Charities unite to lobby on social care system crisis
Thursday 18 September 2008
Scope, Age Concern England and Mencap are for the first time teaming up for a fringe event at each of the main political party conferences this year to lobby on social care reform.
The three charities will hold a joint fringe event to highlight the problems experienced by disabled and older people with the current social care system entitled: Rights not write off! What disabled people and older people want from social care reform.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson will be speaking at the Labour conference event on Monday evening (September 22). It follows a fringe event held at the Liberal Democrats conference this week where guest speakers included Paul Burstow MP, Chief Whip. The final fringe event, to be held at the Conservatives party conference, will be led by Mark Harper MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People and Dame Jo Williams DBE, Chief Executive of Mencap.
Britain's social care system is currently in crisis with many people failing to access the support they need due to increasingly tight funding and eligibility criteria. Demographic changes are exacerbating the problem with an increase in the number of older and disabled people increasing demand for social care services, putting additional pressure on a system already at breaking point.
Scope, Age Concern England and Mencap will be highlighting what disabled people and older people have identified as the biggest problems with the current social care system. They are:
- Lack of information, advice and advocacy to enable disabled and older people to informed choices about social care
- The postcode lottery for service - which means eligibility and charges differ for different geographical areas
- Lack of choice and control over where and how disabled and older people live their lives
- The inconsistent (and often prohibitive) cost of services
A range of suggestions for tackling the social care crisis and reforming the current system will be put forward including creating an outcome-based assessment process tailored to an individual's specific needs and creating a statutory right for older and disabled people to control their own support, giving a clear legal right to individual budgets to increase people's choice and control.
The fringe event comes at an important time as the Government is currently consulting on options for reforming the social care system and a Green Paper will be brought forward in early 2009.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive at Scope said:
"The current social care system is simply not delivering for disabled people or older people. We share similar concerns on social care with Age Concern England and Mencap and hope our partnership approach on this important issue will inspire some fresh thinking across the political divide."
Dame Jo Williams, chief executive of learning disability charity, Mencap, said:
"The current social care system is letting down some of our most vulnerable citizens. We are joining forces with Age Concern and Scope to highlight the impact that a severely under-funded social care is having on the lives of disabled and older people and to propose some solutions to one of the biggest problems facing our society today."
Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern England, said:
"Older people and their families are being let down by the present social care system. Without fundamental reform and increased funding the situation will get worse. Everyone who needs care should be able to get a decent quality of care when they need it."