The looming social care crisis for Britain’s disabled people

Social care support for disabled people
Published on Thursday, 24 January 2013 11:50
Written by Richard Hawkes

For many years now disabled people have been telling Scope about the struggles they face getting the basic social care support they need

There has been much talk of the Government's social care crisis and how to solve the problem of older people having to sell their homes to pay for their care.

Yet many people may not even realise how critical social care support is for disabled people. One third of people receiving social care support are disabled.

This basic support, to help people get up, get washed and dressed and to leave their homes can be the difference between someone living a fulfilled life and someone struggling with the basics, that most people take for granted.

In order to understand exactly what the reality was for disabled people reliant on social care, Scope, together with four other leading disability charities commissioned new research.

The findings bought into sharp focus the scale and the very human impact the social care crisis is having on disabled people today.

As a result of decades of chronic underfunding from successive Governments, we found that social care support for disabled people has been underfunded to the tune of £1.2billion every year.

As a result, almost 40% of disabled people who currently receive some social care support say that it is not meeting their basic including eating properly, washing, dressing or getting out of the house.

We heard horror stories of disabled people being asked if they really needed to wash more than once a week. Of disabled people having to store food and drink underneath their beds in case they weren't able to get to their kitchen. And of disabled people being offered incontinence pads instead of help to go to the toilet.

This is the sad reality for thousands of Britain's disabled people and it is unacceptable.

The fact is that demand for social care support has been growing year on year. At the same time councils are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets. By 2015, councils will have seen budgets cut by up to 28%.

Local councils are being placed in an impossible position because Government has failed to invest in social care. As a result councils are not only having to limit the amount of support they are able to offer people but also reduce the numbers of people who receive it.

In 2005, 50% of the 152 councils in England provided social care support to those people with 'moderate needs' and above. By 2012, 84% were only providing support to those with 'substantial needs' or above.

The Government, to be fair, has recognised the problem and in its new Care and Support Bill plans to set national eligibility for social care, a move which will end the postcode lottery of care.

However it is widely anticipated that the Government will set national eligibility at 'substantial needs' or above.

This means 105,000 disabled people who currently have moderate needs will be at risk of not getting the support they need for the basics in life.

There is no doubt that our social care system is failing disabled people.

So how do we resolve this crisis and prevent this desperate situation from escalating further?

No matter how you look at this problem, it cannot be right that disabled people in Britain, in 2013, are struggling with the basics in life – to get up out of bed, washed, dressed, to eat a home cooked meal and to leave their homes.

Yes we are facing a period of unparalleled austerity measures. Yes times are tough for everyone at the moment.

But unless the Government wants to condemn disabled people to a life without basic dignity and invisible to society, it needs to address the £1.2billion funding gap.

Let's put this into perspective, £1.2billion is the equivalent to 0.17% of public spending.

Governments make tough spending decisions every day and quite simply this is the price the Government must pay to guarantee basic support for the most vulnerable people in our society

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