Additional funding for social care is important. The system has suffered significant cuts and cannot be improved without a funding deal. However, this is not the only question that needs answering. A genuinely successful social care strategy also needs to ask what state-funded care should look like, do and achieve. That is, it needs to ask how social care can actually support people to lead the best possible lives, based on what’s important to them.

Without a specific plan for this, the government risks spending large amounts of state money on making a system that doesn’t work for the people who use it more accessible or more affordable. No funding proposal alone constitutes a fully formed vision for a sustainable social care future.

As such, the success of forthcoming government policy – and the extent to which it constitutes a genuinely sustainable and lasting solution – will rely on more than the funding mechanism they select. It will also be dependent on their vision for how social care empowers people to live genuinely flourishing lives.

This briefing makes a contribution to the evidence and policy thinking on what should come alongside funding proposals. It outlines how combining funding reform with a strategic shift of care into the community – as currently being pursued by President Biden in the US – could provide this government with a more sustainable and lasting social care reform agenda. We call this Community First Social Care – anchored in care in the places ‘people call home’. More specifically, this briefing outlines the value of community care, how a shift to the community can be personalised and empowering, and the role of community care in levelling-up.