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Editor’s Viewpoint: Paying The Price For Care Cuts

Peter Adams, Editor of The Carer

Peter Adams, Editor of The Carer

Thank you all once again for the many “feelgood” stories that we are sent – awards, fundraising, special events, weddings, anniversaries – we are delighted to publish them, so please keep them coming.

The is a very hard-hitting report on our website from the Kings Fund regarding cuts to social care. Hard-hitting, though it is, to be frank, it is saying nothing new in my opinion.

Anybody who works in social care already knows that the crisis has been going on for a considerable period of time.

So is it the unfixable problem? A little research I did has revealed that the care system has largely remained unchanged since it was originally conceived, along with the NHS, shortly after World War Two, when average life expectancy was almost 10 years shorter than it is now.

However, as we all know, in today’s world people are not only living longer, they are living with more complex conditions that require a far greater level of care and support.

So in real terms, when one would actually expect the amount of support provided by the government to be rising, is in fact falling. The Local Government Association has said:

“This report confirms what councils have been saying all along about the urgent need for government to properly fund adult social care, and we very much support calls for a fresh debate around how best to support future social care.

“Social care has reached crisis point, with councils’, providers’ and carers’ ability to support our loved ones and ensure they live the dignified and independent life they deserve severely undermined by funding pressures.

“The need to tackle this was acknowledged by the Government in its decision to allow councils to raise council tax by 2 per cent to pay for adult social care in 2016/17, and provide up to an additional £1.5 billion via the Better Care Fund by 2019/20.

“However, the extra income this year will not bring in enough money to plug growing funding gaps and prevent the need for further cutbacks to social care services. Councils will continue to do all they can to maintain the services that older and vulnerable people rely on but there is little scope left for further efficiencies to be made.

“The growing demand of an ageing population, as well as the increasing costs following the introduction of the National Living Wage, are squeezing care home and domiciliary care providers to the point of collapse.

“As a starting point, government should bring forward the £700 million Better Care Fund money earmarked for the end of the decade to 2016/17 to protect vital social care services essential to easing the pressure on care providers and on the NHS.”

“Colour me cynical”, but I am pretty certain this time next year will be another report by somebody stating exactly the same thing. The funding gap will continue to grow and public spending on social care is expected just shrink to below 1% of GDP. We simply do not seem to have moved forward.

I think we, in this generation, have simply been caught unaware. As life expectancy has risen, and people are living with more complex issues, we simply have not prepared ourselves financially for it. Which is why, and I know I leave myself open to criticism by saying this, I found it extraordinary that people were allowed to draw out huge sums from their pension pot. Statistics from Citizen’s Advice has revealed that three in five people who have drawn money from their pension pot have made no provision whatsoever for future care costs.

This makes a very critical situation even more critical – only 16% of people who have accessed their pension have budgeted for future care costs. What people do with a pension and how and when they access, is entirely up to them but at the very least, the government when allowing people access should have given far more information regarding future planning, the Has been kicked down the road once again.

And, once again, I would very much be interested in your views on this topic so please feel free to share them with us.

Peter Adams
Editor of The Carer

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