Getting social care right: we have a huge mountain to climb

Guest blog by Kate Allen, CEO at Autism at Kingwood

As the country comes to terms with the emotional cost of losing so many loved ones, the financial cost to the UK economy continues to grow with hundreds of billions having been spent on the Covid response.

Not only have costs increased, income has reduced with less being collected in tax and VAT as many people are furloughed and shops closed.

Yet, whilst appreciating that the government has a big task on its hands to tackle the national recovery that it is rightly focused on, it was a disappointing to see the briefest of mentions about reforming Adult Social Care in the Queens Speech.

Reassuring, yes, to hear commitment for NHS funding.

However it is obvious to many that the only way to ‘take this country forward’ and repair the NHS’ is to address those services that it relies on; none more significant than getting social care right.  

Recent reports have suggested that the Prime Minister is delaying social care reform because of the impact on either tax rises, or the necessity for cuts elsewhere.

Although proposals and call for reform go long before Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister said in his first speech as PM that he would “fix the crisis in social care once”.

High hopes dashed again…  

However, remaining ever optimistic (what other choice is there?!) I desperately hope that the repeated commitment after the Queens Speech that this Government will bring forward proposals this year will come to fruition.

And whilst I wait, I will continue to do whatever I can to influence whoever is, or is not, listening.

Most people would agree that one of the few positive things to come from Covid has been the recognition and increased profile of social care and those who provide it.

There have been small steps toward improved public awareness that the term ‘adult social care’ includes adults of all ages, with physical or learning disabilities, mental health conditions and autistic people.

And that working in social care is a meaningful, valuable and skilled profession. 

One where workers have the greatest of responsibilities to care, assist and support vulnerable people through their daily lives.

And if that isn’t enough to justify why those working in adult social care should receive better pay at least in line with the Real Living Wage, with more than 1.5 million workers in the sector there is a clear case that improved funding that would support an increase in salaries would in turn support the economy as all those people have more disposable income.

So we continue to make some noise with the BetterPay4SocialCare Campaign  along with 21 other social care organisations who have signed up to support the petition that currently has more than 3,500 signatures.

We have also joined the Future Social Care Coalition to combine our efforts and create a louder voice.

Whilst we are realistic enough to know that we have a huge mountain to climb, we are bold and brave enough to make our way up said mountain slowly!