The Independent Care Group, a key social care sector stakeholder, has stated that reforming social care should be the number one priority for the UK Government and have published a manifesto on social care. A number of issues are raised in this manifesto: 1.5m people are currently living with an unmet care need which is a significant increase year on year and needs to be addressed. More money is needed within the sector to stabilise the care home market and stop care homes closing. There are calls for funding for social care to be merged with funding for the NHS with those funds to be managed centrally or locally. They also call for a fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care, dementia to be categorised as a health issue and for people to be encouraged to save for their own costs of care. Other suggestions include an agreed minimum level of care fees to be established, tax breaks to be granted in the form of VAT for social care businesses and a root and branch overhaul of the way that social care is planned and funded amongst other suggestions.
This manifesto does place at its centre the best outcomes for the social care sector. Perhaps the most important takeaway from the Independent Care Group’s social care manifesto is for the Government to set in stone a firm timetable with targets and deadlines to reform social care which the prime minister should make a commitment to meeting.
The can has continued to be kicked down the road in addressing the social care crisis, all the while the magnitude of the task at hand continues to grow. Reform is needed, that much is agreed by all commentators in the sector, the question remains as to what form this will take shape. Voices will continue to grow and apply pressure to the Government to take comprehensive and considered action on social care reform.