A leading social care group fears the loss of a dedicated ministerial post could signal a downgrading in the new Government’s attitude to looking after older and vulnerable adults.
The Independent Care Group is dismayed that the recent new Government reshuffle has seen the social care brief come under a more junior, parliamentary under-secretary of state for community health and care.
Previously it was a ministerial post, held by Alastair Burt, who resigned earlier in July.
The Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “We had been optimistic that a new Government might at last begin to recognise the importance of social care and address the chronic under-funding which is threatening the care of many thousands of adults.
“The new Prime Minister has said she means to support the disadvantaged as she takes up the reins of Government, but the loss of a dedicated ministerial post for social care looks like a backward step.
“It very much appears that, after a generation of waiting, any hopes we had of new progress in social care have been swiftly dashed by this apparent downgrading of social care.
“Social care should have its own Secretary of State to give it the status it deserves and not be looked after by a more junior parliamentary under-secretary of state for community health and care, however able they might be, in a directorate that also includes digital, technology and local government. It needs a more senior level position to fight its corner.
“A lot of leading commentators agree that social care is going through a crisis due to chronic under-funding and the impact of the economic downturn. As it settles to the tasks ahead the Government needs to rethink this as social care needs to rise in priority, not fall.”
The last six years has seen more than £5bn cut from social care budgets and the amount local authorities pay to providers to offer care has been savagely cut back. The National Living Wage has also added a huge burden to providers, prompting many to fear for the future.