The care sector urgently needs reform after suffering long term under-funding and neglect
Despite years of promises, the Department of Health and Social Care still doesn’t have a plan in place to reform the adult social care sector.
The Public Account Committee (PAC) has this week released a report examining the state of the adult social care system in the UK, and the impact the pandemic has had on the sector.
The report’s findings are incredibly sobering, stating that the pandemic has had a “devastating impact on the care sector”, with care-home occupancy falling from around 90% in March 2020, to 80% in February 2021. However, it also discovered that despite years of promises, the Department of Health and Social Care still doesn’t have a plan in place to reform the adult social care sector, nor does it have a plan to align workforces between the care sector and the NHS.
Most concerningly though, the report discovered that the sector is suffering from long term under-funding and neglect, with local authority funding being cut by 29% since 2010-11. Whilst the government has provided ad-hoc injections of finance in recent years, the lack of financial certainty in the sector, has constrained local authorities’ and providers’ ability to plan long term.
I question what these findings say about our society and the values that underpin in
The findings of this report have led me to reflect. I was once told “that the way a society treats its vulnerable, says lot about the society itself”. After reading this report, I question what these findings say about our society and the values that underpin in. We have progressed in so many ways, be it stomping out prejudice in the workplace or addressing racial injustices (I appreciate work still needs to be done in this area). Yet we continue to struggle with the issue of adult social care.
Countless politicians over the last 20 years, of all political persuasions and hues, have made promises and stood on manifestos promising to reform the social care system. However, none have succeeded.
You may, quite rightly, ask why this issue has been such a challenge. To be honest with you, I don’t know. Yes, people will ascribe this to a lack of funding, but as we have seen with the NHS, funding alone does not resolve such a complex issue.
Social care is described as a ‘people business’ and I couldn’t agree more. What will solve the challenge of social care is the same thing that makes it, people. Whilst funding will help ease some of the pressures felt, it is the people and the vision that they hold, that will bring much needed, and long-term, change to the sector.
The jury may remain out for some time on how we solve the issue of adult social care, but there is one thing that is clear, we must work together. Care is something that transcends any race, religion, or protected characteristic and as a society that is living longer and longer, it must be every politician’s priority.
Shaun Bailey is the Conservative MP for West Bromwich West.
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