Home News Reforms in social care ‘long overdue’ as PM urged to fulfil promise

Reforms in social care ‘long overdue’ as PM urged to fulfil promise

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Social care ‘has been used as political football’ says Keegan

Sir Andrew Dilnot spoke out as 76 charities blasted a decade of “wasted years” for the crisis-hit system. Former economist Sir Andrew, now warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, said: “Fixing social care is no luxury and it’s long overdue. “In the last 10 years we have seen the numbers of older people grow, yet funding has failed to keep up.” The 2011 Dilnot Commission report said pensioners’ care costs should be capped at about £35,000, with a means test threshold of £100,000, enabling elderly people to keep more of their assets.

But over the years the savings level, which determines if you are entitled to help with care bills, has been frozen at £23,250.

If the threshold had kept up with inflation since 2010/11, it would be nearly £6,000 more.

Meanwhile, the average cost of a care home place has risen 34 percent to £672 a week – underestimating the charges faced by those in London and the South East.

There are now 1.7 million more older people and an additional 857,000 adults who have disabilities, compared with 10 years ago.

Charities coalition the Care and Support Alliance says since 2012/13, vacancies in the sector have soared 82 percent, with 45,000 additional empty posts.

A poll by the group found 83 percent of people want the care system fixed “once and for all”.

The Care and Support Alliance is urging people to lobby their MPs to back reform.

Alliance co-chairman and Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “It’s galling to think what a wasted decade this has been for social care here.”

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has been urged to ‘act on his promise’ of reform (Image: Getty )

Sir Andrew said: “The distressing scenes we saw through the pandemic of the struggles of the social care sector have just underlined the need for action.

“The way people are looked after when they are at their most needy is a good measure of the strength of a society and right now, we don’t measure up well in England.

“It’s hugely encouraging that the Prime Minister has said we will ‘fix social care’. Now is the time to act on that promise.”

Ms Abrahams added: “In many respects social care has got worse here over these 10 years and the huge rise in staff vacancies is a big part of the reason why.

“It’s time for the Prime Minister to stand by his word and for politicians in all parties to demonstrate leadership on an issue which should be above politics.”

She has also called for a cash injection for town halls to meet demand in their communities and “strengthen and professionalise the social care workforce”.

Mr Johnson made his historic promise to “fix social care once and for all” on the steps of 10 Downing Street after winning the general election in 2019.

The Prime Minister is known to want a cap on costs, but Whitehall sources say there have been arguments with Chancellor Rishi Sunak about the amount of money it will entail.

Mr Johnson is said to favour a cap of about £50,000 and in 2015 the Treasury agreed to a figure of £75,000. But the then chancellor George Osborne rejected it as too expensive.

Caroline Abrahams

Alliance co-chairman and Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams (Image: Age UK)

The Treasury is understood to be pushing for a cap of around £86,000, which would be much more affordable for the Exchequer as fewer people would be helped.

Analysis by the Health Foundation suggested an £86,000 cap would help 30,000 care home residents a year. However, 50,000 people would benefit if the cap was fixed
at £50,000.

The Local Government Assoc-iation (LGA) estimates adult social care costs have increased by £8.5billion over the past decade, but total funding has gone up by just £2.4billion. It said £4.1billion of the £6.1billion shortfall was saved through cuts to the service and £2billion was managed by diverting cash from other departments.

More people – 1.65 million – work in social care than in the NHS, which has 1.5 million staff. But they do not enjoy the same pay and pensions and there are fewer training and
promotion opportunities.

Last year MPs on the Commons’ health and social care committee called for a £7billion-a-year increase in adult funding by 2023/24 and £3.1billion to protect those facing soaring costs. When their pleas for help are rejected by councils, many vulnerable pensioners have no choice but to sell their homes.

Some are directed to charities or other services and others receive a minimum level of state-funded support. But a number die before any help is put in place.

There are now 750,000 OAPs who are given some form of social care. Of them, 550,000 are getting long-term help, either in their home or at a residential or nursing complex.

Comment by Sir Andrew Dilnot

FIXING social care is no luxury and it’s long overdue. In the last 10 years we have seen the numbers of older people grow and yet funding has failed to keep up. The latest survey figures from the Care and Support Alliance show just how convinced the whole country is that we need to sort this, and sort it now.

The distressing scenes we saw through the pandemic of the struggles of the social care sector have just underlined the need for action.

Time after time the politicians have failed to grasp the nettle.

On this issue, they have been distinguished only by their paralysis.

Boris Johnson has failed to act so far, despite his pledge on the steps of Downing Street on the day he became Prime Minister.

Nuffield College at Oxford

Former economist Sir Andrew is now warden of Nuffield College at Oxford (Image: Gov.UK )

He declared: “My job is to protect you and your parents and your grandparents from having to sell your home to pay the costs of your care.”

The way people are looked after when they are at their most needy is a good measure of the strength of a society, and right now we don’t measure up well in England.

It is hugely encouraging that the PM has said we will “fix social care” – now is the time to act on that promise.

There is now a significant political cost to not acting.

It’s not just about the money needed, which is not as much as that spent on the NHS or education or defence. The challenge is political courage.

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