14 January 2020 – NCA
Weeks into the New Decade, disappointingly, we have little signal from the shiny new Government of the promise to address the challenges of social care. However, what we have been given this year is an additional challenge with no indication of how providers are going to meet it!
The announcement on the last day of the year addressed the commitment to raise people out of poverty by increasing the National Living Wage by 6.2% in 2020. Of course, this will be welcomed as we all believe that those delivering care are undervalued both in skills and financially however, the hardest piece to fit into the jigsaw is; where is the additional money going to come from? The magic social care money tree has still not been located!
Independent commentators tell us that that the gap in social care funding is in excess of £3.5 billion at the current time, so if we take that figure as a conservative estimate it is clear the sector is currently grossly underfunded and any increase will have to be fully funded to avoid exacerbating the situation.
The ability to promise and not delivering must not be the preferred option for government anymore. We cannot be expected to sustain the situation where only the crumbs from the NHS table fall into our caps! The Prime Minister made a commitment on the steps of Downing Street and in his campaigns saying he will sort out Social Care…granted that he did not give a time scale so he may have a get-out clause, but is that acceptable? It was interesting to hear this morning the Prime Minister indicate they are working towards creating a plan by the end of 2020 to be implemented during this parliament.
The government needs to focus their minds on the fact that we currently face vacancies of 122,000 in our services which is set to rise to 580000 by 2035 to keep up with the ageing population. Anita Charlesworth of the Health Foundation points out that to return social care to the same spend per head as in 2010 would now cost £10 billion. That is the scale of the erosion of funding into social care by government.
National Care Association has been consistent in asking for a full review of Social Care including the redefinition of the term based on the actual delivery of services in our sector which are akin to health care in hospitals but with no recognition or value put into our workforce or our investment. This government now needs to deliver on its promise to the public to make social care sustainable for future generations. The time to procrastinate has passed: this government has made a promise to the electorate specifically in relation to social care…it is time to deliver!
Nadra Ahmed OBE – Executive Chairman
National Care Association