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Ten wasted years

Published on 08 July 2021 11:05 AM

10 wasted years after the Dilnot Commission report, more than 4 in 5 of us want the PM to fulfil his pledge to “fix social care, once and for all” 

 Care workforce vacancies up a massive 82 % since 2012/13

 76 charities call on the public to show their MPs how much they care

An opinion poll carried out by YouGov for the 76 charities who campaign together as the Care and Support Alliance, has found that more than 4 in 5 (83%) want the Prime Minister to fulfil his pledge to “fix social care, once and for all”. [i]

This new finding is being published during the week which marks the tenth anniversary since publication of the Dilnot Commission’s report. The report was ordered by the coalition government, led by David Cameron, in 2010. Andrew Dilnot and his team were tasked with recommending changes to the funding of care and support in England, to deal especially with the problem of ‘catastrophic cost’. They published their recommendations on 4 July 2011, but today social care remains chronically underfunded, with most local councils struggling to meet the care needs of their communities[ii].

The charities say we’ve wasted a decade which could have been spent bringing in a fair and effective system of care in this country. During this time our social care system has stagnated, while those in many other countries have been modernised and strengthened.  

To tell the story of this ‘lost decade’ for social care the charities draw attention to the following statistics. Compared to ten years ago:   

  • Demand for care has increased because there are now 1.7 million more older people[iii], and 857,000 more adults with disabilities[iv]
  • Since 2012/13 the earliest year for which comparable data are available care workforce vacancies have shot up by 82 % - 45,000 additional empty posts now[v].
  • In the last ten years we have had 6 Ministers for Social Care and 4 Secretaries of State for Health (and Social Care); and there have been 8 House of Commons Health and Care Select Committee enquiries into social care. 
  • Politicians have repeatedly promised to act but failed to follow through: in the 3 General Elections during the decade, the 3 major political parties have made 9 manifesto promises to reform and refinance social care between them.
  • While politicians have sat on their hands when it comes to reform they have allowed the financial burden on individuals and their families of needing care to increase markedly. The Government has frozen the capital thresholds which determine if you are eligible for help with your care bills – a stealth cut. If the means test threshold had kept up with inflation since 2010/11 it would be nearly £6000 (£5995) higher than it now - effectively a cut of 20% [vi].
  • Meanwhile, the average cost of a care home place has risen by 34% to £672 per week, and this sum greatly understates what you actually need to pay for a care home in many parts of the country, especially London and the South East.[vii] 

After he won the General Election in 2019 Boris Johnston made a speech on the steps of 10 Downing Street, during which he made his historic promise to “fix social care once and for all”. Sadly, there has been very little to show for it since then. The pandemic has understandably preoccupied a great deal of Government attention but the charities say the huge numbers (42,000) of deaths in care homes[viii] as a result of COVID-19 makes it more important than ever for the Prime Minister to follow through on his pledge this year.  

The 76 charities are now calling on the public to contact their MPs, to galvanise support for care refinancing and reform right across Parliament.  

Caroline Abrahams, co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance and Charity Director of Age UK, said:  

“It’s extremely encouraging that more than 4 in 5 of the public want the Prime Minister to fulfil his pledge to “fix social care, once and for all”. As charities who work with older and disabled people, and their unpaid carers, we know what a fantastic difference this would make to their lives.  

“This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Dilnot Commission’s report and it’s galling to think what a wasted decade this has been for social care here, when so many other countries have put their social care provision on a firm financial basis and brought it up to date. In many respects social care has got worse here over these ten years and the huge rise in staff vacancies is a big part of the reason why, since it is impossible to deliver consistently decent, reliable care if there aren’t enough care workers to do the job.” 

“Now we are starting to emerge from the pandemic, which has taken such a toll in social care, it’s time for the Prime Minister to stand by his word and for politicians in all parties to demonstrate leadership on an issue which should be above politics. That’s why we are calling on the public to contact their MPs, to ask them to ensure there’s real action on social care this year, not just the warm words and excuses we’re all fed up of hearing.” 

“The Government has made it clear it sees funding reform, along the lines Sir Andrew Dilnot has recommended, as the centrepiece of its plans. However, funding reform on its own will not be enough for the Prime Minister’s promise to be fulfilled. We also need an injection of funding into councils’ budgets, so they are better placed to meet the care needs of their local communities, and action to strengthen and professionalise the social care workforce.  Our care workers have performed valiantly throughout the pandemic and now they deserve their reward.” 

The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) is a coalition of some of the country’s leading national charities with an interest in social care. The aim of the alliance is that everyone who needs it should be to receive enough, high quality care. The CSA is co-chaired by Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director at Age UK; Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK; and Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of Communication, Advocacy and Activism, Mencap.

Notes to Editors

The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) is a coalition of some of the country’s leading national charities with an interest in social care. The aim of the alliance is that everyone who needs it should be to receive enough, high quality care. The CSA is co-chaired by Caroline Abrahams CBE, Charity Director at Age UK; Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Carers UK; and Jackie O’Sullivan, Director of Communication, Advocacy and Activism, Mencap.

[i] From YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,880 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 27th June 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[ii] ADASS Activity Survey 2021 https://www.adass.org.uk/adass-activity-survey-2021

[iii] ONS estimates of the age 65+ population of England for mid year 2011 and mid year 2020, the most recent year for which data are available. Accessed https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/bulletins/annualmidyearpopulationestimates/mid2019estimates and https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland

[iv] Age UK analysis of data drawn from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. Data were collected 2009-11 (wave 1) and 2018-2020 (wave 10) and accessed here: http://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-6614-14. Estimates of the proportion of people aged 18+ in England with a disability were scaled up to the age 18+ population of England using ONS mid-year population estimates for 2011 and 2020.

[v] Skills for Care – Adult Social Care Workforce Estimates 2019/20 - https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/publications/Workforce-estimates.aspx

[vi] Kings Fund – Social Care 360. Accessed here: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-care-360/access

[vii] Laing & Buisson. Care Homes for Older People. 30th Edition.

[viii] ONS, Deaths involving Covid-19 in the care sector, England and Wales. Accessed here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/deathsinvolvingcovid19inthecaresectorenglandandwales/deathsregisteredbetweenweekending20march2020andweekending2april2021

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Last updated: Jul 08 2021

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