ICG dismisses £500m for social care pledge

PLANS to inject £500m into social care has today been dismissed as a ‘sticking plaster over a gaping wound’ provided by a Government that doesn’t understand the crisis in the sector.

In its ‘Our Plan for Patients’ initiative the Government says the extra funding will help people get out of hospital and into social care support.

But whilst welcoming the extra money, provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) warned the £500m ‘will not even touch the sides’.

“Of course, every penny that gets to social care is welcome but really this sum is a little derisory,” said ICG Chair Mike Padgham.

“The Government has woefully under-estimated the depth of the crisis in social care and announcing this £500m as if it were the answer to our prayers is insulting.

“This is a sticking plaster put on a gaping wound by a doctor that doesn’t see how sick the patient is.

“Now that the Health and Social Care Levy is to be scrapped where is extra funding for social care – £13bn pledged by the Prime Minister during the leadership election – going to come from?”

The ICG wants to see measures that will help care and nursing homes and homecare providers survive the current cost of living and staffing crises.

But it says the Government must also set about long-term reform, including the setting up of a National Care Service – merging social care and NHS healthcare to provide seamless care.

“What we have today is more tinkering at the edges, a tiny sum of money thrown at social care in the short-term hope of alleviating problems,” Mr Padgham added.

“It is time for a fresh, bold new start on tackling the crisis in social care.

“There is plenty of expertise available in social care ready and willing to work in partnership with the Government to solve the problems and we urge the new administration to work with us, urgently, to find solutions.

“We need total root and branch reform to provide a properly-funded, sustainable social care service for everyone and proper funding to recognise and reward care staff and to tackle the critical staff shortages that are crippling the delivery of care.

“Unless we get that proper funding and reform there will be no homecarers to look after people when they are discharged from hospital or care and nursing homes for those who need round-the-clock care.

“In the past two days, the County Councils Network has warned that the cost-of-living crisis could add £3.7bn to the costs of delivering social care – putting huge pressure on those local authorities and creating a real risk of cutbacks.

“At the same time, The Homecare Association says an extra £1.7bn is needed to ensure providers can keep on providing vital care to people in their own home.

“In the light of those sums, doesn’t the Government’s pledge of £500m look a little pathetic.

“Rocketing fuel prices for homecare providers and gas and electricity prices for care and nursing homes are plunging many into very real financial difficulty right now and threatening their existence. We need urgent help now and long-term funding reform.”