Care, employment and families – big week for disability

It may be the last week before Christmas, but politicians are making time between mince pies and mulled wine to look at a couple of important disability issues.

Today MPs have their first opportunity to debate the Government’s plans for reforming local care – including capping care costs for elderly and an end the postcode lottery in care.

Councils say the crisis in social care sits behind big health issues such as pressure on A&E and GPs – if older and disabled people don’t get preventative, community care, they risk becoming isolated and slipping into crisis.

The Care and Support Alliance – representing 75 charities – is today saying that the bill is a real achievement but risks being undermined by a funding black hole which has forced councils to restrict who gets support.

The CSA has published new research from the LSE that reveals that if we had the 2008 care system today another half a million disabled and older people would get preventative, community support.

Sitting behind this is massive, historic under-funding. Government spending on social care would have had to rise by an additional £1.6 billion just to keep pace with demographic pressures. Instead councils have had to reduce their budgets by £2.6bn in the last three years alone, according to social services directors.

The story is on Sky News and in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times.

Meanwhile Scope has been asking disabled people to talk about why social care is important to them and encouraging the public to show that it thinks the Government needs to act on care.

Then on Tuesday the Government is going to be talking about getting more disabled people into work.  This is a huge issue. And it’s great that the Government is committed to tackling it. BBC’s In Business programme last week, which previewed some of the announcement, is worth a listen.

We’ll also be looking out for news on Children and Families Bill tomorrow.

Families have told us that they really struggle to the support they need in their local area. This bill will mean that councils will have to publish a ‘Local Offer’ of services available in the local area. Local agencies like education and the health services will have to work together better to plan and commission services for disabled children.

These are positive moves but we have been pushing for stronger guarantees that families with disabled children and young people will be able to hold local agencies to account for the delivery and quality of services set out in the Local Offer. Without this, families will be left with the same battles they encounter now in trying to get support. We’ll be keeping a close on the crucial final stages of the bill.

Around the country people #SpeakOut4Care – will MPs today?

Guest post from Graeme Hay, National Campaigns Officer at Scope. 

Social care takes so many different forms and can help people with loads of different tasks and activities in their everyday lives. Whether it’s helping people get up and ready in the morning, preparing and eating food, or getting out and about – this crucial support helps many disabled people live independent lives.

The Care Bill, Government legislation which will decide the future of social care, is being debated by MPs for the first time today. But at the moment it risks shutting more than 100,000 disabled people out of social care completely.

So we wanted MPs to hear from their constituents about why social care is so important to them, asking them to send in a message that we promised to deliver to their MP. We got a huge response from people all over the country – people who use social care, relatives and people who just believe everyone should be able to live their lives the way they want to.

Graeme Hay holding up Speak out for care bubble

Powerful stories

All the messages were printed out on to big speech bubbles and delivered to almost 400 MPs in Parliament last week. There were some incredibly powerful stories, here are just a few examples to share with you: 

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because… everyone deserves an equal chance to live to their full potential with the support they require in order to achieve this.”

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because… I am a 67 year old man who has been disabled from birth. I need help with everything, getting dressed, taking medication, and as I am also registered as severely sight impaired. I would be jailed in my own house and unable to get out or talk and meet new friends without help.”

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because… my wheelchair using friend has so much to offer the world but is housebound because of lack of care – lack of care makes people more dependent, not less.”

“I want everyone who needs care to get it because that is the way it should be.”

As well as all the usual briefings filling up MPs post bags, we hope they’ll pay special attention to these unique stories from their constituents, speaking out for care, and use the Care Bill debate to make sure that everyone who needs social care gets it.

Growing number of voices

And the voices speaking out for care are growing even bigger.

Alana and her brother James from Oxfordshire, who relies on social care to live independently, started a change.org petition calling on party leaders to commit to making sure everyone who needs care can get it.

At the time of writing nearly 40,000 people have already signed the petition showing just how big an issue social care is for so many people around Britain.

Will MPs respond and speak out at the debate today, to make sure everyone who needs care gets it?  Follow the debate on Twitter and check back here tomorrow for our rundown and what happened in Parliament.