DENISE JEFFERY: Long-awaited plan for health and social care

Adult social care matters. It plays a crucial role across our communities.

By Denise Jeffery, leader of Wakefield Council
Thursday, 16th September 2021, 12:30 pm
NEW TAX: Health and social care levy from April 2022. Photo: Getty Images
NEW TAX: Health and social care levy from April 2022. Photo: Getty Images

Adult social care ensures that our family members, friends, and neighbours, receive the services needed to help improve the quality of lives.

Councils the length and breadth of the country have been crying out for the government to come forward with a long-term solution to what is widely described as an adult social care crisis.

The social care system has been stretched to breaking point by years of underfunding and growing demand linked to an ageing population.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

And since the introduction of the additional social care precept on council tax in 2016, we have been forced to ask council tax payers to help support a struggling system that should have been properly funded many years ago.

The government’s long-awaited plan for health and social care has finally come in the form of a new tax on pay, from April 2022.

I want to be clear that we welcome any new investment and funding into both health and social care to provide vital support for our residents and their families, however, the funding system needs to be fair.

What we have is an NHS backlog clearing plan, and whilst no one can deny that this is absolutely needed, it was not – as branded - a long-term plan to fix social care.

I’m concerned that social care will receive only a small proportion of the money in the first three years – while the needs of local people continue to rise.

We need a long-term solution that works for the benefit of everyone in our district, based on the principle of social care being free at the point of need and accessible to all.

The care workforce in our district does fantastic work, but on low wages and sometimes poor working conditions.

It is essential that professional carers are given the time, resources and skills needed to carry out their role and are properly paid.

The system needs to recognise the important role and personal and financial implications of unpaid carers, ensuring they can access services and support to help deliver care.

It’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating that the government’s plan will not deliver the change that is needed.

We must also not forget that the national insurance rise will also impact on many working families across our district who are set to lose the £20 weekly universal credit upgrade when the government removes that at the end of September.

Taken together, this will mean around 12,000 working people claiming universal credit will be losing an estimated £1290 per year as of next year.

This makes it even more vital for the government to reverse the planned £20 cut.

We need a social care system that is fit for purpose and properly funded, that meets the needs of the most vulnerable, and puts care at the centre of society.

I can assure residents that I and my Labour colleagues on the Council will continue to put the case forward for a fair and equitable system that benefits everyone.