moneySeventy-five organisations, including Mencap, the National Autistic Society and United Response, have signed an open letter calling for the government to urgently begin a cross-party process to find a long-term solution to the crisis in social care funding.

Published ahead of today’s [Wednesday, January 11] Prime Minister’s Questions when Norman Lamb MP launched a call by a group of MPs for a cross-party approach on health and social care funding, the letter urged the Prime Minister to take “a bolder approach” otherwise “millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers will continue to be badly let down.”

Signatories to the open letter ranged from the Royal Colleges of Nursing and GPs to trade union UNISON, and Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust. Additionally, many charities, service and associations also signed the letter. 

Dan Scorer, Mencap's head of policy, said: “People with a learning disability face some of the most serious inequalities in society: on average, people with a learning disability die 16 years younger, and nearly a third of young people with a learning disability spend less than an hour outside their home each day. 

“The lack of funding across the sectors means people with a learning disability are struggling to maintain their health and wellbeing, and are becoming increasingly isolated, facing the fear of what will happen to them if vital support and services are cut.

“Further cuts to local council budgets combined with planned cuts to benefits will push more people with a learning disability further into poverty and ill health. We urge the government to act now to develop a long-term funding solution that will ensure health and care services are able to fully support people who desperately rely on them.”

The open letter said:

Dear Prime Minister, 

Re: Seeking a long-term settlement for health and social care. 

There can be no doubt about the scale of the challenges facing health and social care services in England. Barely a day goes by without news of immediate problems – service reductions, missed targets – and warnings of future failings. 2017 simply cannot be another year where these huge issues are ducked. 

While the Government has taken some short term steps to try and relieve the pressures on the NHS and local authorities, without more fundamental action, these challenges will accelerate as our population increases and ages. 

Although you have recognised the need to find a longer term solution, you have not yet said how you will go about developing one. Unless you adopt a bolder approach millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers, will continue to be badly let down. 

That’s why we are now calling for the government to establish a cross-party process to review and recommend action on future health and social care funding. 

We believe that process should be: 

Inclusive: established by the government with meaningful cross party engagement 

Open: listening to the public and professionals who use and work in these services every day 

Urgent: the cross party process should get underway without delay but this should not prevent shorter term investment, particularly to support the care system 

Such a process should not aim to ‘take the politics out of health and care’ but rather to make clear the costs and consequences of the political decisions that must be made. It should recognise that just as no one party should be blamed for the current challenges, nor can a genuinely long term solution be owned only by one party. 

Brave thinking is required to ensure the right recommendations are backed with political will. 

There can be no room for complacency. The time to act is now.