As the two Conservative leadership candidates reach the home straight before the decisive vote on Monday (22nd July), they have been facing pressure across the UK to tackle the social care crisis in England if they become Prime Minister.
Social care is unquestionably in crisis; however, it is seldom top of the political agenda thanks to the ongoing Brexit saga. That said, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have both pledged to make social care a priority if they get the top job. Here, we look at the social care crisis, and the policy positions of the candidates.
A number of worrying reports and publicity throughout 2019 have added to the damning picture of the social care system in the UK:
- January 2019 – Shocking data released by the NHS earlier revealed that 32,115 sick and vulnerable adults died while awaiting social care in 2017/18. This equates to nearly 90 people a day dying before they could get the care they needed.
- June 2019 – BBC Panorama’s shocking ‘Crisis in Care’ programme followed various families with unpaid carers in desperate need of support and also looked at the plight of social workers, who are often forced to make potentially life-or-death choices.
- July 2019 – Research from Anchor Hanover revealed that 68% of people do not trust government to deliver on social care reform.
- July 2019 – Analysis from the Alzheimer’s Society, revealed that dementia sufferers needing care have spent almost £15billion on bills while waiting for the government to reform the struggling system.
Calls to action
Such issues have caused charities, peers and care residents alike to call on the two Tory leadership candidates for action:
- The Lords Economic Affairs Committees has called for an immediate £7bn cash increase and a move to a free NHS-based system. While individuals would still have to pay for their accommodation, there would be no costs for non-medical care.
- George McNamara, Director of Policy at Independent Age, commented in June: “The government seems content to allow vital care and support for the most vulnerable older people to be rationed or cut…their continuous dithering and delays are increasing older people’s hardship, impacting on their health and, in some cases, costing lives.”
- In July, more than 200 older people living in care homes made a personal appeal to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to make social care ‘free at the point of delivery’ and said that whoever becomes PM must publish the social care green paper within his first 100 days in office.
The leadership candidates
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said everyone deserved “security and dignity in their old age” and will ensure no-one is evicted from their home to pay for care. Meanwhile, former Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt has pledged more council funding and an opt-out insurance system for people to save for future care. He has committed to using a boost in the economy to invest heavily in “social care and defence”, and said that 10-year plan is needed to put the system on a sustainable financial footing.
What happens now?
Here at Unique Senior Care, we are hopeful that the new Prime Minister will deliver on their promised commitment to social care. There is undoubtedly mounting pressure on the government to act – in May, the government was slammed for failing to publish details of care system reforms for adults with disabilities and the elderly for the sixth time.
While both Tory leadership candidates had made the issue a priority, it remains to be seen whether they will succeed where previous governments have failed. But without intervention, the social care crisis will continue to worsen – now is the time to act.