Ownership in social care: why does it matter and what can be done

Universal health care Aged care Disability Democratic reform United Kingdom
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This short paper sets out a vision for adult social care as a Universal Basic Service (UBS), with an emphasis on the achievement of social goals. The New Economics Foundation supports UBS as central to its mission to develop a new social settlement. In this context, ‘services’ mean collectively generated activities that serve the public interest, ‘basic’ means essential and sufficient, enabling people to meet their needs, and ‘universal’ means that everyone is entitled to services that meet their needs, regardless of ability to pay. UBS is about exercising collective responsibility to meet needs that we all share. The aim is to improve the quality and reach of existing services such as healthcare and education, and to extend this approach into areas such as care, housing, transport and access to digital information. These services represent a ‘social wage’, providing essentials that people would otherwise have to pay for. They are part of our ‘social infrastructure’ and should be treated as an investment that yields social, environmental and economic benefits. This approach is closely aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and is a crucial strategy for realising them.

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