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CSA’s open letter to the Chancellor: Prioritise social care in your Spring Budget

March 6, 2023

Dear Chancellor, 

Please use your Budget to help those who give and receive social care  

We believe you have the most developed understanding of social care, the benefits good care brings and the huge problems for individuals and their families and carers when it is not available, of anyone who has ever occupied your role as Chancellor of the Exchequer. We sincerely hope you will draw on all that experience and insight and will take decisive action to support social care in your Budget on March 15th. As the co-chairs of an alliance of more than sixty charities that work with older and disabled people, and their unpaid carers, our honest belief is that this extra support is needed from you now more than ever.   

We know you recognise that social care is a long way from being fixed and that a lot has to change to ensure everyone receives decent care, enabling them to live will, now and into the future. The need for a long term plan to transform social care is unarguable, but given what we are seeing this winter we believe there are three more urgent social care priorities you should focus on in your forthcoming Budget. They are firstly to halt the alarming rate of attrition within the workforce; secondly, to do more to support the unpaid carers on whom the entire social care system depends; and thirdly, to help people on low incomes and with modest assets to manage the rising cost of care, so they keep having it.   

We therefore urge you to give consideration to the following measures: 

  1. A richly deserved pay rise for all care workers, not only those working around hospital discharge, to support recruitment and retention. Social care needs to be able to compete with retail and hospitality for staff, and salaries need to be closer to those in the NHS for equivalent jobs. Unless and until action like this is taken we can only see the care workforce continuing to haemorrhage staff, with disastrous consequences for all who need their support.    
  2. A doubling of the funding available for short breaks for carers, so those who are exhausted and at risk of burning out can have a rest, helping them to maintain their health and morale, and sustain their caring arrangements.  
  3. Increase the lower capital limit to £20,000 and the upper capital limit to £100,000 within the social care means test, as proposed in the Government’s 2021 Social Care White Paper. In our view this would allow some disabled and older people to keep receiving the care they need and have to pay for, rather than feeling they have no choice but to give it up or cut it back, because they simply cannot afford it.  

We know you fully appreciate the interdependencies between Health and social care, and the fact that measures like the three we propose would not only be hugely helpful to millions of older and disabled people and unpaid carers, they would also reduce demands on the NHS at a time when it needs to be freed up to concentrate on reducing waiting lists – one of five current Government objectives. It is clear that the NHS cannot succeed for as long as social care is failing. Please use your position to help social care by bringing in the measures we propose, in the best interests of us all.  

Yours sincerely,  

Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director, Age UK 

Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK 

Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of Communication, Advocacy and Activism, Mencap 

Care & Support Alliance Co-Chairs

ADASS / CSA Joint Statement on Fuel Price Rises

February 2, 2022

Responding to growing concerns about the impact of fuel price rises for older people, disabled people and carers, Cathie Williams, ADASS chief executive, and the co-chairs of the Care and Support Alliance have issued the following joint statement:   

Despite recent announcements about the ending of most Covid restrictions, for many older people, disabled people and their family carers the fear of Covid remains and people will continue to isolate at home, especially amongst those who are clinically vulnerable. The impact upon people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing of spending excessively long periods in isolation has been well documented, but the financial impact has been less well understood.

Many people with care and support needs have already experienced an increase in household energy costs as a result of extended periods of time spent at home. For some, price increases will have been significantly higher as a result of their energy supplier going bust and being moved to a provider of last resort on higher tariffs. We also know that it is harder for some people to navigate the complicated energy market and to shop around for cheaper deals. Yet the price increases experienced so far are relatively low compared to the price hikes everyone will face from April 1st.  

We know that a lot of older and disabled people and their family carers are amongst those in society with the lowest household income and as a result, their energy costs are a significantly higher proportion of the income. These huge prices rises will leave many people, potentially already in poorer health, with the terrible decision of choosing between heating and eating. We are therefore calling for the Government to provide additional financial support to people who need care and support, and their family carers to enable them to heat their homes without having to worry about further reductions to their quality of life.

