The Conservative Party leadership race has been whittled down to the final two candidates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will now hold hustings across the country to try and secure their win.
On 5th September 2022, the country will have a new Prime Minister and it is yet to be determined whether the current Secretary for State for Health and Social Care will remain in post. One thing that is for certain is that the adult social system will require increased and sustained funding to cover the rising costs of inflation. This all comes at a time when ADASS, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, has warned that ‘the year ahead will be the most challenging adult social care and the people needing and working in it have ever faced’.
Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum said, ‘The social care sector is watching the Conservative leadership race with great concern. With two varying views on how to manage the economy, it is essential that the new leader commits to address the chronic underfunding in social care. This Government has a responsibility to make good its manifesto promise and put in place a sustainable funding mechanism to meet the government’s reform plans and design a social care system for the future that all can hold in the highest regard.’
The not-for-profit sector is calling for a greater share of the levy, not less, to allow the plans of reform to be met. The Government’s reform plans include a cap on care costs, a fair price for social care providers, the ability for those who fund their own care to pay at the local authority fair price for care rates (which is now planned to be phased in over 18 months from October 2023), and greater investment in the workforce and innovation. NCF members want to see a greater commitment from Government to enabling and funding better pay, terms and conditions for the workforce, alongside a dedicated workforce plan.
Taxes, the cost of living and Brexit have largely dominated the agenda and Access Social Care, like many leaders in the social care sector have been left to think, what about us?
Kari Gerstheimer, Chief Executive of Access Social Care said, ‘With just two candidates left to battle for leadership of both the Conservative Party and the country, I can’t help but think that something is amiss. Throughout this contest there has been a distinct lack of discourse about the future of the social care system. Once again, the care sector is playing second fiddle to the NHS and appears to be somewhat of a political afterthought. In 2019 Boris Johnson pledged to “fix social care once and for all” – but social care is not fixed, and it’s high time we have a Prime Minister that will make good on this promise.
‘Very few of us are untouched by social care – at the last count there were over 14 million carers in this country and over half a million people waiting just to get an assessment. I echo Professor Vic Rayner in saying that social care matters to us all, it matters to the survival of the NHS, and we cannot fix the economy by leaving vital parts of society on the back foot.’
Access Social Care would like to see the new Prime Minister make and act on bold commitments to adult social care, by helping to decentralise decision making and give Local Authorities the funding power needed to provide adequate social care, rather than spending precious resources keeping people out of the system in an attempt to protect the bottom line. In a recent interview with The Guardian the Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, proposed that Labour would aim to launch a ‘National Care Service’ – Access Social Care wants the next resident of Number 10 to have similarly bold plans to protect older and disabled people and to remember the social care component of Health and Social Care.
In other news, The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has warned that gaps remain in how vulnerable people are protected in care settings, leaving their human rights at risk of being breached.