We need equal and urgent investment in social care
Our Chief Executive, Sue Porto, shares her views on yesterday's announcement on social care funding.
After years of chronic underinvestment, the social care sector is fractured and in crisis. The issues faced by the sector pre-date the pandemic, but it has inevitably applied additional pressures. The reform and additional funding that is so desperately required has been promised by successive governments but never arrived. In the meantime, providers across the sector have faced huge financial challenges to deliver essential support to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
An ever-deepening crisis
More recently, wider workforce shortages caused by Covid and Brexit have contributed to a considerable deepening of that crisis. Not only is it increasingly difficult to recruit people, we do not have the income to pay colleagues at the rates that they truly deserve. Many providers, including Brandon, are increasingly reliant on the goodwill of staff teams, already fatigued by the pandemic, to deliver the essential support we provide. It is quite simply wrong, that the people who hold responsibility for people’s lives and wellbeing in their hands, are amongst the lowest paid people in society.
We will do everything within our power to relieve that pressure on our frontline colleagues, who go above and beyond every day to ensure the people we support live the lives they choose. But there is a limit to what we can do without additional funding and without this, I am in no doubt the current situation is entirely unsustainable.
An increased burden on social care
This is why yesterday’s announcement on the health and social care levy was so incredibly disappointing for me, and all the wonderful, committed people who work in our sector. There can be no disagreement that the NHS must receive the investment that it needs and deserves. However, by diverting the majority of funds for the first three years to the NHS and increasing the financial burden on workers and social care employers, plans as they stand are likely to make things worse, rather than better for providers like Brandon and ultimately and importantly, the people we support.
We estimate that next year, the levy will in fact cost us over £1m, to increase pay so that colleagues are not disadvantaged by the increase in national insurance, and to meet our own obligations as an employer. This is at a time where we need to place all available funds into improving pay and conditions, not standing still, as well as making sure we place the people we support, and quality, at the heart of all we do.
No guarantees additional costs will be covered
Whilst the Prime Minister has stated that money will go ‘straight to the front line’ and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has said the levy would mean that local authorities could pay more for care, there is no obligation for them to do so. Indeed, many are experiencing huge financial challenges of their own. There are no guarantees that they will be able to cover these additional costs for us. It appears this levy has the potential to fan the flames of the social care crisis, as opposed to dampen them.
Adults of working age at the back of the queue
The only significant mention of social care in recent weeks has related to capping of costs for elderly care. We must remember that social care is a much broader area supporting many working age adults who rely on this support to live their best lives. Whilst elderly care is vitally important we cannot keep placing working age adults to the back of the queue when it comes to investing in them and those who provide their invaluable support.
A social care sector in crisis only burdens our NHS
I agree and understand that it is critical for the NHS to receive the funding it so desperately requires. However, it is also equally critical for the Government to recognise that a social care sector in crisis will only ever place significant and additional burden on our health services.
We call on the Government to urgently reconsider and review their plans to ensure there is equal and urgent investment in both health and social care, that benefits both those who receive and those who directly deliver those essential services. We need to ensure fair pay for our staff who have worked so tirelessly throughout the pandemic and make sure their value is recognised not only through clapping and cheering, but through real, immediate and impactful change.
An opportunity to truly consider the voices of the most vulnerable
The promised white paper presents a huge opportunity to do better for all the vulnerable adults in our society. We are here and willing to be involved in the development of any plans, to ensure they truly consider the voices of those who all too often have struggled to be heard, and make a real and meaningful difference to their lives.
I believe that it is only by doing this, and ensuring that health and social care operate in a truly integrated way, that we will remain able to provide high quality, effective support and care to all those who need and deserve it.