The UK social care system is “broken, unfit for purpose and cannot be fixed by new taxes and spending or making more people eligible for free care”, according to a new report by the right of centre think tank, The Adam Smith Institute.

The authors say that while Covid-19 has focused attention on elderly people in care homes, half of social care spending actually goes on younger people with physical, mental health or learning problems, plus help delivered to people’s own homes. The whole system is in crisis they say, distorted by “perverse incentives, unfair and woefully out of date”. 

While there has been much talk about raising public care spending and providing more free care, only widespread and disruptive change will solve the deeper problems and prevent future cases of neglect, says the report.

The think tank calls for “disruption” to the system and for “new partnerships in new markets that embrace fundamental change.”

“People aren’t looking beyond how to get more money into social care,” says the report’s co-author Eamonn Butler. “And more funding is seen as a magic bullet that would solve all the problems. But an arbitrary boost to care budgets will do little good. We can only solve the crisis in social care by looking at and radically reforming the whole system, not just one part of it.”