Today, Parliament renewed the Coronavirus Act which includes the Care Act easements.
The Care Act easements relieve local authorities of their full duties which means they can delay assessments or not meet assessed needs in full so that they prioritise cases they deem most urgent during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mencap responds to Parliament renewing the Coronavirus Act and urges the Health Secretary switch off the Care Act easements and support local authorities and social care providers so they can meet everyone’s support needs.
Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, says:
“With tough times ahead, we understand the need to extend the emergency coronavirus measures but continuing to cut people’s social care at a time when they need it most is unconscionable.
“While the Secretary of State claimed the Coronavirus Act has improved access to social care, that is not what people with a learning disability are telling us. Over two thirds of people with a learning disability we surveyed reported that their care package had been reduced since the start of the pandemic, leaving them stuck in lockdown with increasing support needs. The scale of the cuts indicate that some local authorities may be unofficially using the Care Act easements; there must be greater scrutiny of the impact of COVID-19 on social care provision.
“We urge the Health Secretary to switch off the Care Act easements and replace them with support for local authorities and social care providers so they can meet people’s needs during the coming months. Ultimately, the Government must provide an immediate injection of funding to stabilise the social care sector so we can weather the storm of this ongoing crisis. We cannot let COVID-19 become an excuse to slowly dismantle people’s care packages.”
For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Mencap’s media team on:
- 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).
Notes to editors
1. Mencap is calling for:
- a clear plan for supporting the whole care market, including services for work-aged disabled adults which currently make up over half of the total social care budget
- additional funding to meet current demand for support and stabilise the sector
- a road map towards the Government's plans for social care reform, including a long-term funding solution, fairer access to services and support and workforce reform
- Social care reform and long-term funding must cover a range of services and support that people with a learning disability need beyond personal care to enable them to lead independent and fulfilling lives in their community.
2. The social care sector needed an £8 billion investment in social care in England is needed to restore adequate levels of quality and access to what it was a decade ago, according to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee report. While the Association of Directors of Adults Social Services’ latest Budget Survey revealed that there is a growing hole in local authorities budgets for services supporting people with a learning disability – up to £200m in 2020/21 from £180m in 2019/20.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to local councils in England facing at least a £6.6bn increase in social care costs up to the end of September, according to the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adults Social Services.
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.Visit www.mencap.org.uk.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a learning disability?
- A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;
- Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;
- People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.