The Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire) today warned that unless social care was better funded, many thousands of people would continue not to get the care they need.
The group has launched its own election manifesto with action points for change in the way we care for older and vulnerable adults in the UK.
Key amongst those is a call for ring-fenced funding for social care, to merge social care and NHS care into one department with its own cabinet post, and closer inspection of the people who commission care.
It also calls for a promise that any increase in funding for NHS care is ‘locked in’ to a corresponding increase for social care. The group wants to create a social care system where people really don’t have to sell their homes to pay for care and where providers can work towards paying staff at least the living wage.
The group’s chair, Mike Padgham said: “The clock is ticking, social care is in crisis and as we approach May’s General Election, we are yet to hear in any manifestos, any proposals for how the country is going to save it.
“Since 2010, £3.5bn has been taken from the social care system due to cuts to local authority budgets, leaving vast numbers of people without the care they need in care homes or their own home. And all the time the Government is calling for standards of care to improve, whilst starving the sector of the money it needs to survive, let alone improve.”
The group’s manifesto calls for:
- Ring-fenced funding for social care provision
- The merging of health and social care into a nationally-run, single department
- A cabinet post to be created for health and social care
- A realistic system where people don’t have to sell their home to pay for care
- Dementia to be treated as a healthcare need and therefore funded by the NHS
- The Care Quality Commission to inspect those who buy care – like local authorities and clinical commissioning groups
- Statutory periods of notice before care providers can be closed down
- Incentives to providers to improve standards
- Better partnerships with local authorities and health trusts
- Minimum agreed tariffs for an hour of home care and for care home bed stays
- Work towards paying staff at least the Living Wage
- Care providers to be able to reclaim VAT.
“As a nation we are surely judged by the way we care for our older and vulnerable people. Well at the moment that care shames us and we don’t seem to be doing anything about it,” Mr Padgham added.
“It is estimated that some 500,000 people who would have received social care in 2009 no longer qualify for it because of funding cuts and despite the ageing population.
“Politicians are quite rightly pledging to find an extra £8bn a year for the NHS but there have been no similar pledges to find the estimated extra £4.3bn a year social care is expected to need by 2020. It is nonsense to boost funding to the NHS and not automatically do it for social care at the same time.
“Surely we have learned by now that the NHS will work better with a properly-funded social care system which cares for people in care homes or their own homes and not in costly hospital beds.
“Social care makes a huge contribution to the safety and welfare of older and vulnerable adults and a major contribution to the economy too. We want people to be asking would-be MPs when they knock on their doors ‘what do you intend to do about social care?’.”