08 Nov 2023

Homecare Association calls for urgent government action on social care following the King's Speech

CEO of the Homecare Association, Dr Jane Townson OBE, commenting on the King's Speech said:

“In the King’s Speech, the government stated its commitment to improving the wealth and health of the UK. The Homecare Association welcomes the government’s intentions and urges swift and decisive action.

We acknowledge and are grateful for the government's focus on improving the NHS, including mental health, as well as housing. We are, however, disappointed by the absence of a parallel emphasis on social care. It is another missed opportunity to show political courage and leadership in preparing for a future with a much older population.

Care is intrinsic to the nation’s social fabric and inextricably linked to the efficacy of our health services.

Social care is also an important sector of the economy in its own right. It employs 1.6 million people, which is more than the NHS, and contributes over £55 billion p.a. to gross domestic product. This is more than some other key sectors, including transportation and storage; accommodation and food services; electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing.

High inflation and cost of living are adversely affecting the social care workforce, which is among the lowest paid in the country. Measures to address these issues are vital.

Prolonged under-investment in social care by the government has led to poor pay and terms and conditions of employment. This has created domestic workforce shortages whilst demand for care is rising. We are now reliant on international recruitment, which is complex, costly, risky and fraught with ethical concerns.

Lack of access to social care services has a negative impact on individual health wellbeing, NHS services, and the economy.

The government funds two-thirds of people receiving homecare and about half of those in care homes. Without government intervention, the sector cannot solve funding shortfalls and inadequate care supply.

We urge the government to:

  1. Recognise social care as a vital part of the economy, which requires its own industrial strategy.
  2. Invest in education and employment to support its growth to meet the needs of our ageing population.”