‘Care more in ’24,’ says ICG Chair

Independent Care Group Chair Mike Padgham is calling on the country to ‘care more in ‘24’ as providers fight for reform of the way we look after our oldest and most vulnerable.

In a message for the coming year, Mr Padgham says 2024 has to be the year of social care.

He wants to see social care front and centre in the General Election manifestos; a start to major reform of the sector and greater recognition of the amazing work social care staff do.

But he also recognises that the sector has to “get its own house in order” and speak with a stronger and more unified voice.

“We have to care more in 2024 and finally begin the reform of social care we have been waiting for now for more than 30 years,” Mr Padgham said.

“2023 was a year few of us will want to remember. There was no movement on reform, a continuing squeeze on funding and, towards the end of the year, a couple of body blows that left us bruised.

“The unexpectedly large increase in the National Living Wage was welcome for employees and we all want to create a social care sector where our staff are paid much more than that. But without a boost in funding it is going to be hard to meet that and a major problem for care providers. And the ban on care workers bringing their dependents over is bound to deter some from coming at a time when they are making a vital contribution to our severely under-staffed sector. The Government has done nothing to help us recruit in this country.

“I for one would love to see a General Election this coming year, as it will give us an opportunity to reset and for the politicians to take a fresh look at their priorities for the years ahead.

“When we read the main political parties’ manifestos, hopefully very soon, I will look for some blue-sky thinking, particularly on social care.

“Social care reform makes sense from two enormous perspectives. Firstly, some extra funding into the sector will help us recruit staff and tackle the 1.6m people who cannot currently get the care they need, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more who will need it in the future. It would also help the NHS to cut delayed hospital discharges and lower waiting lists – surely, that’s win, win, win.

“And secondly, social care employs around 1.5m people in England, but with greater support, it could employ even more and increase the £55.7bn contribution it makes to the economy. It would also free up those currently unable to work because they are caring for loved ones.

“We have our part to play. We must ensure our house is in order, that we are doing all we can to recruit locally, for example, and to control our costs and make a job in social care as attractive as possible. We must work together to root out poor care that damages our reputation. And we must speak with a united voice and not be distracted by differences in approach – the argument over whether all care should be provided by not-for-profit organisations, for example.”

The Independent Care Group has set out its Five Pillars of Social Care. These include ring-fencing a percentage of GDP for care, creating a National Care Service, setting a minimum carer wage, establishing a task force for reform and creating fair tariffs for care beds and homecare visits.