The situation faced by adults across the UK needing care is dire. Costs can run into the tens of thousands – and one in 10 face fees of over £100,000.
In 2011, Lord Dilnot made recommendations that a cap on care of £86,000 be introduced to stop spiralling costs throwing pensioners into poverty.
In September of this year, the Prime Minister finally announced the introduction of a cap on care - paid for by a Health and Social Care Levy, funded by a hike in national insurance contributions.
However, the government have just released the fine print on the cap on care and as always the devil is in the detail.
In line with Lord Dilnot’s recommendations, it was expected the cap on care would be a combination of all costs towards care including means-tested council funding. Instead, the cap is entirely based on private contributions to care.
This means tens of thousands of poorer adults will pay the same for their care as the wealthy and asset rich. And still face the prospect of having to sell their home to do so.
And low paid workers are footing the bill. This includes the seven out of 10 care workers who are paid less than £10/hour.
Instead of fixing care, the new cap is diverting money away from those who need it most.
We’ve been clear that there should no new deal for social care without a new deal for the workforce.
Low pay and insecure work are rife in the sector, contributing to a turnover rate of 30.4% and a vacancy rate of over 112,000.
Unions and care providers have warned the staffing crisis could worsen this winter following the introduction of a mandatory vaccination policy.
Raising the pay of care workers to at least £10 per hour could transform the lives of care workers and help stop the exodus of staff from the sector.
TUC analysis showed there would only be a £227 million net cost to the Treasury of raising pay to £10 an hour and the government could have invested some of the £36 billion it will raise in revenue from the new health and social care levy to pay for it.
Instead, it is investing just 15 percent - £5.4 billion - on social care with the rest going to the NHS. Instead of directing this money to fixing the structural issues faced by the sector, it has been earmarked to fund the new cap on care.
Poorest areas worst off
The remainder isn’t nearly enough to meet rising demand – the Health Foundation estimates that meeting rising demand by the end of the decade would cost £6 billion – or to tackle the crisis in unmet care need.
Before the pandemic, an estimated 1.5 million elderly people are believed to have unmet care needs. That figure is believed to have risen sharply since the crisis began.
But local authority spending on social care has fallen by £600 million since 2010 as a result of government cuts to local authority budgets.
Councils in some of the most deprived areas of England have been particularly hard hit, with unmet care need is twice as high in these areas than in the least deprived areas.
What people living in these areas need is high-quality work and high-quality care. The answer to that lies in a properly funded social care system that provides decent work, on secure contracts with fair pay and protects the homes of the poorest pensioners.
The government has so far, failed to deliver that.
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