CSA’s statement in response to the White Paper on social care

December 1, 2021

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK and Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:

“This White Paper sets out some important, long overdue policy advances, but lack of investment means any changes will be modest and slow to arrive, whereas the scale of the challenge is huge and demands urgent action now. The millions of older and disabled people putting up with inadequate services, if they get any service at all, needed the Paper to turbo-charge a process of transformation, but that was never going to be possible with the meagre funding allocated by the Treasury to it at the Spending Review. Rather than the formula one vehicle that was required, the Paper is an underpowered saloon car at best.

“Over time, the Paper’s provisions to improve data collection, spread the use of IT across the care sector and put in place a stronger workforce infrastructure are likely to prove extremely valuable, the foundations of a less intensely fragile system in future. However, in all honesty most people would reasonably expect these basics to be in place already. The fact they are not reflects how badly social care has been neglected by governments for far too long. The Paper signals an important acknowledgement that this must now change, but one can’t help but be conscious of just how far there is to go before every older and disabled person who needs a decent care service actually receives it – we are way behind some other comparable countries in this respect.  

“Meanwhile, Rome burns. Chronic workforce shortages are the biggest concern and seem to be getting worse, with uncompetitive pay the main culprit. There is nothing in the Paper to suggest the Government has any real strategy for dealing with it, given the lack of care funding overall. If COVID surges this winter because of the new variant these workforce problems will be magnified, with potentially disastrous consequences. There are similar concerns about unpaid carers collapsing after an unbelievably challenging twenty months too.

“Mapping out a positive journey is incredibly hard when you are essentially in the midst of a crisis, the ground wobbling below your feet. That’s where social care is today, and it means that until the Government does more to put out the immediate fires, any efforts to craft a better future always risk achieving much less than they should or being undermined along the way.”

CSA’s response to the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review

October 27, 2021

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK and Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

“Today, social care needed a big injection of guaranteed, additional funding for now and the future, but the Chancellor didn’t deliver it. The extra money that was announced for local government was not ring-fenced for social care and will need to be stretched thinly across council services, after a decade of under-funding.”

“The end result is that there is no relief in sight for older and disabled people who require care, and their families and carers, who are having to put up with services under extreme duress – if they can get any help at all.”

“It’s no good the Government promising the possibility of more funding for care in a few years’ time if today’s provision continues to disintegrate and more workers walk away.

“If the Prime Minister’s ambition to ‘fix social care’ is ever to be realised Rishi Sunak has to play his part by providing enough funding to make it happen. He hasn’t done so and therefore, unfortunately, the future of social care remains as uncertain as ever, with the credibility of the Prime Minister’s promise increasingly on the line.”

CSA’s response to the Government’s Health and Social Care NI increase

September 7, 2021

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK and co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

“Our initial assessment is that while the Prime Minister’s announcement doesn’t give us everything we wanted and we are worried about the funding, it is definitely worth having and a once in a generation opportunity to improve social care that must not be allowed to slip away.”   

“At last, there’s some hope for a better future and we all stand to gain, since any of us, at any age, could develop a need for care.” 

“If the Prime Minister’s proposals are put into action he will deserve real credit for breaking a log jam that has held back social care reform for far too long. The intense debate about how to pay for it must not obscure the paramount importance of action being taken now to stabilise and rebuild care, especially after its terrible mauling by COVID-19.” 

“At £86,000 the cap provides some much needed certainty and removes the fear of care bills spiralling to infinity, though at that level it will help fewer people than many had hoped. A more generous means test is arguably the more significant announcement for most and will result in greater numbers receiving at least some financial help. However, there is a lot of devil in the detail which we need to understand before reaching a final judgement. 

“The NHS is being given extra funding upfront and social care desperately needs that too. Unless the Chancellor delivers substantially more investment into councils’ budgets in the autumn Spending Review there’s a real risk that the Prime Minister’s announcement will fall flat.”  

“The proposals are broader than many expected and some of the non-cap elements that will be fleshed out later this year have exciting potential to increase the quality and quantity of care on offer to older and disabled people, and their families caring for them, as well as how joined up it is with the NHS, of great importance to many frail older people in particular. We look forward to hearing more.   

“It’s good to see serious investment in workforce training – though we doubt this will prevent disillusioned staff from continuing to drift away for better paid jobs elsewhere. On the care workforce we wanted the Government to go further and do more to improve terms and conditions.”