(Photo: Unsplash/Claudia van Zyl)

Government reforms of social care need to start with the person and not financial costs, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Archbishop Justin Welby told the Guardian newspaper that the government needed to set out a clear vision for social care provision on a part with the NHS.

“There isn’t a clear vision for care,” he said.

“We know the vision for the NHS: ‘free care at the point of use’. You can sum it up in a sentence … We keep putting the cart before the horse.

“We keep talking about how we are going to pay for it when we don’t really know what we want to pay for.”

The pandemic has increased pressure on the social care sector, with calls for fresh investment of £7bn to prop it up.

But the Archbishop warned that making cost management a priority would be “the wrong way round” and that the government should instead put the needs of the individual first.

“You start with the value of the human being,” Welby said.

“Then you say, ‘what is the consequence of that? [in terms of the care system]’. We did that for the health service. We haven’t done that for social care.”

The Archbishop said there was a “national obligation” to provide quality social care, and that this could be achieved by a “covenant” between the state and the people in which care is seen as “a community obligation, not just a family obligation”.

“You have to have a covenantal approach which says regardless of who you are, of your economic value, of your utility, society covenants to give you the best possible care it can as you approach the end of your life,” he said.

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