Social care  

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for action on social care

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for action on social care
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (Image credit: Jacqui J. Sze)

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has urged the country to “rise to the challenge” to fix the social care system.

In his New Year message on January 1, the Archbishop began by paying respect to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“I met many people from all over the world who queued to pay their respects,” he said. “People looked out for each other day and night.”

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However, he said it was one thing to queue for a few hours, but it is “another when we need to give or receive care day after day”. 

“Then we all need help,” he said.

Like many, Welby said he rejoiced that elderly relatives like his mother are still around. 

“Their memories, their presence, their independence, are precious,” he said. “Caring for them, loving them, is a privilege after what we have received from them.”

Welby said: “We know our care system is broken: but it doesn’t have to be. We can rise to the challenge of fixing it. That means action from all of us; you, me, families, communities and government.”

For his new year message, the Archbishop visited MHA Bradbury Grange which is a residential care home in Whitstable.

“Like many coastal areas it has a high proportion of elderly people. People here – like everywhere– are dealing with rising costs," he said.

“Care homes are struggling too. Bills have risen; hiring and keeping staff is a challenge.”

Welby questioned why someone may work as a carer when they might get paid more in less demanding jobs.

“Caring’s not easy. Good carers are wonderful people to be valued,” he said. 

Commenting on his speech, Dr Anna Dixon, chair of the Archbishops’ Commission said: “I am delighted that Archbishop Justin has used his new year message to emphasise the need for action on social care.

“Our report will seek to address some of the long-standing challenges affecting social care and set out a hopeful vision of what care and support could and should be like.”

Dixon added: “We cannot simply tinker around the edges of the existing social care system. We need a new settlement that gives choice and control to people who draw on care and support, equips and empowers communities, and offers far greater support and recognition to unpaid carers.”

In the chancellor's Autumn Statement in November, government plans to limit how much an individual in England will pay for their own social care was delayed by two years.

The reforms were first outlined in September 2021 by then-prime minister Boris Johnson, and were due to come into effect in October 2023.

The cap will ensure that nobody pays more than £86,000 for social care in their lifetime. There will be a floor of £100,000 in assets.

This means the government will step in to pay an individual’s social care bill beyond this cap but in the statement, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the cap will now come into effect in 2025.