New analysis for the Care and Support Alliance as found that since the Prime Minister stood in Downing Street and promised to “fix social care, once and for all”, approaching two years ago now, a shocking two million requests for formal care and support from adults aged over 18 have been turned down by their local council. This is equivalent to about 21,000 requests being turned down each week, or 3,000 every day.
To put these figures in context, it is well established that social care is chronically underfunded and that many local councils are struggling to meet the care needs of their communities. We have an ageing population and growing numbers of disabled people of working age, for example, but central Government funding has not kept pace with the consequent growing demand for care. Unfortunately, the pandemic threatens to make an already bad situation even worse; research recently published by Age UK found that being stuck at home for long periods, largely immobile and without the stimulation of company, is demonstrably accelerating and intensifying some older people’s need for care .
This new finding is being published on the day that the leaders of 50 charities and not for profit organisations belonging to the Alliance have written to the Prime Minister, calling on him to act this year in order to fulfil the promise he made to the country to ‘fix social care’, when he first entered office on 24th July 2019.
Nearly 100 weeks later there is still nothing to show from the Prime Minister’s promise. What’s more, people who rely on social care have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. As the leaders say in their letter:
“During the pandemic tens of thousands died before their time in care homes from COVID-19. The best possible legacy we can give all those who have lost loved ones would be to ensure that we fix the care system so that a similar tragedy cannot happen again.”
The signatories are leaders in organisations that support older people, disabled people, those with mental ill health and other long term health conditions, and their unpaid carers. They include Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Carers UK, Mencap, Mind and many others.
The letter explains that these organisations were delighted when they heard the Prime Minister make his pledge and that now, after everything social care has been through during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that he stands by his word.
Caroline Abrahams CBE, Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance and Charity Director of Age UK, said:
“The fact that two million requests for care have been turned down by local councils over the last two years or so is mind-blowing. Although this enormous group of our fellow citizens will no doubt demonstrate many different needs, some care will have been essential for all of them to live well and with dignity. Without it, their lives will have been diminished in quality and sometimes quantity too, with huge pressure placed on families and friends to try to compensate for the absence of properly funded support. We can’t go on like this, it is simply too unfair on everyone involved.
“The responsibility for reforming and refinancing care lies squarely with central Government, so it was fantastic to hear the Prime Minister pledge to “fix social care once and for all”, when he entered No 10 in July 2019. Now, if this terrible pandemic doesn’t make the case for determined Government action on social care I struggle to think what will. Sadly, we can’t bring back the more than 40,000 lives lost in care settings, but we can at least do everything possible to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again. That means a thorough overhaul of social care, with the funding to match, starting this year.
“As charities and not for profits that see the positive difference good social care makes to people, and the misery and distress caused when it’s not there, our message to the Prime Minister is simple: it’s time for you and your Government to deliver on the promise you have made.”
Social care enables people to lead independent and fulfilling lives. It includes help with personal care (washing, dressing and eating), support with everyday tasks (shopping, managing money, cooking) and for disabled adults of working age help with socialising, going to work and taking part in local activities. Even before the pandemic at least 1.6 million people went without the care they needed .