Care providers hope to get the chance to quiz top politicians over the crisis in social care when they gather for their annual conference in York on Wednesday.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) will hold its conference at York Racecourse on Wednesday and hopes to have social care minister Caroline Dinenage in attendance.
The group has also twice written to all three main political party leaders inviting them to attend the conference and set out their manifesto plans for social care.
The ICG has launched its own social care manifesto calling on politicians to make firm pledges to tackle social care and commit to investing more in the sector.
Chair Mike Padgham said: “We are hoping for a great turnout at York on Wednesday and hope we get the opportunity to speak to the minister and, who knows, maybe a party leader or two as well!
“This is a crucial moment for social care and we have to ensure it is the most prominent domestic issue at the forthcoming General Election.
“Age UK reported recently that 1.5m people are now living without the care they need. That is a national scandal and a situation that is going to get worse unless politicians take action immediately.
“Our conference will send out the message that we have waited long enough, it is time to tackle social care.”
In its second letter to the party leaders, Mr Padgham says: “This is something real, something qualitative and quantitative. Social care should be a priority – we know it, your constituents know it, and I’m sure you know it too, deep down; our conference will be the perfect place for you to gain increased positive exposure, listen, show you care, set out how your party will deal with this crisis, not just shove it further down the list, because it’s about people, young and old, who need the support of others to live the lives they deserve.”
In its own manifesto, the ICG calls for the next government to get more money into social care to halt a crisis which has seen care homes closing and home care providers handing back untenable contracts.
The ICG calls for better funding of social care, through taxation or National Insurance and for social care and NHS care to be merged and managed centrally or locally.
The ICG suggests that a fixed percentage of GDP should be spent on social care, that dementia should be regarded as a health issue, like cancer or heart disease, that there should be a cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges and that people should be encouraged to save for their own care, as they do for a pension.
It also calls for measures to improve the standing of care staff to improve recruitment, including a minimum wage for social care workers, above the National Living Wage and more nurse training and bursaries to encourage recruitment and help end the shortage of nurses in care.
The ICG also wants to see a minimum, agreed level of care fees, social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT so that they can claim it back, as other business sectors do and the Care Quality Commission to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practices such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits.