It is widely agreed that social care is in crisis, caused by insufficient funding in the face of growing demand. Over recent months, Tory Ministers have ignored repeated warnings from leaders and professionals in the health and care sectors about the impact of the £4.6 billion of cuts which have been made to Adult Social Care budgets since 2010.
This week, the Local Government Association warned that the continued underfunding of social care is making it impossible for local authorities to fulfil their legal duties under the Care Act. They said this could leave social care on the brink of failing altogether and that councils could face the prospect of court challenges.
The Care Act aimed to ensure that people with eligible needs have a range of provision of high quality, appropriate services to choose from. Given this, we should not tolerate the fact that growing levels of basic needs are going unmet, that care visits get ever shorter and there is increased strain on unpaid family carers.
As the Local Government Association was issuing this stark warning the Care Minister was telling MPs that families can no longer rely on the state to support them in old age. The Minister mused that parents have as much of a responsibility to care for their elderly mothers and fathers as they do for their own children.
He ignored the fact that family carers already provide the vast majority of care in the UK. The majority of family carers are also of working age. Carers UK tell us that one in nine of the workforce, three million people, are now combining working and unpaid caring. Working carers need the right social care support to make this work.
The Care Minister also ignored the fact that there are already 1 million people in the UK aged over 65 who do not have adult children. This potential family "care gap" was reported back in 2014, a fact he should have known.
As the organisation Ageing Without Children points out "The idea that older people may not have family members who are able to help, or may have no family at all seems not to have occurred to the government"
It is unacceptable that Tory Ministers ignore warnings from councils about the bleak state of social care while they lecture families about the caring role that many are already carrying.
It is time that Ministers were briefed on the facts about caring. And, instead of abandoning state provision of social care, the Government must bring forward genuinely new funding to protect the vital care and the support that our 6.5 million family carers, and the people they care for, need.