The social care system is in crisis. Many disabled and older people who need care or support are going without.
Research commissioned by the Care and Support Alliance found that half a million people who would have received care in 2009 are now unable to get it.
A new report by the Barker Commission on the future of health and social care in England puts forward recommendations on how to change this.
The report is clear. More money is needed and society can afford it.
The real question is not whether we should spend more on social care but how we do so. What is more, a poll commissioned by the Care and Support Alliance found that, along with healthcare, care and support for disabled and older people is the biggest priority for where the public would like to see the government increasing expenditure.
The Barker Commission’s report puts forward a number of proposals for how this money could be raised, including making changes to national insurance and wealth taxes.
These will be tough decisions for government and the country to make but they cannot be ignored. We cannot go on cutting social care budgets and increasingly rationing care. To do so is bad for disabled and older people, bad for their families, bad for society and more expensive in the long run.
Deafblind people who do not get the care and support they need, may, for example, become imprisoned in their own homes, isolated and excluded from society, work and volunteering may become impossible, and mental and physical health may deteriorate.
The report proposes using the additional funding to provide more social care free of charge at the point of need. Initially, this would mean free social care for those with critical needs. As the economy improves, the threshold would be lowered, to provide free social care for people with substantial needs, and then for those with moderate needs by 2025.
Disabled people who need care and support cannot wait that long to get it; they need it now. Why not continue to charge those who can afford to pay, no matter what level of need they have, and provide care and support for all who need it.
I for one would be happy to pay more in national insurance or tax to pay for a system that provides disabled and older people with the care and support they need to live independently, have a reasonable quality of life and be a part of society. Failing to do so will lead to wasted lives and damaged communities and a big bill in the future to try to pick up the shattered pieces.
Inaction is simply not an option. With a general election next year, we, the electorate, must make funding for care and support the election issue. We must make politicians face these tough decisions and take action.
Liz Ball is Campaigns Involvement Officer at Sense