The upcoming Autumn Statement could be make or break for adult social care.
After years of austerity cuts to local government – social care funding is in crisis, and we have already seen the impact upon how we care for our societies most vulnerable.
Beds in hospitals are occupied for weeks, sometimes even months, by people who are well enough to leave – but cannot because there is no social care plan in place for them.
One in ten care homes have closed since the Conservatives came to power, and one in four residential care homes and four in 10 nursing homes are now rated as requiring improvement or inadequate.
Some home care workers have had to reduce their visits from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. That could be 15 minutes to make somebody dinner, bathe them, give them medication, change their bed sheets and any other help they might need.
In fact, the Care Quality Commission has said that ‘adult social care is reaching a tipping point’ and identified a variation in quality across the country.
And this is a time where consistent effective and well-resourced social care is needed more than ever.
Over half of all people aged over 75 old live alone.
Half of all older people who have difficulty bathing or getting dressed are receiving no support.
A third of all older people who have difficulty going to the toilet on their own are receiving no support.
And there are an estimated 1.1 million older people in this country who are chronically lonely.
The government must ensure at the earliest opportunity that adult social care is put on a sustainable financial footing. And they can start next week, at the autumn statement.
Good social care is far less costly than a hospital stay, but with social care in crisis it is the NHS who is left to pick up the pieces.
Councils have already had to close a £5bn funding gap within adult social care since 2010 and the funding gap is estimated to be as much as up to a further £6bn by 2020/2021.
Indeed in the first six months of the current financial year, councils have projected a £500m overspend of their adult social care budgets.
The government has introduced the Better Care Fund and the Adult Social Care precept to try and meet these demands – but they do not go far enough and care providers continue to struggle.
And right now, nine out of 10 councils are failing to pay realistic prices to homecare providers. And almost five months after the decision to leave the European Union, the government have given no assurances about the future of the many EU migrants who work in the sector who care for so many of our loved ones.
Many care homes, home care agencies and other adult social care services provide good quality care. But with others struggling, and an eye-watering projected funding gap there are questions over the sustainability of quality care.
Properly funded social care is a vital part of our society, but it is steering a dangerous path. This is why we called an opposition day debate in Parliament yesterday to urge the Chancellor to provide local authorities with the funding they need and commit to securing the care of our societies most vulnerable. If the government fails to act swiftly and decisively, it will be our elderly, our disabled and our most vulnerable who will suffer.
Teresa Pearce is shadow secretary of state for communities and local government.