in order to increase the accessibility and use of technology across social care. Digital tools and technology can improve the quality of care for everyone, and greatly assist individuals to live independently.

Alongside current assisted living technology, for example using iPads for communication, text-to-speech apps, eye gaze systems and sensors that can alert to sudden downward motions (indicating a fall), new technologies are continually being tried and tested to continue working towards bettering the lives of individuals by allowing them to regain some independence.

Appropriate Housing Adaptations to Help Individuals Receive Support at Home

In addition to the funding announced for digital and technology-based improvements, the white paper also describes a new practical support service. This service will see to minor repairs and changes in people’s homes. To go alongside this, the upper limit of the Disabilities Facilities Grant will be increased, and this will cover home adaptations such as wet rooms and stairlifts.

This will mean that people can continue to live safely in their own homes for longer, without needing to move into care simply due to lack of facilities at home. Consequently, the wellbeing of individuals will be improved as they can stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

Training and Innovation in Social Care

Another theme within the white paper is training – not just for the individuals within the workforce, but also for local areas across the country.

At least £500 million will be invested over the next 3 years to ensure the workforce have the right training and qualifications required for their roles. Furthermore, the Government wants everyone to feel recognised and valued for their role in the industry.

For local authorities, £30 million will be invested to help local areas innovate the support and care they provide, allowing them to offer more options that suit the needs of their communities and the individuals within them. A further £70 million is designated to improve the delivery of care and support services, including assisting local authorities to better plan and develop the services available.

Community Care, dedicated to keeping social workers up to date with the latest news and developments in the industry, discussed the training and innovation aspect of the white paper in more detail. You can read this here.

Care Cap

Announced in 2021, the Care Cap will come into effect in October 2023. The introduction of the new Care Cap means that anyone in England will not be required to spend more than £86,000 on their personal care in their lifetime.

Additionally, the upper capital limit will rise to £100,000 (from the current £23,250). This means that those with less than £100,000 of chargeable assets will never contribute to more than 20% of their assets per year.


This aims to make the costs incurred for people’s care fairer and more transparent.

Supporting Unpaid Carers

Support for unpaid carers is another issue addressed in the white paper. The aim is for advice, help and support for unpaid carers to be up to date and easy to access across the country.

The steps outlined to work towards this include: national services that provide information and resources; local authorities providing information on what support is available in their locality, and how to access it; personalised advice about adult social care delivered locally; empowering unpaid carers and supporting young carers by kickstarting a change in the services offered to unpaid carers and supporting the economic and social participation of unpaid carers.

A particular focus will be respite services, exploring different models of respite and any barriers that carers may come across when trying to access respite services.

Further Information

Communicating the changes is an important part of improving knowledge around social care. A new national website will be dedicated to detailing all of the plans highlighted in the white paper, and at least £5 million is being invested into piloting new ways to help people understand the care and support options available, and how to access them.

Response from Adult Social Care Industry Leaders

Since the release of the white paper, organisations within the adult social care sector have been sharing their comments and views on the white paper. The overall theme emerging is that the plans outlined in the white paper are a step in the right direction, but they don’t go far enough.

The Rural Services Network (RSN) published a response to the Adult Social Care white paper, welcoming the ambition laid out by the Government.

The RSN commented: “The announcements in relation to investment in a range of supported housing options, training for the social care workforce, and a practical support service to make changes in people’s homes so that they remain independent are all welcome but need exploring in more detail to see how they will be rolled out in rural areas.”
In research conducted alongside the County Council Network, challenges that rural and county areas face when it comes to adult social care were identified. These areas include resources, workforce, and sparsity of care options available.

Read the full response from The Rural Services Network here.

The King’s Fund produced their own vision for adult social care, in which they collated the four most important principles they believed would improve adult social care.

These were:

  • Can people get the services they need where they want them?
  • Do people have control over the services they are using?
  • Are the services of the highest quality?
  • Do more people have access to state-funded support?


The King’s Fund commented: “The White Paper only really helps with one of them: the housing measures should help some people get the services they need. But the reforms do nothing practical to give people more control over the services they use and there is little in them to improve quality.”

The housing measures are outlined as:

“At least £300 million to integrate housing into local health and care strategies, with a focus on increasing the range of new supported housing options available. This will provide choice of alternative housing and support options.”
(Department of Health and Social Care, 2021. Executive Summary, People at the Heart of Care Adult Social Care Reform White Paper, p. 7. London: HH Associates Ltd)

Read The King’s Fund full response to the white paper here.

You can read the full People at the Heart of Care – Adult Social Care Reform White Paper here.


Overall, the white paper is a positive step in the right direction. It outlines a journey to improvement for adult social care across the country, with clear areas of focus. Collaborating closely with communities and integrated care and support providers will be required to ensure these visions become a reality, and truly meet the needs of those who will use the services.

“Demand for social care services will continue to grow as a result of better diagnosis, higher survival rates for premature babies and longer life expectancies. In addition to these long-run trends, the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic on both physical and mental health will also contribute to future demand for social care.”
(Department of Health and Social Care, 2021. Who Cares?, People at the Heart of Care Adult Social Care Reform White Paper, p. 10. London: HH Associates Ltd)

With this predicted increase in demand for social care services, it is also vital that the success is measured across the three year and ten year period, to enable further improvements to be made, as well as reviewing progress more frequently to ensure the 10 year plan is on track and the services are able to keep up with the demand.


Department of Health and Social Care, 2021. People at the Heart of Care Adult Social Care Reform White Paper. London: HH Associates Ltd


Photo by Elena Joland on Unsplash

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