Another year ends without a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care. Last week, Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage, quietly confirmed that the Social Care Green Paper will be delayed until January 2019.
I’m deeply disappointed, yet sadly not surprised, that the Social Care Green Paper has not arrived in time for Christmas. It is one of many crucial reforms side lined by the Brexit chaos, along with the NHS Long Term plan.
For over a year the government has repeated it’s tired old mantra, that the green paper is ‘coming soon’. A government that really wants to solve the social care crisis finds a way; those that don’t, find excuses.
Further excuses and delays will mean disabled people don’t receive good quality care or are unable to access the care they need. It leaves more and more disabled people at crisis point and increasingly reliant on NHS services which are already under pressure.
At this point in time, the crumbling social care sector has neither a long-term or short-term funding solution. The Autumn Budget delivered nothing but a £650 million temporary sticking plaster, only a quarter of the money needed to solve the social care crisis. Meanwhile, many disabled people have been left struggling due to the lack of urgency the government has shown this issue.
Too often working age disabled people are also left out of the social care conversation. Disabled 18 to 64 year olds accounted for 49% of spending on long term adult social care last year. Despite this, government and public narrative is consistently around meeting the needs of older people and rarely references the needs of working aged disabled people. Current research indicates there will be an additional 150,000 working age adults with moderate or severe physical disabilities and an additional 16,000 working age adults with a learning disability by 2025. This will put further pressures on the already crumbling social care sector.
Additionally, disabled people with complex needs are living longer than ever before, and I believe they should be able to live the lives they want to lead. Lives full of dignity, choice, happiness and friendships, supported by good quality person-centred care.
I recently had the pleasure of handing in a petition at 10 Downing Street for Sense’s When I’m Gone Campaign. Over 36,000 people have joined Sense in demanding that Government help families plan for the future care of their disabled loved ones. 1.7 million disabled people currently rely on friends or family to care for them. Yet, a third of councils have no idea how many disabled people have their support needs met by family carers. Sense is calling for the Government to create a duty of care, so that all local authorities can plan for the long-term care and support needs of the disabled people in their area. This just isn’t possible with significant funding and buy in from central government; councils are already struggling to meet needs due to repeated cuts to their budgets.
Disabled people are tired of waiting for future plans that never materialise. Government must urgently address the £2.5 billion funding gap the social care sector is facing while also swiftly finding a long-term sustainable solution that is inclusive of all ages and condition with disabled people at the heart of reform.
Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be getting my Christmas wish, so I hope that the government’s New Year resolution will be to finally deliver the Social Care Green Paper.