UNISON RESPONDS TO WHITE PAPER ON SOCIAL CARE
UNISON RESPONDS TO GOVERNMENT WHITE PAPER ON SOCIAL CARE
The government’s white paper on social care “does not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable in our society” UNISON said today.
The UK’s largest union criticised the Tory-led coalition government for failing to set out exactly how social care will be funded in the future, branding the deferral of these decisions until the 2013 or 2014 Spending Review as “cowardly”.
This new white paper is a missed opportunity to solve the chronic and growing funding crisis. UNISON said that the principles of supporting a cap between £35,000 to £50,000 being placed on care costs, without any real plans to implement or fund care beyond this amount, will do little to reassure the elderly in our society and their families, worried about the costs of care in later life.
The union said that snatching back allowances from pensioners, or enacting the Dilnot ‘death tax’ will place a disproportionate burden on the sick, the weak and the poor. The fit and well will not need to sell their homes to go into residential care, but the unwell will.
Without extra funding the social care crisis will grow while the quality of services will drop. Efficiency savings will not be able to fill the £1.2bn-a-year funding gap, and UNISON warns that more care services will be cut without additional resources.
UNISON National Officer Helga Pile said:
“This white paper does not go far enough to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and leaves too many unanswered questions about how the care funding gap will be filled.
“The fairest way forward would be to fund social care through general taxation and provide a ‘national care service’, free at the point of need. Doing so would address the issues of underfunding.
“Failing to set out exactly how social care will be funded in the future is bad enough, but deferring the decision until the 2013/14 spending review is cowardly and short-termist. We need decisive action from this government, and a commitment from them that they will not shirk the responsibility of providing good quality, universal social care.
“Re-packaging care costs and cuts in the wider spending review or speculating on whether we can rely on private insurance companies to mitigate the funding gap is in no way a sustainable long term solution. The current situation encourages a race to the bottom for cheaper care, poorer quality conditions for care users and places providers and the workforce under pressure to deliver a service under low pay and in constrained time slots.”
The union does welcome some of proposals: in particular the introduction of a national system of eligibility and assessment to end the post code lottery; the provision of better information on choices of social care support; and the announcement of a new code of conduct and minimum training standards for care workers – all of which have been long overdue.
UNISON believes that the fairest way forward would be to fund social care, like the NHS, through general taxation – and that a ‘national care service’, truly integrated with the NHS, would address the issues of underfunding, monitoring and regulation, and remove the need to rely on private insurance companies.
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