Showing they care - charity calls for parties to commit to social care funding
Carers Trust's Policy Officer, Matt Hawkins responds to party manifestos, urging the next government to 'show us the money!' and commit to investment in the sector.
If there is one message we can take from the manifestos of the five main parties it is this: social care is on the map, and we’re driving in roughly the right direction. The trouble is we don’t have nearly enough fuel in the tank.
On the one hand, the past two weeks have shown us that the vital role played by the nation’s 7 million carers is now receiving the political attention it deserves. Each of the parties’ manifestos makes pledges to increase the support given to carers and, crucially, acknowledges that there currently exists a huge gap between the assistance carers need and the support they are actually receiving.
We welcome the commitments made by each of the parties to improve the coordination of health and social care services and we are very pleased to see that there is now a firm push towards expanding the role the NHS plays in identifying carers and signposting them towards appropriate help and advice. It is also extremely refreshing to see political parties talking in very human, compassionate terms about the need to enhance the wellbeing of carers - going beyond providing them with just the bare bones help they need to get by.
But, to paraphrase the immortal words of Jerry Maguire, there’s one clear message we’ll be sending to the political parties in response to their policy pledges: “Show us the money!” Social care funding was hit by an 8% cut between 2010 and 2013 and the drop in funding looks set to continue. The result has been that local authorities are having to drastically scale-back the support they offer to carers. This is coming at a time when the number of people requiring care continues to rise: the number of adults with a care need is expected to rise by 30% by 2024. Local authorities are being asked to do more and more with less and less.
That’s why Carers Trust have developed three key policy asks that we believe will help to tackle these issues.
First and foremost, we want the next government to increase investment in social care – to make sure that the noble ambitions outlined in the political parties’ manifestos get the financial backing they need to succeed.
Secondly, in order to achieve genuine coordination between health and social care services we need clear requirements put in place for how these services will work together and how funds will be allocated to support carers. Otherwise responsibility for social care risks being carved off from central government without local authorities being in a position to pick up the baton.
Lastly, we want to ensure that every carer is being supported, not just those that have already been identified. That’s why we will be working closely with political parties and the next government to ensure that it becomes a statutory duty on the NHS to identify carers and provide them with the help and support they need to lead a fulfilling life.