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Why social care reform will not help disabled working age adults

Angela Matthews, Head of Policy - Business Disability Forum

Responding to Government plans to reform social care funding (7 September), Angela Matthews, Head of Policy at Business Disability Forum, said:

“It is disappointing that the Prime Minister has opened the plan with an ‘ode’ to the NHS which is accompanied by a noticeable silence on a matched love for the UK’s social care system. While the NHS undoubtedly needs attention, it must not be to the detriment of proper funding for social care.

“Disabled people have repeatedly been let down by an inadequate social care system long before the pandemic. The problems with the NHS and the social care system are different and are a consequence of different factors. As an example, the already struggling NHS needs to get through its huge backlog, whilst social care has been repeatedly neglected since long before the pandemic.

“This situation was made worse during the pandemic when local authorities were given permission to suspend social care. Employers called our Advice Service asking what they should do when disabled staff could not work because they had their social care withdrawn.

“The plan says the Government is committed to “creating a sustainable adult social care system” but the paper does not explain how the Government will do that, or when. This paper is a small first step toward what needs to be done, but it does not offer confidence that this Government understands the magnitude or the urgency of reforming the social care system so that it works for everyone who needs to rely on it to live their lives.

“The message is clear: almost everyone in every financial situation will need to contribute something from their “income”. For disabled people experiencing a minimally moving disability employment gap and typically earning less than their non-disabled peers or who are in ‘entry’ level roles, there appears to be little relief from these announcements. Whilst it is absolutely clear that older people’s social care needs reform, once again, working age disabled people have been forgotten. None of the case studies used in the paper are from the perspective of a working age disabled person.

“Financing health and social care is the topic of these announcements, which in themselves do not go far enough. But what we are still waiting for is an overhaul of the system – it’s structure, fair and compassionate delivery, sustainability of its workforce – which is territory the Government, even after these announcements, has steered clear from tackling.

“We urge the Government to the take the opportunity presented by the forthcoming Spending Review to make sure that the urgent need for social care funding and reform is properly addressed.”

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