For immediate use: 29 September 2016
Government should mark UN Older People’s Day by tackling the ‘perfect storm’ facing social care
Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has called on the government to mark UN Older People’s Day on 1 October, by announcing how they intend to tackle the crisis in the social care system.
The Convention has warned that shortly after coming to power in 2015, a key part of the Care Act 2014 that would have introduced a cap on care costs, was abandoned. Since then one care minister has gone and his replacement, David Mowat has yet to make any public commitment to address the growing problems facing the sector. Yet, the Convention believes the situation is now so grave that urgent action is needed.
In recent evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee (1), the NPC has documented the ‘perfect storm’ now facing the social care sector, which includes:
- Severe cuts to funding; of a service that was already widely seen as the Cinderella of the care system
- Growing demand, accompanied by a tighter rationing of services and a reduction in the number of people receiving support
- The continued unfairness of self-funders paying more for their care and effectively subsidising local authorities
- The decline of support and preventative services in the community, leading to an acceleration of illnesses and conditions putting greater strain on the NHS and care services
- A funding model of many private care providers that is unsustainable
- Rising costs of care, including the need to pay staff the Living Wage
- The accumulation of continued failure by successive governments to adequately address these problems, including the recent decision to delay the introduction of a cap on care costs and the limited effect of the recent 2% council tax precept
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “Every week, we come across examples of how older people have been let down by the care system. In the last six years, over £5bn has been cut from social care budgets, 1.8m people no longer get services at home and half of all care homes are facing financial problems. It’s clear we need a new model for social care – one that shares the cost across society as a whole and which can improve access to services, as well as standards of care. We need a National Health and Social Care Service (NHSCS) funded through taxation.”
A recent survey of public attitudes revealed that over half the population agreed that the service should either be tax-funded and free at the point of delivery, or that there should be a limit on the amount that individuals have to pay towards their care.(2)
“The general public, those involved in the care sector and older people and their families are way ahead of the politicians on this issue. They know the current system isn’t working and more of the same just isn’t going to solve anything. We need something bold to tackle the major problems facing the sector. Waiting until 2020, as the government has suggested, will effectively mean that older people are left to suffer for years and for some it will be too late. That is completely unacceptable,” Ms Gibson added.
The NPC is planning a series of protests around the country to coincide with UN Older People’s Day, including a ‘Skeleton’-style protest outside the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall on Friday 30 September.(3)
Events are also planned in Bedford, Birmingham, Bracknell, Bridgwater, Brighton, Chesterfield, Dundee, Gateshead, Greater London – Bexley, Greenwich, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Southend, Sutton and Redbridge, Norfolk, Nottingham, Oxford, Tendring and Watford.
For further information contact Neil Duncan-Jordan on 07432-575251
(1) Communities and Local Government Committee Adult Social Care Inquiry, submission by the National Pensioners Convention, August 2016
(2) How does the public think we should fund social care?, Richard Humphries, King’s Fund Blog, 25 February 2016
(3) ‘Skeleton’-style protest (pic below) – over 20 people will be dressed as skeletons and protesting outside the Department of Health at 11am-12noon, 30 September