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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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