Governments accused of ‘wasted decade’ over social care reform with ‘chronically underfunded’ system

Governments accused of ‘wasted decade’ over social care reform with ‘chronically underfunded’ system
‘In many respects social care has got worse here over these ten years,’ says Care and Support Alliance

Successive governments have been accused of wasting a decade by failing to reform social care, with a system that remains “chronically underfunded” and vacancies up almost 80 per cent.

The damning verdict from the Care and Support Alliance, representing 76 charities, comes 10 years on from the Dilnot Commission published its review of social care, which recommended a series or reforms.

However, the organisation said politicians have “sat on their hands” despite repeatedly promising to act in three general elections held throughout the last decade, with nine manifesto promises to reform and refinance social care between the three major Westminster parties.

During his first address to the nation as prime minister in 2019 outside No 10, Boris Johnson also said he had a “clear plan” already prepared to fix the crisis, but no proposal has emerged two years on.

While ministers have promised a blueprint for reform before the end of 2021, the Care and Support Alliance said that “today social social care remains chronically underfunded, with most local councils struggling to meet the care needs of their communities”.

According to a poll commissioned by the organisation, a clear majority (83 per cent) said they wanted the prime minister to fulfil his pledge made two years ago to “fix social care, once and for all”.

Since 2012-13, the organisation also cited data showing that the available care workforces have “shot up by 83 per cent — 45,000 additional entry posts now”.

Caroline Abrahams, the co-chair of the organisation and director of Age UK, said: “This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Dilnot Commission’s report and it’s galling to think what a wasted decade this has been for social care here, when so many other countries have put social care provision on a firm financial basis and brought it up to date.

“In many respects social care has got worse here over these ten years and the huge rise in staff vaccines is big part of the reason why, since it is impossible to deliver consistently decent, reliable care if there aren’t enough care workers to do the job.”

In a call to action, Ms Abrahams also urged the public to contact their constituency MPs and ensure there is “real action” on social care in 2021, “not just the warm words and excuses we’re all fed up of hearing”.

“Our care workers have performed valiantly throughout the pandemic and now they deserve their reward,” she insisted.

Separately, the Local Government Association (LGA) is also urging the government to set out a timetable of reform in the next fortnight and before Parliament rises for the summer recess on 22 July.

The organisation, which represents councils in England, will make the demand at their annual conference on Thursday, saying social care “can play an integral part in building back better” from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chairman of the LGA’s wellbeing board Cllr David Fothergill will add: “Despite the extraordinary commitment and endeavours of all those who work in and draw upon social care, we are still waiting to see what government will produce in its proposals for a long-term, sustainable funding solution and a vision of care and support system that is fit for the 21st century”.