08/03/2017 07:15 GMT | Updated 09/03/2018 05:12 GMT

It's Now Or Never For Social Care

Social care is on the edge of a financial cliff, with years of cuts and under investment impacting on the stability of the sector and calling its long-term sustainability into question.

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Social care is on the edge of a financial cliff, with years of cuts and under investment impacting on the stability of the sector and calling its long-term sustainability into question.

Which is why, ahead of the upcoming Spring Budget, we're calling on the Government to take action by immediately delivering the substantial cash injection, of at least £1 billion, needed to prevent the collapse of the adult social care sector.

In the short term, this action will not only bring some much needed stability to the sector, but more importantly, will offer some relief to the thousands of people across the country currently worried that the future of the vital social care services they rely on are in jeopardy.

The financial woes the sector is facing can no longer be ignored and the Government must take action before it's too late, with a short-term solution that reflects the monumental scale of the sector's crisis, alongside a long-term strategy to ensure its sustainability. This needs to focus on the reform of services and placing greater emphasis on personalised care, independence and community engagement.

Why the government must provide more money now...

As repeated budget cuts have taken their toll and councils have been forced to ration essential services, there has been a rapid increase in the number of people in the UK living with unmet care and support needs.

Since 2010, on paper a total of £4.6 billion has been cut from council social care budgets. In reality, this has meant that service provision has been cut, often drastically, and that thousands of older and disabled people who rely on services to enable them to live as active members of their community, have seen their social care support restricted or withdrawn.

Overall, there has been a reported 26% reduction in the number of people receiving any form of social care since 2010; and in the last year alone, there has been an 11.4% drop in the number of people receiving sensory support services.

Sense has calculated that, in England, there are more than 108,000 learning disabled adults with care needs who receive no support whatsoever.

This simply isn't good enough.

The Government must act now, before it's too late, by providing the immediate, emergency funding settlement of at least £1 billion in the Spring Budget that the crumbling social care sector desperately needs in order to survive.

What about the long-term..?

Although the pressing financial issues faced by the social care sector must be addressed with an immediate and substantial cash injection; ultimately, this only presents a short-term solution, with £1 billion of emergency funding only predicted to offer the sector stabilisation for one year.

A one off payment is not enough, no matter how much it is, and a long-term solution, focused on the sustainability of the sector, must be delivered alongside short-term financial plugs.

As the population increases and ages, demand for social care services will continue to grow, whilst the cost of providing care will also become greater as inflation pushes up prices.

What we need, after an immediate cash injection, is a strategy and long-term agreement on how we, as a society, fund social care, and what care options should be available for people.

What form this agreement takes is up for debate, but what is clear, is that there is room for reform, increased efficiency and greater personalisation in the social care sector.

Why is social care important..?

At Sense we believe that social care is about enabling people to participate in society and their communities to the fullest possible extent.

Social care should empower and enable disabled people to use community resources and access opportunities just like anybody else.

It can also be a vital lifeline for disabled people with complex needs and their families. Social care provides people support with personal care needs, the preparation of meals, support with medication and respite for family members.

Social care has also been shown to keep people healthier at home, in their communities for longer and to prevent avoidable admissions hospital.

Social care is an essential element in allowing many people to live with dignity and independently, which is why the system's collapse would be disastrous for the disabled people we work with who rely on these services in their day-to-day lives.

The sector has long been waiting with bated breath for a Government solution but with the system currently at the real risk of total collapse, it is now imperative that serious and urgent action is taken.

If it wishes to avert disaster, the Government must recognise in this Spring Budget that it is now or never for social care, by resolving the critical issues the sector is facing and finally delivering the funds and long-term sustainability plan it urgently requires.