Open letter to our new Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak from the National Care Forum, the membership body for not-for-profit care and support providers.
27 October 2022
Dear Mr Sunak,
Congratulations on your appointment as Prime Minister. We look forward to working with you and your new team to secure the essential financial investment that you had originally planned for the social care sector when in your role as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Funding: As Chancellor you demonstrated an understanding of the funding crisis gripping the adult social care sector and the critical need for sustainable funding by introducing the National Insurance Levy to raise £39bn funding for both social care and health over the next three years. While this has now been scrapped, we are all relying on you to cement adult social care as one of the priority areas for government.
In your first address as PM, you said you would honour the 2019 Conservative Manifesto commitments. These included commitments to extra funding for adult social care to ensure more social care staff, better infrastructure, technology and facilities as well as a commitment to reform and finding a solution to catastrophic care costs. The People at the Heart of Care white paper developed these commitments further and laid out a plan to deliver them.
As Prime Minister, the care and support sector is looking to you to honour these commitments and the work that has already been carried out by bringing forward the essential investment that is needed.
We are therefore deeply concerned about the Chancellor’s statement last week that “all departments will need to redouble their efforts to find savings and some areas of spending will need to be cut.”
Public spending cuts to adult social care would be disastrous, especially given current pressure on the NHS and the looming winter pressures. Equally, failing to increase public spending on adult social care in line with rising costs and ignoring the urgent need to inject funding into the workforce should be unthinkable. We urge you to honour the commitments contained within your manifesto and the People at the Heart of Care white paper.
Workforce pressures: Numerous reports recently have highlighted the huge workforce pressures facing social care. The most recent data from Skills for Care on the state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England has revealed that there are now 165,000 vacancies in the sector and, more significantly, a decrease in the workforce of around 3% (50,000 people) from the previous year. Demand for services is growing at the same time. According to Carers UK there are 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK and a recent survey carried out by ADASS found that over half a million people in England were waiting for care assessments, reviews and/or care and support to begin. The recent CQC State of Care report describes the health and care system as gridlocked, with workforce shortages and pressures at the root of the problems.
Given the very significant impact these pressures are having across the whole health and care system, and the very real direct impact on people who rely on these services for themselves or their families, it is clear that we need a long-term, sustainable workforce strategy which includes pay progression on par with the NHS, professional development, training, and career pathways alongside immediate investment to improve pay, terms and conditions.
At this pivotal time in our nation, we ask you to:
- In the absence of the Health and Care Levy, make good on your convictions and guarantee additional funding for adult social care in line with the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s recommendations
- Honour the 2019 Conservative Manifesto and commit to the reform of adult social care as outlined in People at the Heart of Care white paper, and provide the funding to fully realise this to ensure people are able to access high quality services when they need them.
- Bring forward a fully funded, workforce plan, with pay progression in line with the NHS, making provision for better terms and conditions, training and career structures.
- Guarantee that adult social care providers are defined as a vulnerable sector as part of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme following April 2023.
- Guarantee that those people accessing adult social care support will still be able to access a version of the Energy Price Guarantee following April 2023.
Good quality and well-resourced social care is good for growth – it is preventative in nature, allowing people to retain their independence for longer, doing the things they want to do, living in and contributing to their communities and working if they wish. Poor health and wellbeing are a leading reason for economic inactivity and low productivity in our society. Public spending cuts for adult social care are inconceivable as they will damage one of the key drivers of not only economic growth but also wider societal cohesion and wellbeing.
Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO National Care Forum