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Another Call To Arms For Social Care

Audit report adds to call for urgent reform

Care providers have welcomed a new report which they say adds to the call for urgent reform of the care of older and vulnerable people in this country.

A report from the National Audit Office says too many adults have unmet care needs and identifies a lack of a long-term vision for care and short-term funding as issues to be tackled by long-awaited reform.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) says the new report is the latest of many to call for change.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said today: “In welcoming this report, we have to say that this is the latest in a long line of reports to highlight the need for total, root and branch reform of the social care sector.

“We don’t know how many times the Government needs to be told that this reform is overdue before it does something about it.”

The NAO reports concludes: “High-quality care is critical to the well-being of some of the most vulnerable adults in society. Yet levels of unpaid care remain high, too many adults have unmet needs and forecasts predict growing demand for care. The lack of a long-term vision for care and short-term funding has hampered local authorities’ ability to innovate and plan for the long term, and constrained investment in accommodation and much-needed workforce development.”

The report says Covid-19 shone a spotlight on the problems within the sector but praises “substantial efforts from those across the sector to deliver these essential services in such challenging circumstances”.

It concludes that the collaborative approach shown during the pandemic should be “capitalised upon when government finally focuses on the long-awaited social care reforms.”

Mr Padgham added: “We welcome these conclusions and hope that the Government makes good on its long-overdue promise to reform the social care sector.

“It is time we put social care at the front of the queue and serve the millions of frail and vulnerable people with the care they need and give those providing that care the pay and recognition they have worked so hard to merit.”

As a matter of urgency, the ICG wants to see:

  • A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
  • NHS care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
  • Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
  • Dementia treated like other high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
  • A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
  • Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT

The ICG points to 1.4m people going without the care they need, £8bn cut from social care budgets since 2010-11 and 100,000 vacancies in the care sector on any one day as evidence that social care needs urgent help.

Mr Padgham added: “Reform is long overdue; the Prime Minister has repeatedly promised it and it is time to deliver. Unless we get more funding into the sector to support care, ease the staffing shortages and improve the terms and conditions of the staff providing amazing care, the sector will continue to be extremely fragile, as it was when Covid-19 struck last year

“If people had lived as long as they do now when Nye Bevan created the NHS in 1948, the care of older people would have been included in the system then. It is time to put that right now by carrying out the sort of reform Bevan did for healthcare on the way we care for the country’s most vulnerable and in need of support.”