A leading care group fears social care reform is set to be shelved again due to the costs involved.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said reform is due to be kicked into the long grass once more in next week’s Queen’s Speech.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham, who has written to the PM calling for reform not to be delayed, said: “Social care reform cannot be put off any longer or it would be a complete betrayal of vulnerable people.
“The Government has proved many times that if money is needed it can be found, particularly if it is vital for the country. Track and trace will eventually cost £37bn and yet it is debatable whether it had a huge impact on our tackling of COVID-19. HS2 could cost upwards of £100bn and that has divided the nation.
“Reform of social care would cost just a fraction of those sums and bring huge benefits to the quality of life of a great number of people in the process. We cannot allow the Government to put money ahead of the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable yet again.”
The ICG said 1.5m people are now living without the care they need after £8bn was cut from social care budgets since 2010-11. There are more than 100,000 staff vacancies in the sector.
“The perilous state of social care has been mercilessly exposed by COVID-19,” Mike said in his letter to the PM.
“Thousands of people in care settings have died; many more have been seriously ill or deprived of contact with family and friends for months. Social care staff have been left exhausted and traumatised after fighting on the frontline alongside their counterparts in the NHS.
“COVID-19 struck at the heart of a sector that was exposed and vulnerable, on its knees after decades of being starved of funding, unrecognised and unloved. The time has come to end this misery and give social care the reform it has long been promised but endlessly cheated out of.
“The Queen’s Speech on 11 May offers that opportunity.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Improving the adult social care system remains a priority for this government and we will bring forward proposals later this year.
“Throughout the pandemic we have provided almost £1.8 billion in specific funding for adult social care including infection prevention and control measures. We are also providing councils with access to over £1 billion of additional funding for social care in 2021-22.”