The Government yesterday published its long-awaited White Paper for social care. Maria Mills, our CEO, shares her views:
“There is a lot to like in the white paper. At last it feels like there’s a recognition and deeper understanding of the huge value of social care and the impact it makes on people’s lives. The interconnectedness of social care with housing, community and work opportunities, supported through technology is well argued. The emphasis on coproduction is spot on as is the commitment to working with people and the sector as a whole to turn the white paper into deliverable actions.
Unfortunately, the identified resources to deliver the strategy’s ambition remain woeful over the next three years. Most new funding coming into social care is to pay for managing the new social care cap rather than plugging the huge hole in funds to address the immediate social care crisis and unmet needs. For example is nothing in the white paper which will address the urgent workforce crisis which has left the sector on its knees and people without care. The promise of £500m over three years for workforce development works out at just £2 per week for each care worker.
Care workers are leaving the sector in droves to work in retail and hospitality, where they can earn more in a less pressurised job. Higher costs of living and the upcoming rise in national insurance contributions will hit an already underpaid workforce hard. Local authorities and health do not play providers enough to pay for decent wages for care staff, a position which has got worse over the last decade.
Staff shortages and unsustainable funding are undermining the quality and safety of care for vulnerable people, and the worry is that the positive elements of the white paper will be lost due to a lack of investment and a lack of urgency.”