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Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care) 4:14 pm, 25th February 2020

I beg to move,

That this House
notes that almost ten years of Government cuts to council budgets have resulted in a social care funding crisis which means 1.5 million older people have unmet social care needs;
further notes the increasing funding gap for adult social care;
believes proposals from the Government for access to additional funding for both adult and children’s social care will do nothing to ease the crisis or address the funding gap;
and calls on the Government to bring forward as a matter of urgency plans to reform social care including plans for free personal care.

It is right that we have a chance to debate social care today: it is two weeks ahead of the Budget and there is the ever present hope that the Government will announce much-needed social care reform. This reform is long overdue. After nearly a decade of cuts, our social care system is on its knees. For the people who rely on social care and for their families, the reality is that things have got much worse under successive Conservative Governments. Every day last year, 2,000 older people who had approached their local authority for help with social care were turned down. The result is that there are currently 1.5 million older people who are not getting the support they need—each one struggling to cope with basic everyday tasks. This can mean people left trapped in bed all day or going unwashed all week, because family carers can visit them only on the weekends, and those are the people who are fortunate enough to have help from unpaid carers. Around half the 1.5 million get no help at all—not even from family and friends. They cope as best they can until they end up in hospital, and then they cannot get out of hospital because they can only be discharged safely once a social care package is set up, with the local authorities struggling to find the funding for it.

Another failure in our social care system is where people are held in entirely inappropriate institutions because the local authority cannot fund the care they need to keep them safe in the community. There are 2,200 autistic people and people with learning disabilities who continue to be detained on in-patient wards. This is one of the most egregious failures of our social care system. They should be able to live in their own homes with a support package, but the funding is not there. For eight years the Government have been promising to end this scandal, but they have failed to do so.