I write to you in my capacity as CEO of Dimensions, a not-for-profit support provider supporting adults who have a learning disability and/or autism. Dimensions supports around 3,500 people across England and Wales, including people in your constituency.
The past few months have shown us all the importance of social care. Not only have people worked tirelessly within social care to keep people safe during the pandemic, but social care has also been there to ease the pressure on the NHS and ensure that capacity is available to tackle COVID-19.
The contribution of the social care workforce has been significant. The central role social care services play in the lives of thousands of people has been made obvious. For example, 90% of people supported by Dimensions said their support teams had helped them to stay safe during the pandemic.
Up and down the country social care support has been essential to maintaining people’s safety, health and wellbeing in unprecedented times, and it will continue to be essential long beyond the pandemic. I refer you to Dimensions’ #CoronaHeroes platform, sharing wonderful stories of my colleagues’ work during COVID-19.The time has come to reform the system and implement long term solutions for social care funding and improved models for commissioning services.
Worryingly, it is increasingly clear that local authorities up and down the country are facing critical financial difficulties, which are likely to exacerbate a postcode lottery for those who access services. Many, having sold assets and exhausted reserves, are facing the unthinkable prospect of issuing a section 114 order – bankruptcy. I refer you to my recent blog on this issue, outlining the considerable risks to people’s lives arising from COVID-19 and longstanding funding gaps.
At Dimensions, we believe that social care is an essential part of a fair and inclusive society, where people who have a learning disability and autism have equal chances to lead the lives they choose. Political action is urgently needed to ensure that local government can continue to provide high quality services for those that need them to lead a good and meaningful life.
We are calling for cross-party talks on social care reform to begin immediately. Now is the time for policy makers to come together to identify ways forward for reform, working alongside those who have lived experience of using social care services. After numerous Commissions, Green Papers and White Papers, the time now is for action to ensure people who need services have the right support and ensure that the social care workforce is recognised and rewarded for their contribution. I urge you to write to the Minister for Care, highlighting the pressing need to resolve issues in local authority funding for adult social care.