CARE AND SUPPORT WEST RESPONSE TO THE AUTUMN STATEMENT

David Smallacombe and Len Collacott (Chief Executive and Chair of Care and Support West) offer this as a reality check on the current state of care. The small text notes were gleaned (in part at least) from the Guardian Newspaper on Sunday November 27th.   

Spending by local authorities on older people’s care has fallen by almost 10% in the first half of this decade. The number of older people receiving care has fallen by more than 400,000 – one in four fewer people getting help with basic needs. Family, neighbours and friends pick up the pieces and some older people pay privately. But increasing numbers of the poorest have no one to turn to. This growing gap has a human cost, but it’s also affecting the NHS.

Meanwhile, the government continues to claim that the NHS is receiving an extra £10bn between 2014/15 and 2020/21, despite a direct challenge from the chair of the health select committee and a warning from the UK Statistics Authority. It makes this inflated claim based on a definition of “NHS” different to that used by all previous governments.

Extra funds were promised for social care from last year’s spending review, but too little and too late. Many working in social care are on the lowest wages. The national living wage will rise to £7.50 from April 2017 – welcome for the workforce, but a further cost pressure. This, coupled with rising demand from an ageing population, means social services across England face a £2.4bn funding gap next year.

Local authorities are running out of options – they have cut providers’ margins to the bone and many are walking away from contracts. Almost everyone currently receiving local authority-funded social care has been assessed as high need, so withdrawing services will bite especially hard. Who will hurt most? The poorest. The “just about managing” will “just not manage”.

The divide between those vulnerable people “who have” and those who “have not” seems to be widening at an alarming rate. Add to this that the have nots have only a small voice when it comes to lobbying for what we all know needs to be the sensible and immediate changes required in the care sector and that awful phrase “The Perfect Storm” seems to be an inevitable next step. 

Must we await a serious disaster to befall the industry before Government will take any notice of leading opinion bodies such as NHS England, The Kings Fund, CQC, Care England, ADASS, and UKHCA not to mention members of the public? We hope this will not be the case but neither of us is about to put a bet on anyone seeing sense til the industry is nearer to being on its knees!!

In the meantime, and with a small but significant note of Christmas Cheer, help us make the necessary points like those above to local and central government on your behalf though YOURCare Association.