Scarborough group calls for social care support

Picture by James Neale
Picture by James Neale

Care providers are calling on the Chancellor to include a rescue plan for the struggling social care sector in next week’s budget.

The Independent Care Group, based in Scarborough, says the country desperately needs measures to help the 1.4m people who are currently going without the care they need.

And they say supporting social care makes sense not only from a caring perspective but from an economic one too, warning that the country is running out of people to provide care.

It wants to see:

· Merging NHS health care and social care into a National Care and Health Service

· Greater funding for social care – possibly through taxation and/or NI contributions – helping social care and easing the burden on the NHS

· A bursary to encourage more nursing staff into the profession

· Dementia to be regarded as a health issue and supported like other illnesses

· An end to the VAT anomaly that damages care providers.

The independent Care Group’s Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “Social care is at crisis point, with more and more people not getting the care they need and 90,000 care job vacancies on any one day. The budget gives the Government the opportunity to take emergency measures to alleviate the hardship currently being felt by almost a million and a half people.

“Investing in social care alleviates the strain on NHS services and gives people the care they need – it also supports a sector that is vital to the economy and which has to grow in the future to meet rising demand. If, as the Prime Minister has claimed, austerity is over, then our oldest and most vulnerable adults should be the first to see the benefit.”

Skills for Care says the adult social care sector in the UK contributes £46.2bn to the economy and represents 6% of total employment. The sector offers services across 45,000 sites in the UK and provides 1.8m job roles. More than a million people receive care.

However, demand for care is growing very quickly and Mr Padgham says that without proper investment in the sector, the number of people employed in care will fall, placing the burden on everyone else.

“We are quite literally running out of people to provide care and that will mean people staying at home to provide care, rather than carrying out other jobs, which will ultimately damage our economy,” he warned.

“It’s estimated that by the year 2030 we’ll need an extra 700,000 people to provide care for a rapidly ageing population. But the reality is that we have 90,000 care vacancies on any one day at the moment so unless we invest in social care, we won’t have anywhere near enough people.”

One thing the Group says the Chancellor could do straight away is address a VAT anomaly that affects care providers adversely.

At the moment, social care providers are charged VAT for goods and services they buy to provide care but cannot charge VAT to offset that VAT bill. The care group wants to see this changed.

Mr Padgham added: “Governments have never really recognised the huge contribution social care makes and the significant role it is going to play in the future. We believe it is time social care did get that recognition. Changing the rules on VAT in this budget would be a place to start, alongside emergency measures to get more funding into the sector.”

The Group described the extra £240m announced for social care as “a drop in the ocean” compared to what is needed to address a shortfall in the sector that is seeing care and nursing homes close and homecare providers handing back unviable contracts.

The Independent Care Group says the long-awaited Green Paper on social care to provide a proper solution to the long-term funding of the sector to tackle the current scandal of 1.4m older and vulnerable adults living without the care they need.