Social Care - A Rapidly Growing Problem
National Health Service now subject to the tightest spending constraints for 50 years, and this is on top of the widespread use of Private Finance Initiatives (introduced by Major and deployed by Blair and Brown) and, at an elevated rate since the passing of the Health and Social Care Act of 2012, the enforced privatisation of services.
As far as social care is concerned, central to the present and immediate future is the Social Care Act of 2014. This represents the biggest change to social care provision for 50 years. Essentially, it charges local authorities to deliver on ‘wellbeing’ according to national eligibility criteria. Councils can contract out some social work functions, including ‘assessments’. The usual rhetoric of choice and control is used to promote the notion of personal budgets. By 2016, a £72,000 cap on care costs will be in place.
From 2020: (a) for those with less than £17,000 in savings there will be no demand to use savings for care but there may be a contribution from income (b) for those with more than £17,000 but less than £27,000 in savings there will be a contribution from savings and any income; and (c) for those with savings in excess of £27,000 a contribution of 100% will be required.
Care homes: if people have more than £118,000 in savings and capital, they will have to pay all costs till they are down to £17,000.
The set of policies of which the Social Care Act of 2014 represents the end of formal adult social care.
In 2015 the International Longevity Centre issued a report on the ending of formal adult social care. It concluded that:
There are approximately 1,86 million people aged 50+ in England (1 in 10) who have unmet social care needs;
Data from 326 local authorities reveal that councils with the highest proportions of older people and unpaid carers will bring in the least money from the ‘2% council tax precept’;
Approximately 4.3 million people aged 50+ in England live alone (1 in 5 middle-aged and older people live on their own);
The numbers accessing social services have fallen by half a million since 2008 (a drop of 30%)’
Britain is now near the bottom of the OECD table for expenditure on social care as a percentage of GDP.
The formal health and social services have always been relied on unpaid care work carried out very largely by women (a hugely neglected domain and still one highlighted by feminists). About 1.5 million people currently provide 50 hours or more of unpaid care per week.