The Budget 2021: Our response
Our campaigns manager reflects on the impact of today’s budget with regard to spinal cord injured people
Eye catching headlines such as the lifting of the public sector pay freeze, and accepting the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to increase the UK’s national living wage, are of course welcome. So too is the almost £6bn being pumped into the NHS to reduce the record waiting lists and improve diagnostic services; there are now approximately 5.7 million people waiting for hospital treatment. As with all Budgets, the devil may be later found to be lurking in the detail. However, the glaring omission in this Budget is the lack of any sort of plan to deal with the current crisis being experienced in Adult Social Care.
The idea that spinal cord injured (SCI) people will share Mr Sunak’s belief that we are entering some sort of “age of optimism” is laughable when so much still needs to be done to ensure every SCI person and their families has the support they need
The idea that spinal cord injured (SCI) people will share Mr Sunak’s belief that we are entering some sort of “age of optimism” is laughable when so much still needs to be done to ensure every SCI person and their families has the support they need. SIA’s Support Line (0800 980 0501) continues to receive desperate calls every day from SCI people who’ve been informed by their care agency that their care support is having to be withdrawn (sometimes with minimal notice) due to staff shortages. The crisis in the Adult Social Care sector is real, it’s having a huge impact on SCI people and their families, and it’s happening right now – and yet the lack of direction and funding is staggering.
The announcement in September of a manifesto-busting £12bn-a-year package of tax increases from April 2022 to tackle NHS Covid backlogs and overhaul Adult Social Care was supposed to be the solution – until it became clear that Adult Social Care would only receive approximately £5.3bn over the next three years. This is far short of the amounts needed to solve the crisis, and money is only part of the issue – the lack of the thousands of suitably trained and qualified staff is a far more immediate concern. Social care is talked of as a priority, but the amounts being invested show it’s still the very poor relation compared to healthcare and the NHS.
SIA is arguing for a new and distinct immigration route so that individual SCI people can continue to have the hard-won option of directly employing their health and social care workers from abroad
SIA fully endorses the call by the Association of Directors of Adults Social Services (ADASS) for the Chancellor to stabilise care and support this winter, lay the foundations for reform of Adult Social Care and then deliver its sustainable transformation and evolution by:
- Providing an immediate additional £3bn to support care supply and strengthen support at home, meet unmet needs and mitigate the workforce crisis in the care sector. Half of this funding should go to unpaid carers.
- Implementing a new employment deal for care staff, including a workforce strategy, enhanced training, development and career progression and an adult social care minimum wage level with comparable NHS roles at a rate of approximately £11.50 an hour.
- Guaranteeing a significant uplift in funding for local councils to enable them to meet fully their duties under the Care Act and the Health and Social Care Bill. Since 2010, councils have been required to make cumulative savings of more than £8bn.
In addition, SIA is arguing for a new and distinct immigration route so that individual SCI people can continue to have the hard-won option of directly employing their health and social care workers from abroad. This is badly needed, as vacancies for these essential jobs are hard to fill because of the unique nature of the employment, including the frequent need for carers to live in the home of the SCI person.
Comprehensive reform of the care sector, including more funding for care workers, is desperately needed, but until that it is done disabled people should not pay the price by having an increasingly difficult (and sometimes impossible) job to find the care they need to live dignified and fulfilled lives. Sadly, this Budget, like the policy announcement in September, doesn’t address this – and until it does, the crisis with care support for SCI people will continue.