How social care is further neglected by Boris Johnson NHS reforms – Mark Adams

THE Prime Minister has unveiled his long-awaited social care reforms. Here are 10 questions that Boris Johnson has still failed to answer.

Boris Johnson's social care reforms continue to come under scrutiny.

1. The social care sector is engulfed in crisis, yet the PM focused only on care home costs – how does this fix things?

Reducing the cost of care for older people is vital but they represent only 25 per cent of those who access care. Johnson has chosen to focus on the recognisable and politically positive face of care, ignoring the millions of family carers, disabled people and care workers who have been left behind.

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2. Why does reform overlook the need for fair pay for social care workers?

Mark Adams is chief executive of national social charity Community Integrated Care.

Social care is an incredibly rewarding career – but needs fairer pay. Our ‘Unfair to Care’ report (www.UnfairToCare.co.uk) proves that many social care workers would be paid 39 per cent more if they held equivalent roles in public sector industries, like the NHS. Why has the Government ignored this inequality?

3. After tax, the average social care worker has an income of £319 per week. After rent and household bills, that leaves them with around £140 to live off.

Next April’s increase in National Insurance will effectively rob the poorest paid in the country of one week’s income each year – how is that fair?

We have had to set up a welfare fund to support our staff who face financial challenges. Many social care workers are often reliant on food banks and charities themselves. Is this really the country we want to live in?

Boris Johnson's social care reforms continue to come under scrutiny.

4. Over the past five years our charity has either operated at a loss or, at best, broken even. We now have to find another £1m in Employers’ NI – how does this make sense?

Some 56 per cent of care providers report that they are either in deficit, with costs exceeding funding, or that surplus has significantly decreased. With increased costs and no new funding, we are going to see many care organisations fail.

5. The announcement was positioned as fixing social care, with limited money going across until 2023. How is this fixing social care?

Social care has been the Cinderella service to the NHS for too long. These reforms are reliant on funding which has mainly been allocated to the NHS and, once again, the sector is left looking for crumbs.

6. The NHS has always expanded to consume any funding it is given. Why, without reform, does the PM assume that the £12bn a year won’t be fully consumed by the NHS?

The Government needs to put forward a clear plan for how it can ensure that funding is appropriately shared across health and social care. The NHS relies on a functioning social care system, so integration is key.

7. There are 112,000 vacancies in social care. How can you ignore that front-line workers are being offered 10-20 per cent more to work in roles in supermarkets and the leisure/hospitality industries?

Social care is a rewarding role but it is complex, technically and emotionally demanding. With no prospect of new funding for pay, why would people choose to join or stay in the sector? In Scotland we have a consultation on building a National Care Service, staff are professionally qualified and better paid.

8. Why has the Government not listened more to people who access social care, its workforce and the organisations provide support, to understand what the sector truly is – and what it can be?

Social care gives people the support they need to lead a full, happy and purposeful life, as part of their community. Listen to people who access social care to discover the support they want. Speak to care providers, who can drive innovation, quality and impact, to make our communities better. This reform lacks vision.

9. Covid and low-pay means that social care workers are nearing breaking point and vacancies are likely to increase exponentially. If we do not focus on their wellbeing, who will support those who access social care? Why is the Government not recognising this looming crisis-upon-a crisis?

10. The PM referred to people being in hospital who should be supported in the community. Won’t the job crisis result in more people having to go into hospital or will they just be left with no support?

Boris Johnson talked about “the 30,000 hospital beds in England occupied by people who would have been better cared for elsewhere”. But rather than fix the problem – indeed fix social care – the Government is creating a perfect storm.

Mark Adams is chief executive of national social charity Community Integrated Care.

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