Today’s announcement on social care will not fix the broken system
The current system excludes thousands of people with support needs
The cap won’t fix our broken care system – it won’t provide social care for many hundreds of thousands of people currently excluded from support. It won’t improve the quality or amount of support people currently get which is woeful. It won’t stop the scandal of charging for social care that is robbing disabled people of essential disability benefits income and pushes them into extreme poverty, and it won’t improve wages or conditions of care workers or address the recruitment and vacancy crisis
Social care support is vital for hundreds of thousands of Disabled and older people. When it works well, it enables people to live a normal life. The current system excludes thousands of people with support needs. The support people get is often inadequate, condemning them to a life of isolation, trapped at home with care visits that only last 15 minutes. This amount of time barely ensures basic survival. The existing structure forces Disabled people, already on means-tested benefits, to pay unjust charges and makes them even poorer. At the same time, it pays care workers a pittance and heavily relies on unpaid carers.
Disabled and older People should have the right to thrive, not just survive, and the role of care and support in today’s society must be to provide care, support and connections that enable people to live the life they choose within their community. Social care must provide support to live, learn, work, participate and connect, on an equal basis with others.
We need a radical reform that creates a system fit for the 21st century, a system that gives Disabled and older people the dignity, quality of life, choice and control we should all have in our lives.
Therefore, we are extremely disappointed with the announcement today. The increase in national insurance is not a progressive move, although it will raise additional income, it will not fix a broken system. Today’s announcement risks delivering little change for many working age Disabled people who need social care support every day and do not have assets.
There can be no rights, inclusion, nor equality for Disabled people without an adequately funded national, free social care service that delivers support to enable Disabled and older people to live an equal life with access to the same choice and control as everybody else.
Free at the point of use
Social care must be free at the point of need, funded through progressive taxation. We must end this absurd distinction between medical and social care needs. We need to end the present postcode lottery to national entitlements and create a system that supports, values, and pays its workforce a decent wage and genuinely maintains independent living for Disabled and older people.
The government needs to provide an urgent injection of funding to stabilise the system and start to actively work with Disabled people to develop a social care service fit for our needs and the years to come.