For too long, adult social care has lacked the priority and attention it deserves. I believe that long-term reform is essential.
The outbreak of the coronavirus crisis and its spread throughout the country has demonstrated beyond all doubt just how important social care is. I pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of care workers, as well as NHS staff and key workers, who have gone the extra mile to care for older and vulnerable people. They deserve our respect, admiration and full support.
I believe mistakes were made at the beginning of this pandemic and the Government was too slow to act to protect older and disabled people. A report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee found that care staff were left without protective equipment, thousands of older people were discharged from hospitals to care homes without tests, and Ministers did not ensure that social care was given the focus it needed.
I am concerned that our social care sector has been underfunded for too long and it was ill-prepared to deal with a public health emergency like coronavirus. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) estimates that, following a decade of cuts to local government, more than £8 billion has been lost from adult social care budgets since 2010 and too many people have been left to cope without the support they need.
A report commissioned by the Local Government Association and ADASS found that adult social care providers and councils face up to £6.6 billion in extra costs as a result of the coronavirus emergency. I will press the Government to ensure that social care providers are compensated for the additional costs caused by COVID-19.
Beyond the pandemic, I support long-term reform to increase access to care, to help the 1.5 million people currently going without the support they need, whilst protecting people from high care costs. As part of a wider commitment to establish a National Care Service, I support introducing free personal care for all older people and extending this to working-age adults as soon as possible. I also that believe Ministers should address the widespread vacancies across social care, invest in the workforce and support unpaid carers.
I have written to Helen Whately, the Minister for Care, and asked her what the Government’s long-term plan to fix the broken adult social care system is. I have posted a copy of this letter below.
Adult social care reform has been, and will continue to be, one of the main focuses of the Shadow Cabinet. I will continue to use my position as a member of the Shadow Frontbench to raise the concerns of my constituents with the other members of the Shadow Frontbench and with the Government.