Make social care a priority, ICG tells new PM in letter

The Independent Care Group has written to new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to make social care reform an urgent priority…

Here is our letter in full:

Dear Prime Minister,

First of all, many congratulations on being elected leader of the Conservative Party and our new Prime Minister, I wish you every success.

I appreciate that there are many vital issues facing you, including the economy and the cost-of-living crisis at home, and conflict in Ukraine, amongst other issues, abroad.

However, I want to press the case for a sector that has waited more than 30 years for reform and that is the care of our oldest and most vulnerable through social care.

Alongside your promise of a “stronger NHS” I hope you will create stronger social care, as the two cannot function in isolation. A properly funded, reformed social care sector will be vital for you to build that stronger NHS for the country.

For those 30 years, social care was not funded properly to provide a good, sustainable service for people who need that care every day to help them live a full life. Those years of underfunding left social care in a perilous state and Covid-19 then hit it hard.

Now the sector finds itself facing a massive staffing shortage and huge increases in costs, including rocketing fuel and utility prices.

Care and nursing homes are closing and homecare providers are also closing and handing back undeliverable contracts.

There is a very real risk of further significant provider failure with a subsequent loss of care provision. That will have a very real, detrimental effect on people – our mothers and fathers, our aunts and uncles, our brothers and sister.

Failure in social care would hit NHS care too as it is one of the bedrocks on which the health service is built. There are already huge delays in hospital discharges because there are no packages of social care available to look after people when they leave hospital. This is only going to get worse.

All of this will have a catastrophic effect on people who are already receiving care and on those who cannot currently get it. Prior to the pandemic it was estimated that some 1.6m were living without the care they need. This is likely to be much greater now.

Care providers have many innovative solutions to offer, including those of us here in North Yorkshire, and I urge you to use our expertise and knowledge to tackle the ongoing crisis. I extend an invitation to you to visit us on the frontline. I would also be happy to meet with you to discuss the issues and solutions.

We need urgent help. At the very least it is vital that health and social care will still get the promised £13bn in the coming three years now that the Health and Social Care Levy, funded by an increase in National Insurance, has been scrapped. It is our view that social care needs, as a minimum, the £7bn extra a year, identified by Jeremy Hunt when he was Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee. He acknowledged that even this extra £7bn a year would only help the sector to stand still and that it should be “a starting point for a wider series of reforms”.

We have had promise after promise of such reform for social care, including from Boris Johnson who pledged on the doorstep of Number 10 that he was going to “get social care done”.

He did not do so.

Now you have the opportunity to go down in history at the Prime Minister who did, finally, grasp the nettle of social care and give it the funding and reform it deserves and to create a social care sector that we can all be proud of, that works side by side to support the NHS and that is the envy of the world.

I hope you will seize that opportunity and offer my genuine support to do so.

I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Padgham
Chair
Independent Care Group