Social care: the legacy
For years under successive governments and before COVID-19, the social care sector had been a fragile, forgotten sector that should have been valued and acknowledged as it addresses the needs of vulnerable people who require care. Why was the sector ignored for years, and why was it seemingly just left to get on with things? This unsteady foundation meant that any response to the pandemic would be shaky, to say the least.
Data reveal that spending by councils on social care has risen since the low of 2014/2015; however, in real terms it continues below the 2010/2011 level. Bottery and Babalola (2020) note that most of that money was spent attempting to support a very fragile provider market, accompanied by a consistent, above-inflation increase in the fees that have been paid for residential, nursing and home care. In England, the overall council expenditure on social care is currently over £940 million more in real terms than in 2015/2016, with spending on commissioned services from external providers increasing by £1.4 billion. The spend has failed to recognise the increases in population and demand. The number of working age adults and those over 65 years has increased, with more than 70 000 new requests for support in 2018/2019, reflecting an increase of 3.8% with a total of more than 1.9 million requests.
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