UKHCA’s open letter to the Prime Minister
United Kingdom Homecare Association has written to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, calling on the Government to urgently address the issues facing the social care sector.
|Dear Prime Minister,|
Good for people, good for jobs and good for the economy
Congratulations on becoming Prime Minister at this significant time in
our country’s history and we wish you well as you lead the UK through the next crucial period.
The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) is the professional association of homecare providers representing over two-thousand members in all four UK administrations. We want older and disabled people to receive high quality social care in their own homes, where it is their preferred option.
Local authorities purchase around 70% of homecare and are key to ensuring the market is sustainable and in a position to support the NHS. Support at home helps prevent hospital and care home admissions and allows faster discharge from hard pressed acute services. A well thought out programme of investment in social care will represent considerable savings to our health services, and also provide better paid and more secure jobs for careworkers.
Good quality homecare also requires a well-trained and motivated workforce. However, social care is currently facing a major recruitment and retention problem. Although low unemployment is good for the economy overall, the social care sector is losing candidates to competing business sectors including retail and hospitality. While employers need to concentrate on recruiting and training from the domestic workforce, making that happen will require significant investment from local authorities and the NHS.
That investment will be urgently needed should recruitment challenges become exacerbated by the UK leaving the EU. UKHCA argues that while careworkers are low paid, they are highly skilled. If post-Brexit migration policy settles on high salary thresholds for skilled workers; the £30,000 threshold and required academic qualifications are unrealistic for most homecare employers and will leave social care increasingly unable to meet the demands from our aging population.
The current lack of investment in social care means an estimated 1.4m older and disabled people are not receiving the care they need; councils themselves recognise there is a real danger they will be soon be unable to meet their statutory duties. UKHCA believes there is a need for independent oversight of commissioning of adult social care by councils and the NHS, just as Ofsted oversees children’s services. That oversight is necessary if we are to be confident councils will commission sufficient high quality homecare in future. In England that means ensuring councils comply with their market shaping duties as set out in the Care Act 2014. We believe that such a function should be carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
People who fund their own social care are important too. We believe Government should consider how the tax system encourages people to plan ahead to meet their own future care needs. We hope this will be considered in the social care Green Paper that your government publishes in the near future.
Solving the social care problem will not be easy. UKHCA can bring the voice of homecare employers to the table to discuss these and other matters with your office.
Dr Jane Townson