Members of the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) have called on the government to make good on its manifesto promise and deliver the pledge made four years ago to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.
In his first speech as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak emphasised that the “mandate his party earned in 2019” under the leadership of Boris Johnson was also his mandate and vowed to “deliver on its promise.”
The alliance, however, said that four years since that pledge it was concerned that social care reform has stalled once again, leaving millions of older and disabled people and their families struggling to access the care they need.
It added that there has been too many U-turns, delays and watering down of policies. For example, changes to the means test and £86,000 cap on personal care costs – that were due to be implemented from October 2023 have been postponed until October 2025, after the next general election.
The new Health and Social Care Levy, which was supposed to help fund social care reform and improve care, has been cancelled and in April 2023, the government announced that workforce training, qualifications and wellbeing would be backed by £250 million, just half of the £500 million originally promised for this purpose in 2021.
The CSA represents over 60 of England’s leading charities campaigning for a properly funded care system alongside the millions of older people, disabled people and their carers who deserve decent care. It said that the government backsliding on their promise to fix social care is deeply concerning given that more people are asking for support, but fewer are getting it; workforce vacancies are at an all-time high and public satisfaction with social care is at its lowest ever.
Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of Communication, Advocacy and Activism at Mencap and co-chair of the CSA said: “Despite the announcement of a long-term workforce plan for the NHS, no such plan is in place for adult social care. There are over 150,000 vacancies in the sector – more than in the NHS – with staff leaving to earn higher wages in other sectors.
“The number of vacancies has risen by 37% since the government promised to fix social care in 2019. It beggars’ belief that the government has halved funding to support the training, skills and wellbeing for the social care workforce.
“Saying that social care is in urgent need of reform is easy, but delivering on their promise has proved to be beyond the Government. Rishi Sunak must show the leadership necessary to address workforce pay, timely access to support and the underfunding of the system for working aged disabled adults and older people, before it’s too late.”