The Chancellor’s Spring Statement has announced further delays to funding and reform of social care. A three-year Spending Review will now align with the Autumn Budget two years since the government announced its intentions to publish a green paper.
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) is calling on the government to rethink and bring forward much-needed reform.
While the government appears unable or unwilling to progress the green paper, says VODG, by contrast, it is railroading through controversial reforms on mental capacity legislation. The swift passage of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill proves that government can pick up the pace of reform – if it so chooses.
The national disability association has long lobbied government for sustainable reform of the social care system. It has also argued Brexit must not distract from domestic issues like social care.
VODG argues that the government must urgently reverse years of chronic under-funding in the sector. A clear policy direction for social care is vital along with a fair financial settlement that would guarantee the sector’s future.
Cumulative adult social care cuts since 2010, for example, total £7bn. VODG’s recent analysis A stitch in time: the case for funding social care highlighted the impact of underfunding on social care workforce recruitment and retention and stressed the importance of reform and future funding guarantees. The report also outlined the urgency of the matter – there are currently 11.5 million disabled people living in England, and this figure will increase to 12.2 million by 2025.
VODG also shares the concerns of the Local Government Association that delays to the Spending Review will hinder forward planning within councils, and VODG fears that this will impact on the commissioning and provision of essential care services.
Dr Rhidian Hughes, VODG chief executive, said:
“The case for a clear policy direction for social care is clear and is something VODG has argued for powerfully and repeatedly. While Brexit is a priority for government – and will have an undoubted impact on social care – it is not an excuse for it to drag its heels over social care. Government’s inability to produce the long-awaited green paper has a human impact because older and disabled people rely on social care. Ministers are effectively leaving a vital national support system in limbo instead of giving it a financial resource and strategic direction it urgently needs.”