SOCIAL CARE campaigners today called on the Government to make a fresh start in tackling the crisis in the way we look after older and vulnerable people.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says tomorrow’s budget should set out how the Government plans to carry out and fund the long-term reform of social care.
The ICG wants to see measures that will help care and nursing homes and homecare providers survive the current cost of living and staffing crises.
But it says the Government must also set about long-term reform, including the setting up of a National Care Service – merging social care and NHS healthcare to provide seamless care.
And it has urged politicians to cancel this year’s political party conferences to concentrate on providing care for the 1.6m people who can’t get care and filling 165,000 care staff vacancies.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Despite all the warnings, we still aren’t hearing enough about what the Government plans for social care. We are hearing about measures to tackle issues in NHS healthcare but not social care. If the crisis in social care is tackled, many of the pressures being faced in the NHS will be alleviated too.
“We need urgent help now and reform further ahead. Care can’t close, it can’t economize any more than it already has, it has to keep going, keep helping people and keep supporting the NHS.
“We have reached a point where we can’t keep going any longer.
“We have a new Prime Minister and a new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. It is time for a fresh, bold new start on tackling the crisis in social care – they have been talking the talk, now let’s see them walk the walk.
“There is plenty of expertise available in social care ready and willing to work in partnership with the Government to solve the problems and we urge the new administration to work together with the sector to find solutions.
“We need the root and branch reform that social care needs to provide a proper, sustainable social care service for everyone and proper funding to recognize and reward care staff.”
Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged that nobody will have to sell their home to pay for care and the Government has announced measures to help businesses cope with rising utility bill costs.
But whilst welcoming this news, Mr Padgham said: “In the past two days, the County Councils Network has warned that the cost-of-living crisis could add £3.7bn to the costs of delivering social care – putting huge pressure on those local authorities and creating a real risk of cutbacks.
“At the same time, The Homecare Association says an extra £1.7bn is needed to ensure providers can keep on providing vital care to people in their own home.
“The evidence is mounting that more needs to be done. We need more financial support for the social care sector to help it tackle the under-funding, the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing staff shortages.
“I would also be sceptical about promises over care costs. At the moment, many people will still have to sell their home because they have to foot the bill for accommodation and food, which are integral parts of a person’s care or nursing home package but not included in the cap, which only takes into account care costs.”
He said both Labour and the Conservatives should cancel their party conferences.
“Now isn’t the time for politicians to be going off to Liverpool or Birmingham to hold conferences, it is the time to be in Parliament coming up with solutions to the current crises,” he added.
“Rocketing fuel prices for homecare providers and gas and electricity prices for care and nursing homes are plunging many into very real financial difficulty and threatening their existence.
“The fix on wholesale gas and electricity prices for businesses is welcome but it is only for six months and many providers have already hit hardship.”
Social care providers have endured a 683% increase in energy costs over the past year, according to research by Box Power CIC and Care England.
This translates to an increase in cost for gas and electricity from £660 per bed to £5,166.