Barbara has warned that the social care system faces collapse if the Conservative Government continues to ignore the need to fund the care system adequately.
In a speech to the 2016 National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester, Barbara echoed warnings made in a cross-party report by Local Government Association of council leaders, which said that social care services are facing a crisis about their very existence.
The social care sector faces significant challenges because of an ageing population, a struggle to recruit care workers, under-funding and years of Government cuts to council budgets. The recent increases to the National Minimum Wage for the care sector were not funded by the Government in the Budget. Instead, local councils are allowed to raise extra money for social care, up to a limit of 2% of Council Tax.
In many parts of the country, providers or care at home and care home providers are handing back contracts to councils, as they say that are undeliverable due to low levels of fees.
Six years of Government cuts to local council budgets have seen local authority spending on the care and support needs of older and disabled people fall dramatically. Age UK estimate that over a million older people in England are now living with unmet social care needs. The number of older people receiving publicly-funded social care has “plummeted” by 26% since 2009.
“Ministers have been warned time and time again about the developing crisis in social care and they have failed to act to fund social care adequately.
“The number of older and vulnerable people who rely on social care services is increasing and the services in place cannot cope with the rising demand. The current system is unsustainable.
“Local councils are expected to cope with the increasing financial burden of social care, while Government cuts mean they are less and less able to shoulder that burden. Salford City Council, needed £2.7 Million just to pay for the minimum wage increases in our local care sector but can only raise £1.6 million from the social care precept. Councils are being forced to do more with less. But this cannot continue.
“This is a critical time for our fragile health and care systems. The Government currently has no clear plan or strategy to tackle the funding of social care. Failure to act now could lead to the collapse of services which are vital to older and vulnerable people and their carers.”