A providers’ group has called on Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt to act quickly and tackle the crisis in social care.
And they have invited Mr Hunt and his new ministerial team to visit the frontline of social care delivery as soon as possible to see the situation first-hand.
The Independent Care Group says on the face of it adding social care to Mr Hunt’s portfolio gives greater profile to the care of the country’s oldest and most vulnerable.
But it says that will only count if it is backed up by some swift action straight away and not by waiting for the summer’s Green Paper.
The Group’s Chair Mike Padgham said: “Credit where credit is due, the Prime Minister has at least acknowledged the need to address social care by adding it to Jeremy Hunt’s secretarial portfolio in a very high profile manner. On the face of it, social care now also has a dedicated minister again after it was previously downgraded to a Parliamentary Secretary of State post.
“We have to hope that this is an indication that the Government is going to treat the care of our oldest and most vulnerable residents as a greater priority. What we need to see now is the Government bite the bullet, merge health and social care into one department, properly fund social care and get on with creating a system for properly-funded, seamless care.”
The Independent Care Group is calling for better funding for social care to address the 1.2m people who are currently living without the care they need. A £2.5bn shortfall in social care is feared by next year and the Independent Care Group warns that care homes are closing and homecare providers are unable to deliver contracts because they are no longer viable.
“We were disappointed that social care was ignored in the budget because the warning signs are there that social care is in crisis and something must be done,” Mr Padgham added. “We cannot wait for the Green Paper; measures have to be put in place now, not some time after next summer. The care of our most vulnerable residents cannot wait that long.”
Glen Garrod, Vice President of the Association for the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said:
“We hope the Secretary of State will see social care as crucial in its own right, and not just viewed through the prism of what it can do for healthcare. Social care is responsible for over 1.4 million jobs, and supports over 1 million of our most vulnerable adults. With a funding gap of over £2 billion, this will be one of the most essential tasks for the new Department to get to grips with in making sure that a long-term, sustainable funding solution is provided to address this. The upcoming green paper on social care, which is expected in the summer, is an ideal opportunity to do so.
“Every day, social workers and social care staff across the country make a huge difference to the lives of older people, and adults of working age with disabilities. It’s essential that this work is recognised with a determination in the new department to put social care on the secure financial footing it needs, and to deliver better quality health and social care solutions, that can benefit individuals and communities across the country.”