The sector has responded to the Queen's Speech yesterday at the State Opening of Parliament. It included plans to bring forward the social care consultation and reform of mental health legislation.
Margaret Willcox, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said, 'We welcome bringing forward proposals for consultation on how best to improve social care because Government needs to keep this crucial issue at the top of its to-do list.
'We are also encouraged by reforms to mental health legislation and the pledge to prioritise mental health in the NHS.
'ADASS wants to work with Government to establish a strong and sustainable health and care system, which has never been more urgent or vital. A long-term funding solution that will work for everyone, regardless of their means, or nature of their disability, has to be a national priority to ensure certainty and continuity of personal, dignified care to the growing number of people living longer and with increasingly complex and costly needs.
'A wide-ranging public debate is needed to future-proof the provision of care in the most fair and affordable way. Crucial to this is the promised Green Paper, which must be realised, unlike numerous previous pledges of reform by successive governments which have fallen by the wayside.
'A rise in the National Living Wage is welcome, but the funding solution needs to address the recruitment, training and retention of dedicated staff operating under significant pressures on the system, and a fragile and unsustainable provider market.
'With a significant funding gap for social care forecast by the end of the decade, there is a need for the new Government to act urgently to give confidence to the million people who get social care support and their families so they can continue to be supported to lead independent and fulfilling lives.'
Bridget Warr CBE, UKHCA’s Chief Executive said, 'UKHCA welcomes the Government’s pledge to address the challenges of social care and bring forward proposals for consultations on the sector. This is vital and urgent. The UK needs plans to guarantee a long-term sustainable solution to ensure people needing care are properly supported and homecare providers are able to continue delivering that care into the future.
'We must ensure that the consultation adds up to more than just words and results in real positive action. It is also vitally important that we do not let the consultation take focus away from the need to address the pressing issues of providing services today. We need the government to make sure that funding provided in the current financial year is adequate and reaches front-line services, where it can make a difference.'
Representing carers, Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK said, 'We welcome the Government’s promise to create an economy that ‘works for everyone’ and this must include unpaid carers, who support family and friends who are disabled, ill or older...The Government’s announcement that it wishes to improve social care and bring forward proposals for consultation is promising...At a time when 74% of the public believe carers to be insufficiently valued, it is vital that upcoming social care proposals are developed in consultation with carers. Any policies must recognise and support the role of family and friends and provide a system of funding services which is fair, affordable and pools risk. After decades of working on future funding, we have to ensure that we see more investment in social care. We look forward to working with Government to achieve this goal.
We also welcome statements that Ministers will seek to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace and we urge the Government to legislate with working carers in mind...Finally, we are pleased to support the Government’s pledge to improve mental health legislation...It is time to redress the imbalance of mental health and ensure that families who are care are recognised and supported.'
Representing the concerns of disabled people, Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability said, 'We are deeply concerned by the lack of details on proposed action on the social care crisis in the Queen’s Speech today. We repeat our urgent calls for a long-term, cross-party solution to funding social care. Without that, we fear social care reform is doomed to fail, and will not address fundamental gaps in help for disabled people.
'Millions of people are affected by the social care crisis, but working age disabled adults make up a third of social care users and just under half of disabled adults who say they need social care do not receive any support at all. It is hugely disappointing that their needs seem to have disappeared from the Government’s priorities.
'We are pleased the speech mentioned disability discrimination, as politicians also need to face up to the scandalous waste of talent in this country, as a result of barriers to employment for disabled people. Expansion and reform of the Access to Work scheme is essential, as it provides vital support for disabled people and employers. We hope the new government will now offer clarity on its plans to stop disabled people being needlessly locked out of jobs.'