Social care reforms announced by Boris Johnson will not help disabled working age adults, the Business Disability Forum (BDF) has said.
The Prime Minister announced yesterday that there will be a 1.25% rise in national insurance to fund social care as part of a long-delayed plan to reform the system.
From April 2022, the government will create a UK-wide health and social care levy on earned income, with dividend rates increasing by the same amount.
Johnson told MPs this will raise almost £36bn over the next three years, with money from the levy going directly to the frontline.
However, while £30.6bn will be used to tackle NHS waiting lists, only £5.4 billion will be allocated to social care.
Responding to the government plans, Angela Matthews, head of Policy at BDF, said: “It is disappointing that the Prime Minister has opened the plan with an ‘ode’ to the NHS which is accompanied by a noticeable silence on a matched love for the UK’s social care system. While the NHS undoubtedly needs attention, it must not be to the detriment of proper funding for social care.
“Disabled people have repeatedly been let down by an inadequate social care system long before the pandemic. The problems with the NHS and the social care system are different and are a consequence of different factors. As an example, the already struggling NHS needs to get through its huge backlog, whilst social care has been repeatedly neglected since long before the pandemic.”
Matthews said the proposals say the government is committed to creating a “sustainable adult social care system”, but it does not explain how it will do that, or when.
She continued: “This paper is a small first step toward what needs to be done, but it does not offer confidence that this Government understands the magnitude or the urgency of reforming the social care system so that it works for everyone who needs to rely on it to live their lives.
“The message is clear: almost everyone in every financial situation will need to contribute something from their income. For disabled people experiencing a minimally moving disability employment gap and typically earning less than their non-disabled peers or who are in ‘entry’ level roles, there appears to be little relief from these announcements. Whilst it is absolutely clear that older people’s social care needs reform, once again, working age disabled people have been forgotten. None of the case studies used in the paper are from the perspective of a working age disabled person.”
Dr Rhidian Hughes, Chief Executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) also expressed concerns that the government’s approach to policy making could continue to leave disabled people living in England behind.
“We would encourage government to prioritise solutions that work for everyone and enables older and disabled people to lead independent and fulfilling lives, in their local communities,” he said.
“The government’s thinking around reform of social care has been older people’s care and selling family homes to pay for care. The funding of older people’s care is critical and there is no question the area warrants urgent reform. Yet the dominance of this focus has distracted from working age disabled people rights and entitlements, as set out in the Care Act. Social care reform must be examined through the lens of disability if it is to be inclusive and fit for purpose.”