Growing funding gap in social care causing ‘unacceptable variation’ in services, Labour

There is a “growing funding gap” in social care which must be filled, Labour has warned.

Shadow minister for Mental Health and Social Care Barbara Keeley told MPs it was plain to see the strain social care was under from the weight of growing demand, reducing supply and the lack of funds from Government.

Speaking at the start of a Commons Opposition Day debate on the issue, she said: “It has been six months since this House called on the Government to commit the extra funding needed to ease the crisis currently affecting social care.

“Six months of missed opportunities for this Government to bring more stability to our fragile social care system. Six months in which the situation has deteriorated further.”

The Government she said had eights years to “do better” on social care, but since 2010 things were “manifestly worse”.

There was, she argued, an “unacceptable variation” in the quality of services, with poor quality care having a serious impact on those in need.

She added: “It means people not being washed, or going hours without receiving a meal or being given a drink, it means people left without help to go to the toilet and in some cases it means people not being given crucial medication.

“We have seen warnings from the Competition and Markets Authority that care homes would find themselves having to close or move away from local authority funded care because the funding is now only just covering day to day running costs.

“It’s quite clear from all of this that there is a growing funding gap in social care which must be filled.

“The Local Government Association has said that our social care system needs an immediate injection of £1.3 billion to fill the gap and that’s projected to rise to £2.5 billion by 2020 according to the King’s Fund.

“But since then we have seen the system begin to crack still further from under the pressure of Government funding cuts.”

Ms Keeley also warned of a trend of care home closures and contract cancellations.

Delayed transfers of care hit “record highs” she said, adding people were often ejected from hospital before being ready, creating a vicious cycle of admission and readmission.

Care Minister Caroline Dinenage hit back telling MPs “Labour’s recession” had a real impact on the social care system – which had been brought “to its knees”.

Ms Dinenage said: “It simply isn’t true that this Government is failing to deal with or acknowledge this crisis.

“I can honestly say with my hand on my heart their party does not have a monopoly on care or kindness.

“Local authorities will receive a real terms above inflation increase in their funding profile, we have announced significant dedicated funding for social care.”

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