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The Care Home Crisis – Will Government Find a Solution?

Peter Hemple looks the crucial role government must play in social care

During the last week of 2019, charities and health providers demanded government to take immediate action to solve the deepening social care crisis. In the run up to the general election, Boris Johnson vowed to produce a “long-term plan” that provides everyone with financial security in old age and removes the need for anyone to sell their home to fund care costs.

The Independent Care Group (ICG), NHS Confederation and the Alzheimer’s Society are among those now calling for him to follow up on his election promise. Fed up with decades-long delays to reform a broken system, The ICG launched its social care manifesto calling on politicians to commit to investing more from taxation or National Insurance.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: “I believe that people are now willing to pay a little more through taxation or National Insurance if it means we, as a country, get a proper social care service to give our older and vulnerable people the care they deserve. We must also ensure people receiving publicly funded care receive it in their own home or close to where they live so they aren’t forced to move away from their community.”

Padgham was also worried that the Queen’s Speech did not include any specific pledges on social care. “In the Queen’s Speech the Government made Brexit its top priority but also promised to enshrine in law a commitment to increase health service funding by £33.4bn by 2023-4. However, there was no indication that the Government had grasped that unless you tackle the under-funding of social care the pressures on the NHS will continue to be exacerbated, extra funding or not. Putting more money into the NHS without supporting social care is like redecorating the house but leaving a hole in the roof.”

He added: “Where was the legally-binding commitment for extra funding for social care? The promised extra £1bn a year won’t touch the sides and won’t even get us back to the levels we had in 2010.”

The ICG believes that, like defence, a fixed percentage of national wealth should go on social care; like cancer or heart disease, dementia should be regarded as a health issue; there should be a cap on care costs; and, like pensions, people should be encouraged to save for their care.

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