The Chancellor of the Exchequer certainly made us wait, but at long last it seems like the government has recognised the true scale of the issues facing social care today.
Over the years, spending reductions have taken their toll, nudging the state of adult social care finances towards tipping point. The latest figures estimated the care sector was due to begin the next financial year with a deficit of at least £1 billion, an unsustainable situation which experts warned could lead to its collapse.
So it was with a great sense of relief that we welcomed the government’s commitment to spend an additional £2 billion on social care over the next three years, with The Chancellor guaranteeing £1 billion for immediate use in order to stabilise the sector for the next year. This sum of money should effectively see the sector through the next twelve months and divert the demise of the sector which many believed was imminent.
This may seem a short-term plan, and indeed it is. However, the Chancellor also announced that the government will be working towards a long-term future for social care, publishing a green paper on their initial thoughts in due course.
This represents a massive opportunity for the sector.
We have the chance to work with the government to develop a long-term plan for adult social care, which could improve the experience disabled and older people have of the care system.
We hope that any new plans embed quality into the care sector and improve people’s access to vital care services, redressing the years of cuts which resulted in fewer people being offered the help they need.
Sense have calculated that there are approximately 108,000 learning disabled adults with care needs who receive no support whatsoever. While over the last year alone, the number of people receiving a sensory support service dropped by 11.4%.
It is undeniable that the financial strain the sector has felt over recent years has impacted on service provision and on people with care and support needs.
This is why we hope that the government’s proposed green paper can offer real and meaningful reform to the sector, so that disabled people and older people have access to the high quality of social care they deserve.
Of course, with opportunity comes risk. That’s why we at Sense will be striving to work as closely as we can with the government to ensure that the future of social care is bright and the green paper is a success.
We hope that the government will use this period of review and reform to safeguard vital services for disabled people, and recognise that good quality social care is a vital lifeline to well over one million disabled and older people across the country.
The Spring Budget certainly gave us some breathing space. Now we and the government must seize the opportunity to reform social care and truly make it fit for the future.