Barbara Keeley, Labour MP, has said plans for the future of social care need to be ready as soon as possible and this autumn could prove to be a pivotal moment for the future of the social care system.
Local authorities, care providers, charities, families and residents are looking ahead to the government’s social care green paper with hopes it will bring a much-needed resolution to the social care crisis.
Ms Keeley said: “I fear they may be disappointed, as the government continues to duck the decisions that need to be taken to fix the social care system including providing a much-needed injection of funding.
“Launching a green paper has allowed the government simply to kick the urgent issue of rescuing our social care system into the long grass instead of grasping the nettle. The need for action has never been more urgent.”
Over the last 12 months, many councils have revealed they have had no choice but to make emergency cuts to avoid bankruptcy – unfortunately, Northamptonshire Council declared bankruptcy earlier this year.
“Councils have had their budgets cut by an average of 40% over the last eight years, and that has seen over £7bn drained from social care funding, reducing the amount of care they can provide,” said Ms Keeley.
Many care providers have left the social care system due to inability to provide the care they want to due to the lack of funding they receive from the sector. The Labour party published its own research and found 3,000 care providers consistently received the lowest standards after inspection.
“The simple truth is care staff are dedicated, but too many are overworked and underpaid. Many work on zero hour contracts, and they find they cannot keep up with demand for care.
“They have too little support and too little time to deliver the care they want to give,” said Ms Keeley.
The consequences of the lack of funding, no resolution of the social care crisis effects individuals who are most vulnerable because they are simple not receiving the care they need to live independently.
Ms Keeley said the Labour approach is clear with the party’s pledge of an additional £8bn, with £1bn invested in the first year. The MP claims this amount of funding would help to lift quality, by paying all care staff the real living wage and help to increase access to social care by offering more publicly-funded care packages.
Party Conferences will give members the opportunity to engage with some of the new ideas which are emerging on different ways of commissioning and delivering social care, not just ideas about funding.
“We recognise that we need to move from our broken system of care to a sustainable service for the long term. That is why this autumn is an important moment for the Labour Party too, as we seek to set out what our future National Care Service will look like.
“Given the likelihood of another general election, plans for the future of social care need to be ready as soon as possible. Because if the current government cannot fix the social care crisis, then the next Labour government will,” said Ms Keeley.
Ms Keeley is Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South and Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care.