TUC urge Government to fix ‘badly underfunded and broken’ social care system

The Government is being urged to invest in the “badly underfunded” social care system after new research suggested annual spending was hundreds of millions of pounds lower than a decade ago.

The TUC said its analysis found that in 112 of the 150 responsible local authorities in England, social care spending per head of the population is still below 2010.

Spending per head is 8% below the level in 2010 for England overall, while regional reductions range from 18% in London, to 5% in the South East, East Midlands and East of England, said the report.

The union organisation said this year’s spending review should fully offset the cuts of the previous decade and establish future rises at a level that will allow local authorities to meet rising demand and improve pay and conditions for staff.

The TUC also called for funding to fill social care vacancies.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “When the country needed them, social care workers stepped up. Care workers looked after older and disabled people in the midst of a pandemic, often without the right PPE, and often for low wages and no sick pay.

“Now it’s time to fix the broken system. Social care is badly underfunded. Pay and conditions for care workers are dreadful, and families can’t be sure of high-quality, affordable care when a family member needs it.

“As we face mass unemployment, ministers should act to unlock the 120,000 existing social care vacancies right now, and they should put investment in social care at the heart of our national recovery plan.

“Social care jobs should be decent jobs on fair pay, at the heart of every community.

“Ministers can’t spend another decade hiding from the social care crisis.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Chronic underfunding of the care sector has been a huge problem for many years. It shouldn’t have taken a devastating pandemic for politicians to realise this.

“This TUC analysis shows clearly how spending cuts are having a severe effect in many parts of the UK. That means lower quality services for the vulnerable and poverty wages for hard-working care workers.

“After repeated failure by successive governments to get a grip of reforming the sector, we can’t wait any longer.”

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges facing the social care sector and we are doing everything we can to support it.

“We are providing councils with access to an additional £1.5 billion for adult and children’s social care this year on top of maintaining £2.5 billion of existing social care grants, and we will support local authorities to meet rising demand and continue to stabilise the social care system.

“In addition we have made £3.7 billion available to councils in England so they can address pressures on local services caused by the pandemic, including in adult social care.

“We know there is a need for a long-term solution for social care and are looking at a range of proposals as part of our commitment to bringing forward a plan that puts the sector on a sustainable footing for the future.”

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