Reform of the social care sector could get forgotten once the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is over, a representative body for independent care providers has said, as he urged people to press local councillors on the matter.
Speaking at the virtual conference ‘Preparing for a New Normal in Social Care’ this week (April 12), Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, expressed concerns about what will happen to the social care sector post-Covid and urged people to quiz their local council candidates on how they intend to tackle the issue ahead of elections in May.
Padgham urged the government to announce full plans for social care reform in the Queen’s Speech on May 11 and then fund change in the next spending review.
He called for total reform of the sector, better funding and a higher standing for social care workers.
Padgham said: “Social care has given 100 per cent this past year and deserves the recognition it has been promised for a generation. But it remains a battle to get social care reform on the agenda.”
He said the local elections on May 6 would be an opportunity to press would-be councillors on how they intend to reform the sector.
Padgham added: “If we do not get action now, we might well have to stand for election on a social care platform ourselves sometime soon.
“The falling death rate in care and nursing homes is wonderful and a real sign that we are getting on top of this pandemic once and for all.
“In the short term however, we have to remain vigilant to avoid a resurgence and a third wave.
“And in the longer term we have to be sure that the profile social care currently has and the momentum we have gathered for change is not lost as we return to normal. It is up to all of us to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
In his first speech as prime minister, Boris Johnson promised to tackle the social care issue "once and for all", and last year went on to say the government was "finalising" plans to end the "injustice" of some people having to sell their homes to finance care.
Despite this, social care funding was once again absent in this year’s budget.
Just Group’s latest annual care report found only 34 per cent of Conservative voters thought the prime minister would be able to put a social care policy into practice in this parliament.
Reform of social care, particularly the funding of it, has been a long running issue with the government, which was meant to publish a green paper in summer 2018 but has so far failed to do so.
Meanwhile the industry has come up with a number of suggestions including a Care Isa and Care pension but so far nothing seems to have been picked up by government.
The government had previously intended to introduce a cap on care fees but this was scrapped in 2017.