Across the country we are facing a real crisis in social care. A crisis caused by chronic underfunding in the face of growing need.
Last month in Parliament I spoke out about the crisis and called for urgent Government action.
Chronic underfunding and overstretched services have led to concerning developments related to the quality of care. Worryingly the Care Quality Commission found that a quarter of all services are failing on safety, a serious concern for staff and patients; local services need Government funding to improve this.
Government cuts to local authority budgets have led to a drastic reduction in the amount of money available to spend on social care. Warrington Borough Council, and other councils across the country, are being forced to do more with less. This has brought the provision of social care to breaking point.
By March of next year, £6.3 billion will have been cut from the Adult Social Care budget during 8 years under Conservative-led Governments. Worryingly 1.2 million older people in England do not receive the social care they need – up by 48% since 2010.
Social care is in a desperate state. Providers are closing and care contracts are being handed back to councils. Locally that means the Council has been approximately 500 hours of home care short on any given day, causing delayed transfers of care.
The Government’s response to these delays has been to punish overstretched local authorities for not meeting Better Care Fund Targets by withholding funding and imposing fines. At a time when councils are already struggling to provide care with limited funding, this out of touch Conservative Government is hitting them with punitive financial punishments.
Overstretched councils need government funding to stabilise the social care system, not threats to have that crucial funding taken away.
The Government should be supporting councils in providing dignity and independence to those who require social care, not making their jobs harder.
If this Government is not prepared to invest in essential care for the health and wellbeing of older people and people with disabilities, then what is it prepared to invest in?
In Westminster my Labour colleagues and I are calling for action to ensure that the care sector gets the funding it needs to prevent collapse and to ensure that in future hard-pressed councils stop being penalised for failing to meet unrealistic Government targets for delayed transfers of care.