Opinion social care

We need a cross party consensus on social care

Dan Archer, Chief Executive at home care franchise Visiting Angels

With the election results now in, Dan Archer, Chief Executive at home care franchise Visiting Angels, discusses the urgent need for a cross-party consensus on social care and the specific impact on the home care sector.

With the election results now in,  it is disheartening that politicians are still not substantively addressing social care. Our sector has been crying out for cross party agreement on social care and for once we have it – sadly it is a conspiracy of silence regarding the scale of the problem that we face as a country.

Although the Liberal Democrats have proposed a distinct minimum wage level for care workers and Labour has promised a pay review along with their aim to form a National Care Service, there has been a distinct lack of detailed discussion from party leaders about social care in the run up to the election. Having watched most, if not all of the TV debates the NHS has featured far more prominently than social care whilst funding for social care has been completely ignored.

With Labour now in government, questions arise about where the funding for promised pay increases will come from and what the timeline and costs associated with the National Care Service will be. Politicians seem to fear that the debate will inevitably focus on funding sources. In my discussions with journalists over the past three years, irrespective of the topic, the question of funding always arises. My response is often, “I run a care business; it’s not my problem, it’s one for the politicians!”

The truth is our elected representatives know that Social Care is a politically difficult ball to hit. They perceive it as concerning a smaller portion of the electorate and requiring more tax revenue to fund it. So, during elections parties focus on issues that have maximum voter appeal with minimal perceived additional cost

Here however I feel that politics has misread the situation. I have always said that people don’t know about our sector unless they work in it or have received care for a family member. Ed Davy and Angela Rayner are pretty good examples of this. The problem today however is that care and unmet care needs do have a much wider impact on society. The large number of people in society needing care now and in the next electoral cycle of five years, coupled with the increasing vacancy rates in social care can mean only one thing. More daughters and sons will have to be caring for their own parents. The economic impact of this is huge in days of work lost and economic inactivity.

This situation is particularly pressing in the home care sector, which includes providers, community care workers, and the people in the community who rely on these services. Community care workers are already overstretched and underpaid, facing increasing demands with insufficient support. Home care providers struggle with funding constraints and high staff turnover, which impacts the quality and continuity of care. For individuals in the community who depend on these services, the uncertainty and inconsistency in care provision can lead to significant distress and unmet needs.

Politicians also fear the question of who pays for it, with many families already funding their own care and subsidising poorly commissioned local authority contracts. Therefore, it costs people more individually than it would collectively. It is time for political parties to be honest about the broader impact of underfunded care and where the money truly comes from.

visiting-angels.co.uk

Kirsty

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