Today, a group of 46 charities and service providers have written an open letter to Government calling for additional funding for social care to be included in the forthcoming White Paper. They’re right – but will the government listen?
The underfunding of social care has been a campaigning point for charities, advocacy groups and support services for many years, but the problem has never been adequately addressed by successive governments.
This has been exacerbated in the past couple of years by funding cutbacks. In turn this has seen eligibility criteria ramped up and services closed.
However, this underfunding, combined with increasing numbers of people requiring social care has meant the system has reached a tipping point. Throw in the fact that people – including those with complex needs – are living longer, and it is clear we’re sitting on a funding time bomb.
As the letter says, the basis for reform is there with the recommendations from Dilnot and the Law Commission, but the fundamental question is funding. Reform won’t work without more money being pumped into the sector.
While I’m not denying that there aren’t areas in social care where current services could be carried out more efficiently or for less cost, you can only slice the salami so thinly, so to speak. And with demand going up, so will the cost. You can’t keep doing more with less year after year.
The Government cannot ignore this fact any longer. And it must find adequate funding from somewhere to deal with this. If it doesn’t, I have to agree with the charities that the reforms won’t work.
It will require billions over many years, but this is not a question of budgets, or cutting the deficit, it is about people getting the assistance they need to live a good life.
Hundreds of people with disabilities, older people, their families and carers will converge on Parliament tomorrow to lobby MPs on this point. They need to listen. If they don’t, the consequences for the social care system – but, more importantly, those who use it – could be dire.