Following Theresa May’s surprise announcement that we would be having a snap general election, all the political parties have jostled for air time, trying to capture the public’s imagination with their key messages.
So far, Brexit has remained top of the agenda.
However, there are vital domestic issues facing the country as well, top of my list would be the crisis-stricken social care sector.
Social care has faced years of spiralling demand, while budgets have been cut, to the tune of more that £4.6billion since 2010.
The impact of this has been catastrophic, record numbers of people are finding themselves stuck in hospital awaiting care at home; the number of people living with unmet needs has also increased. While many providers have chosen to walk away from a sector that they deem to be simply unsustainable.
To overlook the state of social care is simply not an option, and all political parties must make the reform and long-term funding of the sector a priority.
To address the severe financial woes of the sector, we believe the next government should commit to providing the sector with additional funding of £1billion per year up to 2020.
This, we believe, would address the risk of potential market failure, where the sector essentially collapses under the weight of the financial issues it faces.
Money alone is not the solution to the sector’s problems; indeed the sector is in dire need of meaningful reform. This is something the previous government committed to, saying they would publish a very welcome green paper outlining plans later this year. It is vital that all political parties share this commitment.
Sense has previously outlined five key principles for the reform of social care which we believe should inform the future reform of social care.
Those principles are:
- Financial sustainability must be guaranteed
- Social care reform must be holistic and inclusive of working age disabled people
- Unmet needs must be addressed, there are currently over 108,000 working age disabled adults who live with unmet care and support needs
- Social care commissioners should be supported to design, in co-production with providers and people who use services, outstanding person-centred services
- We must continue to work towards fully integrating social care services with the NHS.
To neglect this reform, or to choose to prioritise other policy areas like Brexit at the expense of social care reform and funding, would be a disservice to disabled people across the country.
So, in the run up to the general election, we urge all political parties to commit to addressing the mounting issues facing social care, so we can work towards a sector that enshrines high quality, person-centred care for everyone who needs it now and long into the future.
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