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16 September 2011
As Party Conference season kicks off this weekend, Age UK calls on all political parties not to let down older people and future generations by ignoring one of the biggest challenges facing the country – the reform of the social care and support system.
All political parties have previously stated their support for long term care reform; however there has been no clear commitment for radical change of the care system and little improvements to front line care services. Despite promises of additional funding of £1 billion and a further £1 billion for social care to be provided through the NHS, Age UK has seen little evidence to show the money is getting through the system to the people who need it most. Much of the additional money merely offset the social care money taken from local authorities in their reduced grant settlement from central Government.
Out of the two million older people in England who need care, around 800,000 receive no formal help from public or private sector agencies. With spending cuts underway the figure is likely to reach one million between 2012 and 2014.
Age UK has raised its concerns in a letter to George Osborne and is calling for the Government to look urgently into the current crisis in social care; to track how the money allocated has been spent and ensure the most vulnerable are protected from the effects of reduced local government spending.
The Charity is also calling for political parties to use the recently published Dilnot and Law Commission reports as a springboard to creating a sustainable and fair care system for older people. Both reports have set out recommendations that provide a clear framework for reform. Age UK believes that the country cannot afford to wait longer for a radical overhaul of the care system and that party politics cannot be allowed to get in the way of ensuring that future generations of older people do not have to suffer the shambolic care system currently endured by hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, said:
“All political parties have a role to play. The reform of social care will demand significant coordinated action from politicians of all parties – this will not be a one-term parliamentary solution but a long-term shift in order to meet the needs of our ageing population.
“Funding a sustainable and fair social care system is achievable, but it needs to be set as a political priority by all parties. The Dilnot Commission produced a widely welcomed report – we have the blueprint, now we need the Government to just get on with it and publish a white paper on care and funding by next spring.
“The escalating crisis in our social care system shames our country and shames the politicians who allow it to continue. The Government and Opposition need to park their party politics and commit to working together to ensure that the Dilnot and Law Commission reports are not allowed to gather dust but become the basis of a future care system that no longer fails the most vulnerable people in our society.
“The country cannot afford to miss this opportunity for reform and Age UK would be delighted to host cross party talks if that's what it will take to deliver sustainable change for older people.”
To secure the future of social care, Age UK is calling for the Government to publish a White Paper by Easter 2012 at the latest, including details of how the new system will be funded, and to commit to include legislation on the issue in the subsequent Queen's Speech.