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Time for political silence on social care to end

by Kirsty Kirsty

All comments to be attributed to Ian Pritchard

Social care is one of the biggest challenges the new government will face – but it was almost completely absent from the General Election campaign.

While the media reported betting scandals, hypothetical tax and who had Sky TV as a child – the 1.2 million people working in the social care sector and the hundreds of thousands they support – were offered very little from either main party.

As the chief executive of a charity that supports people with learning disabilities this was very disappointing to see – but not surprising.

For too long now the funding of adult social care has been an elephant in the room in national politics that has never been satisfactorily addressed.

And within the sector itself there remains significant disparities in funding. 

In particular, services for elderly care continue to be much better funded than services for adults with disabilities. 

At AFG we have long called for equality of funding for adults with a learning disability who continue to be forgotten.

Now the dust has settled and a new era begins, the hope of everyone in the sector is that Keir Starmer’s new Labour government will make social care THE top priority and give the adults with learning difficulties the focus and funding they deserve.

Manifesto promises

In its manifesto Labour commits to ensuring independent, prosperous lives for all by addressing inconsistent care standards and staff shortages. They promise local delivery, a ‘home first’ principle and endorse a Fair Pay Agreement in adult social care to ensure fair pay, terms and training standards.

At AFG we fully support these proposals and have been making strides in better conditions for our staff.

It has seen us invest millions of pounds to ensure that our workforce receives pay that is second to none as well as training and clear career progression. 

As a North West charity we offer local delivery across the region and are also committed to encouraging the most independent lives possible for the people we support.

Mental health

Additionally, AFG is uniquely positioned to offer guidance on both social care AND mental health as we also support people with mental health issues in our independent hospitals.

In the case of mental health – Labour said that they aimed to modernise mental health laws which is something that AFG and the wider sector has been crying out for for some time.

Their pledge to invest £2.6billion in mental health services is of course welcome.

However, the central funding model for mental health services means funding fails to flow down to frontline providers including AFG and others.

It is not-for-profit organisations like ourselves who take pressure out of the system by providing the NHS with vital support in the delivery of services in local communities.

This is a situation that needs urgent reform as does the restrictive Mental Health Act as it does not provide patients with enough choice over their course of treatment and doesn’t focus on the dignity of the individual. 

It’s clear that the new Government has some understanding of the desperate need for reform in mental health and for better funding in the social care sector – we can only hope that they fully grasp how much needs to be done and will take appropriate and speedy action.

We would be happy to meet with ministers looking to get a complete view of the issues facing them with social care and the Mental Health Act and to give them the benefit of our years of experience.

Equally, if the new government fails to act on its promises to support the vital services which underpin a fair and flourishing society it will fall to all of us to hold them accountable.

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