Forget tax cuts and help the vulnerable

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Mike Padgam- Independent Care Group

CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the Chancellor to stop thinking about tax cuts and start thinking about caring for the oldest and most vulnerable.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, the Independent Care Group (ICG) says it is time to properly fund social care and help those who need support.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Nobody wants to pay too much tax, but there is a tipping point where we have to stop looking at tax cuts and lowering public spending and start thinking about those vulnerable people who aren’t getting the care they need.

“We know we are in an election year but for once the Government should concentrate on investing in services people need rather than any short-term political gain from headline-grabbing tax cuts.

“The social care sector has suffered cut after cut to its funding over the past 30 years and now it is at the point where it is failing to support those who need it most.

“We call upon Jeremy Hunt to resist the temptation for tax cuts and instead look at enabling local authorities to invest in the local delivery of care to their most vulnerable people.

“He will probably not need reminding, but when Jeremy Hunt was Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, he said social care needed an extra £7bn a year just to stand still. It is time to start delivering on that.”

Mr Padgham said local authorities, who commission care from providers, had seen their budgets cut savagely in the past three decades. This had meant they were commissioning less care and also squeezing down on the price they pay in fees to providers.

“This results in care providers handing back delivery contracts and in the worst cases, ceasing to operate at all,” Mr Padgham added. “At the same time, a lack of proper funding is exacerbating the worst staff shortages the sector has ever seen, with 152,000 vacancies across the country.

“We have to see some changes otherwise more and more people will go without the care they need – be that care in their own home or in a care or nursing home. We already know 1.6m people can’t get the care they need – that number will inevitably rise as local authorities cut spending on care and providers reduce delivery or exit the market.”

Rising costs, including the cost of implementing a bigger-than-expected increase in the National Living Wage, are heaping further pressures on providers.

The ICG is campaigning for social care reform to be included in the main political parties’ manifestos ahead of the next General Election. It wants to see fresh thinking on social care reform, the creation of a National Care Service and better funding into the sector so that social care workers can be properly paid.

The number of people aged over 65 will rise from 10.5m to 13.8m by 2035 and the sector will need an extra 480,000 people in the social care workforce to provide care to meet extra demand.

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