Care England, the representative body for independent adult social care providers, has expressed dismay at the government’s stance on social care reform following the Queen’s Speech in Parliament this morning. The speech stated there would be a “new approach” to social care.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “This is a missed opportunity. Without the much-needed, not to mention heralded, reform it is questionable as to how much longer the sector can be expected to limp on. A sector that supports and employs vast swathes of the population cannot be ignored. We stand ready and willing to help the Government deliver its manifesto commitment, but the Health and Care Bill which has a focus on the NHS, is not the vehicle to deliver this huge shift as it will not produce the system change that is necessary to ensure the future sustainability of the sector.
“Sadly, we have been here before and it is simply unfathomable as to what will influence the government to bring about reform; surely they can’t be waiting for provider failure and further chaos in the already overstretched NHS. The oven-ready plan is truly burning, or maybe the government forgot to ever put it in the oven.”
Last month Care England was one of the 26 co-signatories, to an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, emphasising that social care had been on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic with a tragic number of deaths in care homes – over 30,000 residents and nearly 900 staff. The letter maintained that the adult social care workforce has demonstrated tremendous commitment and resilience during the pandemic time, but that the sector was is on its knees, in desperate need of reform.
Kirsty Matthews, chief excective of Hft, a charity supporting adults with learning disabilities, also registered her disappointment with the speech, saying: “The 2021 Queen’s Speech follows an extremely challenging year which saw the social care sector play a vital role on the front line, supporting some of the most vulnerable adults in society. It is therefore even more disappointing that the government chose to leave the social care sector and the people we support out of their plans to ‘level up’ as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While the government has renewed their pledge to bring forward proposals for social care this year, there was a stark absence of concrete legislation outlining reform and a long-term funding settlement for the sector. As demonstrated by our Sector Pulse Check research, this is desperately needed, given that 56% of social care providers reported being either in deficit or having seen their surplus decline. These cost pressures have ultimately led to service closures, staff redundancies and care being offered to fewer people.
“Overall, today’s announcement amounts to yet another missed opportunity and broken promise – sentiments the sector has heard repeated for countless years. Social care, at its heart, is centred on the people it supports, ensuring they can live with greater independence and choice. It is vital the government finally listens to our call and takes action to bring forward the change needed to reinvigorate the sector and create a sustainable future. This cannot happen soon enough.”
Unison’s general secretary Christina McAnea also weighted in saying: “The government cannot continue with empty words. Ministers must stop putting off the inevitable. It’s time for action, and a radical plan to fix the broken care sector. Covid has exposed the desperate and fragile state of social care. Those who rely on care and their families are being constantly let down, and poorly paid staff feel undervalued and ignored. Social care failings have a knock-on effect on the NHS too. A world-class system is needed, and a government with the ambition and drive to deliver.”
Date published: May 11, 2021