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Campaigners Urge New PM to Act on Care

CAMPAIGNERS today urged the new Prime Minister-elect to make the crisis in the care of the country’s oldest and most vulnerable people a top priority.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) has sent an urgent letter to Liz Truss calling on her to take emergency measures to save the social care sector which has been battered by Covid-19, a severe staffing shortage and now the cost-of-living crisis.

The ICG wants the new Prime Minister to:
· Include care and nursing homes in the price cap for energy prices
· Grant people living in care settings utility bill rebates
· Help domiciliary providers tackle huge fuel costs
· Urgently move money from the Health and Social Care levy to support care and nursing homes and homecare providers
· Carry out root and branch reform of social care for the 1.6m who can’t get care at the moment
· Provide better pay and opportunities for care staff to tackle the current staffing crisis
· Utilise the expertise available in the social care sector to tackle the crisis.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“We have sent a clear message to the Prime Minister-elect that social care has to be a top priority for her new Government.

“Others before her have promised and failed but tackling this crisis cannot wait and offers her an opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives straight away.

“We know that there will be many things in her in-tray, but we do appeal to her to tackle social care.”

In a letter to the new Prime Minister, Mr Padgham writes: “As I wrote during the leadership race, we have been warning for more than 30 years that social care was not being funded properly to provide a good, sustainable service for people who need that care every day to help them live a full life.

Those years of under-funding left social care in a perilous state and Covid-19 then hit it hard.

Now the sector finds itself facing a massive staffing shortage and huge increases in costs, including rocketing fuel and utility prices.

There is a very real risk of significant provider failure with a subsequent loss of care provision.

Failure in social care would hit NHS care too as it is one of the bedrocks on which the health service is built. There are already huge delays in hospital discharges because there are no packages of social care available to look after people when they leave hospital. This is only going to get worse.”

Deborah Auty, Head of Communications at Revitalise, said:
‘After a summer in which the country has been left without strong leadership, it is vital that Liz Truss acts without delay to tackle the crisis in social care. There is no time to waste. The cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and soaring energy bills are all putting a huge strain on already stretched healthcare budgets, taking them to breaking point.

Boris Johnson promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’ without properly budgeting for how this was going to happen. In her election campaign, Liz Truss pledged to divert £13 billion of NHS funding into social care, without revealing what impact these cuts will have on the NHS itself. We all know that we cannot fix the problems in the NHS without tackling the crisis in social care, but we cannot simply move precious funds around without consequence.

The Covid pandemic had a disproportionate impact on disabled people and their carers. Carers are already reporting exceptionally high levels of fatigue and stress, while disabled people and those who care for them are finding it even harder to access respite breaks or other essential support.

As we approach what will be an exceptionally tough winter for everyone, Liz Truss cannot lose any more time in addressing this vital issue. She must commit to act on the Government’s promise to fix social care and provide a fully-funded, long-term plan to carry it out.

This Government has shown it can find the money to tackle issues such as the Covid pandemic when it needs to. Social care needs to be properly funded so everyone who needs to can access vital social care services, and local authorities must have the funding to cope with soaring demand.

Now is the time for tough, decisive action. We hope that Liz Truss is the person who can deliver it, otherwise the consequences for so many could be devastating.’