Social care was conspicuous by its absence from the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week.

In preceding weeks United Response and our partners in LD Voices have been talking to politicians from across the political divide, including members of the Government, about just how tight funding is to provide essential care for people with learning disabilities.

Agreement of social care's status

There was, and remains broad agreement that social care is in crisis. This consensus, among MP’s from rural Conservative constituencies, to those in urban Labour seats, exists because these politicians have the same problem. More and more elderly and disabled people are coming along to constituency surgeries, desperate for help because they are not receiving the care that they badly need.

The social care crisis is therefore, not a hypothesis, but a fact widely known by anyone who has looked into the statistics and spoken to anyone who works in or receives social care. Many local authorities can no longer fund care they have a statutory duty to provide under the Care Act.

This is a fact determined by an extensive report from the House of Commons Health Select Committee earlier this year. Analysis reiterated by its Conservative Chair Sarah Wollaston last week, and repeated by two former Conservative Health Secretaries and the CEO of NHS England.

Calls to the Chancellor

The Local Government Association, The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and worrying evidence from the Care Quality Commission; all called on the Government to urgently address the current funding crisis and to put in place a longer-term settlement to ensure that the social care system is sustainable going forward.

It was widely presented to the Chancellor by politicians from across the political divide, and throughout the social care sector, that the council tax precept, Better Care Fund and local business rates alone cannot fund social care.

So the Chancellor’s failure to mention or even address social care within his fiscal plans is puzzling to put it diplomatically. But perhaps he was following the lead of his Prime Minister.

Theresa May's comments on social care

Before Philip Hammond began his Autumn Statement, Theresa May answered PMQs on social care by defending those current funding mechanisms proven to be inadequate: “What the Government are doing about social care is to put more money in through the better care fund, to give local authorities the opportunity that is in the social care precept and to make sure that health and social care come together.”

It seems puzzling for a Prime Minister battling for a country that works for all, and for those just about managing, that she does not think anything additional should be done for the most vulnerable elderly and disabled people in society, who might be deemed to be just about existing.

There is no question that economic uncertainty brought about by the electorate’s decision to leave the European Union gives the Government little room for manoeuvre. But a decision not even to mention social care, or even to begin a debate about ways in which sustainable funding might be achieved, is truly perplexing.

That ‘something’ needs to be done might be a good place to start, and a maxim which the Government might be able to agree with. All parties engaged in social care, including the current Government, might also agree to the aspiration, that that ‘something’ is done before another major catastrophe or scandal takes place to provide the impetus needed for meaningful action.

How you can help us campaign

If you or someone you support would like to send a message on social care, please get involved in our Postcards from the Edges campaign.

We’re also asking people to tweet their messages to Chancellor Philip Hammond @PHammondMP using the hashtag #TellPhil.

Find out more about Postcards from the Edges

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