The Independent Care Group says it welcomes the Government’s call for cross-party action to tackle the big issues like social care, Brexit and terrorism.
Chair Mike Padgham has written to the Prime Minister and to Parliamentary Under-secretary of State Jackie Doyle-Price, inviting them to visit the front line of social care and to learn about the issues and possible solutions.
He said: “It is very heartening to hear the Government say it is willing to listen to other views going forward. Other political parties had solutions for the social care crisis in their manifestos and care providers have solutions to offer too.
“It is vital that the Government gets a real understanding of the issues facing social care and listens to solutions that include, but also go far beyond, improving funding.”
Amongst other things, Mr Padgham wants to see a root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded to include the merging of NHS health care and social care into a National Care and Health Service, with its own Secretary of State, at Cabinet level. He says the sector needs greater funding – possibly through taxation and/or NI contributions and a commitment to ensure a fixed percentage of GDP is spent on social care.
He also wants to see dementia regarded as a health issue, a cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges, a national minimum rate for care fees, a minimum wage for social care workers, above the National Living Wage and incentives for providers to invest in the future, like being zero-rated for VAT so that they can claim it back, as other business sectors do.
His call for change follows last week’s publication of a Care Quality Commission report criticising standards amongst some care providers.
Mr Padgham added: “It is worth remembering that the majority of care providers are delivering good or outstanding care. This report will again damage confidence in social care and harm morale within an already fragile sector. But we also have to hope that it persuades the Government that the crisis in social care must be addressed now and not months and months down the line through another Green Paper, by which time it will be too late.
“Council spending on social care has fallen by £5bn since 2010 and overall spending on services has dropped by a fifth, with a £2bn shortfall predicted.
“Some 1.2m people are now going without the care they need and the number of people needing care is going to rocket by around 1.5m in the coming decade.
“With councils cutting what they pay providers to commission social care it is inevitable that standards will fall. Care homes are closing and homecare providers are handing back contracts because it is no longer viable to keep providing services for the care fees that are being paid.
“One of the biggest failings reported was staff shortages. This is inevitable as it is impossible to recruit and retain good carers during the current economic climate and we are all facing a national crisis in recruiting nursing staff which is affecting both NHS and social care and needs to be addressed.”