George Osborne: invest in carers and protect our social care system

Before George Osborne unveils his Spending Review Carers Trust has one simple question to put to the Chancellor: will you help ensure unpaid carers get the support they need?

We now have legislation in place that would, if properly funded, make a genuine difference to the lives of carers across England. None of these improvements will become a reality without investment, however. It’s like giving a child a new toy for Christmas but without the batteries that will make it work.

That is why Carers Trust chose to focus its submission to the 2015 Spending Review on a series of recommendations that will ensure the existing rights for carers are implemented.

By 2020 there is expected to be a £4.3bn gap in social care funding. Without that money, social care will effectively cease to exist. Already we are seeing councils having to scale back or cut their services – leaving older people, disabled people, their families, and the unpaid carers who rely on these services without support they need. The government must plug this growing shortfall in local council’s social care budgets.

Secondly, existing pieces of legislation have to be properly funded. By giving every carer the right to an assessment of their needs for support, the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014 have both substantially improved the rights of carers. However, cuts to local authority budgets has raised real concerns about the capacity of councils to deliver these new duties. When the trend is towards reducing rather than expanding the support on offer, we can’t see how councils will be able to meet their new duties to carers. We’re therefore calling on the government to ensure councils have the funds necessary to implement their new duties and to make extra funds available if it emerges local authorities lack the resources they need.

The financial pressures facing councils are also set to increase. Next April a new National Living Wage of £7.20 will come into force. We welcomed this move because it means care workers, who often struggle on low pay, will be paid a decent wage. However, it won’t be possible for care organisations to pay their staff this new wage if they themselves don’t have enough money. The UK Homecare Association has estimated that councils will need an additional £753 million in order to ensure that care providers can pay the new Living Wage and we’re calling on the government to give councils at least that amount of money in the Spending Review.

Progress has been made in the legislative support offered to carers, but there is still some way to go. In particular, we still need to improve the help given to young carers and young adult carers who so often go unnoticed by our health and social care system. That’s why our Spending Review submission also called on the government to invest more in the support given to young carers while they are in school – making sure that their caring role doesn’t adversely affect those vital years of early education.

If the Chancellor commits to making these investments now, we believe that he will not only make a huge difference to the individual lives of carers. In fact, he won’t just be helping the people that carers are caring for. He could safeguard our entire social care system – a system that relies on unpaid carers being supported to look after people who would otherwise depend on our already stretched health and social care services. This November, we strongly urge the Chancellor to back carers and the legislation his government has already put in place to support them.

Gail Scott-Spicer is Chief Executive at Carers Trust




November 24, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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