Our campaign is about adult social care services for working age and older people who need long-term support to stay well and safe in their own homes or in a residential care setting. Long before Covid-19, demand for these services was growing but the government’s response was to cut local authority funding. Despite the heroic efforts of domiciliary and residential care staff on low wages and inadequate conditions, Covid-19 brutally exposed what was already there – an unsustainable, fragmented, largely privatised sector.
The funding disgrace: We can access the NHS free of any immediate cost when we need it. This is not the case with adult social care. People face means testing, as well as a stringent ‘needs assessment’. Even if new government proposals are fully implemented in 2023 both of these major barriers will remain in place. New rules will mean that more qualify for financial support. However, the proposed ‘cap’ of £86,000 only applies to costs of ‘personal care’ and will, almost certainly, be dependent on meeting a local authority ‘needs assessment’. Many will still be expected to make a large financial contribution from their life savings or have to sell their home.
Unmet needs: Cuts in budgets combined with increasing demand for services mean only around 43% of those currently seeking support receive some form of funded service, leaving the rest to fend for themselves. The bulk of additional money to be raised by the government’s new taxes has been earmarked for the NHS. What remains to address the social care crisis will be phased in over several years with little significant improvement in sight.
Unpaid carers: Estimates for those relying on unpaid care from family members or friends in 2019 were around 9 million. The situation is even worse now. Government proposals for unpaid carers to receive more advice, guidance and respite do little to recognise our growing dependence on the millions of unpaid carers and the impact on their finances, health and well-being.
The injustice: The government has failed to produce a realistic plan which is capable of delivering the adult social care that people need without imposing enormous financial costs on them or their families. The additional taxes required to fund a fully comprehensive national care service should be borne by those who can best afford to pay.