“I AM writing to you with a heartfelt plea for your support on the crisis in social care, which has left 1.4m older and vulnerable adults in England without the care they need.
In a sector seriously starved of funding, care and nursing homes are closing, homecare agencies are closing and handing back contracts and extra care and day care facilities are all struggling.
This means that many, many thousands of our most fragile residents are not getting the care they have a right to expect.
Demand for more and more complex care rises by the day and – without action – that 1.4m will grow substantially.
Some £7bn has been cut from council social care budgets in the past eight years and the sector is facing a predicted shortfall of some £2.8bn by 2019/20, or £3.5bn by 2025.
We cannot wait for the long-promised and long-delayed Green Paper on care, because even when that is finally published it will be many months, if not years, before we see meaningful change.
We need action now.
As a country, we need to see full integration of NHS care and social care to guarantee people true, cradle to the grave care.
Greater parity in funding between the two – with some funding switched to social care – would actually save the NHS money by having people cared for in their own home or care or nursing homes rather than in costly NHS hospital beds.
An extra £20bn has been found for the NHS over the next five years, which is more than the total public spending on adult social care. Money can be found without raising taxation and it is vital that we do the same for social care.
Greater funding would allow care providers to invest in paying staff better – addressing the current staffing crisis which stands at 90,000 vacancies a day, and to invest in expanding and innovating in the care they provide.
A good place to start would be by ending the VAT anomaly that currently costs social care providers many millions of pounds each year.
By making care zero-rated, providers could claim back the tax they pay, freeing up money they need to invest in care.
Aside from the irresistible human need to resolve social care funding quickly, there is also a very strong economic case too.
Social care employs 1. 5m people, which is 200,000 more than the NHS, and contributes £46.2bn to the economy.
With the right support, it could contribute even more, while providing proper, sustainable care for a rapidly ageing population.
Governments of all political persuasion have failed to tackle social care and we are now sleepwalking towards a greater crisis that will see hundreds of thousands more people going without care.
We have had 12 social care ministers in the past 20 years and still we are in the mess that we see today.
The last 20 years have seen 12 Green Papers, White Papers and consultations of one kind and another about social care, and five independent reviews of funding.
We talk the talk and set out with good intentions I am sure, but always get the same disastrous result.
We never learn and, as the saying goes, “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
What is needed now is not more analysis but a clear commitment to action to address both the immediate short term pressures and longer term sustainable funding.
Today I urge you to take action to stop the crisis in social care and help hundreds of thousands of people currently denied the care they need.”
Mike Padgham is chair of the Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire).