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‘Social care on its knees after broken promises for reform’

bed in a care home


The social care sector is ‘on its knees’ and in ‘desperate’ need of reform, umbrella bodies have warned the Government after years of broken promises.

In an open letter delivered to the Prime Minister this morning, 26 signatories – including Care England, Age UK and NHS Confederation – underlined their hope that plans for social care reform are included in the Queen’s Speech on 11 May.

They said failed attempts to fix the social care by successive governments has left the sector ‘on its knees’ and ‘in desperate need of reform’, which is needed to ‘protect citizens, reduce the burdens on the NHS and establish good careers in social care’.

The signatories continued: ‘The current system leaves many families struggling to survive when one of the family members needs social care. Each year thousands of people face losing their home and all their family assets, and many older people who have a family member needing care, face the prospect of financial hardship in later life.’

They also said they supported recent calls from the Health and Social Care Committee for an extra £7 billion per annum at least for the sector and a workforce strategy to avoid the risk of market collapse.

They explained: ‘These measures will help us to secure a long-term future for care, create new careers and build back stronger after the pandemic. Investing in our social care system both in terms of money and personnel is now essential.’

Commenting separately, Care England CEO Professor Martin Green, who signed the letter, said: ‘Many citizens have been so heartened to hear the Prime Minister’s commitment to reform and it is very important that it features in the Queen’s Speech.’

When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019, he said he had a ‘clear’ plan to ‘fix social care’ and introduce reform, but has not yet brought forward any firm proposals. Healthcare leaders called on him to make good on this promise in August last year.

Last month, a National Audit Office report found that the Department of Health and Social Care had not produced a workforce strategy for social care in England since 2009. The Government has delayed its social care green paper seven times since the first deadline of summer 2017.

After chancellor Rishi Sunak failed to include social care in his Budget last month, care home bosses warned that homes and hospices could close without greater levels of Government funding.

The letter in full

Dear Prime Minister,

Social care has been on the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic and we have seen over 30,000 deaths of care homes residents and nearly 900 staff.

The adult social care workforce has demonstrated tremendous commitment and resilience during this time; however, the sector is on its knees, and is in desperate need of reform in order that we can craft a long-term future, that will protect citizens, reduce the burdens on the NHS and establish good careers in social care.

Successive governments have promised social care reform but have not delivered and now the situation is desperate. Social care needs its 1948 moment to establish a long-term and sustainable future, that will be to the benefit of all citizens and the economy.

Social care is little understood but much needed and is usually accessed at a time of crisis without the information and support to make informed choices. We support the recent calls by the Health and Social Care Select Committee for an extra £7 billion per annum and for a workforce strategy. These measures will help us to secure a long-term future for care, create new careers and build back stronger after the pandemic. Investing in our social care system both in terms of money and personnel is now essential.

The current system leaves many families struggling to survive when one of the family members needs social care. Each year thousands of people face losing their home and all their family assets, and many older people who have a family member needing care, face the prospect of financial hardship in later life.

According to Age UK, 1.6 million people aged 65 and over do not receive the care and support they need and this could grow to 2.1 million people by 2030. Similarly, there is also unmet demand for people with learning disabilities; ADASS reports that in the last four years there has been a 10% increase in the numbers of younger people who require social care.

Over many years the Government has failed to heed the Low Pay Commission’s call for a national living wage, and because of the way in which some services are commissioned, it leaves thousands of people in our committed, skilled and dedicated workforce, facing the prospect of delivering essential services at below the minimum wage. As we come out of the pandemic, if we can develop a clear funding strategy for social care, we can also develop a range of careers that will provide high-quality care and support local economic development.

Many citizens have been so heartened to hear your commitment to reform, we hope to see it in the Queen’s Speech and we stand ready to support you.

Yours faithfully,

Caroline Abrahams
Charity Director at Age UK

Lord Victor Adebowale
Chair, NHS Confederation

Deborah Alsina MBE
Chief Executive, Independent Age

Baroness Brinton
House of Lords

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton DBE
House of Lords

Sir Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell
Chair, Dorson Group

Karolina Gerlich
CEO, The Care Workers’ Charity

Professor Martin Green OBE
Chief Executive, Care England

Baroness Greengross OBE
President & CEO, International Longevity Centre

Lord Howarth of Newport CBE PC
House of Lords

Baroness Jolly
House of Lords

Barbara Keeley MP
House of Commons

Rt Reverend James Newcombe
Bishop of Carlisle
Lead Lord Spiritual for Health and Social Care

Lord Rennard MBE
House of Lords

Lord Scriven
House of Lords

Baroness Thomas of Winchester MBE
House of Lords

Dr Jane Townson
Chief Executive Officer, UKHCA

Baroness Tyler of Enfield
House of Lords

Helen Walker
Chief Executive, Carers UK

Baroness Walmsley
House of Lords

Lord Warner
House of Lords

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock
House of Lords

Dr Philippa Whitford MP
House of Commons

Helen Wildbore
Director, Relatives and Residents Association

Baroness Young of Old Scone
House of Lords