One of the first things the Coalition Government did when it took office was to commission economist Andrew Dilnot to assess the state of our deteriorating social care system and provide recommendations on how to fund it more effectively and fairly in the future. He completed his report and published it one year ago today. Many in the disability sector hoped its common sense recommendations would be the foundation for a social care white paper due to be published earlier this year and a subsequent bill. Finally – we hoped – there would be positive moves towards fixing a system that is near collapse.
One year on, and there is still no sign of either the white paper or the bill, which is now no longer to be made law in this parliamentary term. While we wait, hundreds of thousands are likely to suffer from inadequate care or even the withdrawal of all support if you are deemed to not be “disabled enough” to meet local authority’s narrowing eligibility criteria.
This is frustrating for all of us who believe that disabled and older people deserve better quality support which isn’t subject to the postcode lotteries that currently prevail, not to mention highly damaging to the people who are missing out on crucial assistance. But new research offers a glimmer of hope for the thousands of disabled people, activists and charities who have been campaigning in the media to explain why the current system is in such a parlous state.
It would seem that the public have got the message: 7 out of 10 agree that disabled people and others with care needs aren’t getting enough support under the current system, according to research commissioned by the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of 65 charities, of which we are one. The British public has shown unmistakably that they can see the current system is failing, and that they want a fairer deal for people with support needs.
This morning, Emily Holzhausen of the Alliance took to the airwaves to get this message across, speaking on Radio 5 and in many other places. But this is one news story which deserves to be much bigger: after all, every adult in England has a 1-in-2 chance of needing care costing £20,000 or more and a 1-in-10 chance of needing care costing £100,000 or more.
We all need to ensure that the views of the public on this crucial issue are heard. The Care and Support Alliance is calling for the Government to publish its promised white paper and funding progress report into long term care now – before the summer recess. Any further delays are likely to hinder the progress of the draft Care and Support Bill and continue to make life difficult for the hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people who desperately need reform to happen.
We would also urge all of those who care about the future of social care to write to their MP expressing their concerns and fears about the current system.
Visit the Care and Support Alliance website here to find out more about the report and take action.
Jaime Gill, head of press and public affairs