In the Queens Speech there was a noticeable absence of plans for adult social care, despite the Prime Minister saying as he entered Downing Street in 2019 “we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all” and despite promises of a White Paper since 2017. People in Nottingham and the rest of the country desperately need a social care system that is adequately funded over the long term and free at the point of use. Everyone contributes, everyone’s covered – just like our NHS. Local councils like ours will still need to lead in this area as we are best placed to support people to be independent and live the lives they want to, given the range of ways that our wider work and partnerships touch everyone’s lives.
The pandemic has shown how important social care is for people and though social care workers do an amazing job, the growing demand alongside chronic underfunding is pushing the sector further into crisis. In March I wrote to the Government along with local Labour MPs highlighting the need for a fair and adequate funding system for social care, quoting the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) who said that £1,3 billion is needed to cover demographic and inflationary pressures in 2021, Cllr Williams has yet to receive a reply.
Social care workers in our city support people to live well, maximising independence, choice and control. But they and the people they support, alongside their unpaid carers need a national long term plan for social care that recognises that this is skilled and vital work to support adults of all ages to make their own choices, and the best of their lives at every stage.
The Government’s current approach has been the adult social care precept, hitting Nottingham’s hard pressed council tax payers. This precept represents a significant sum to local households, but makes a negligible impact on the pressures to the Council’s budget in this area. An inadequate sticking plaster that costs Nottingham tax payers dearly – hitting household incomes at a time of economic crisis.
In March I wrote to the Government highlighting the need for a fair and adequate funding system for social care that covers everyone. I have yet to receive a reply. The absence of any plans in the Queen’s Speech makes clear that Government is going to leave those supported by adult social care, those who are paid to care, and unpaid carers left without a long term solution to the issues they experience every day.
In Wales and Scotland their Government’s are rising to the challenges with commitments to paying care workers a real living wage and considering a “National Care Service”.
This is a real failure to grasp the reality and urgency of the problem.
We urge the government to listen to the nation. Just as we have raised our voices when needed to defend our NHS, when we clapped for carers, we meant it. They would do well to listen – and act.