Funding must be doubled for carers to have respite breaks, a coalition representing older people has urged Jeremy Hunt, having been dubbed the ‘Chancellor of Health and Care’.
The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) said it is “imploring” Mr Hunt to use his budget on Wednesday to announce more investment in social care, including doubling government funding for carers’ breaks.
Age UK, which is a member of the CSA, said it had surveyed more than 1,600 carers aged 60 and over and found that 35% have felt overwhelmed by the care and support they provide, while 61% sometimes o You always worry about whether you could continue to provide care or support.
The CSA said unpaid carers have been left to fill a gap due to a “deficit of social care services compared to the growing demand for the elderly and disabled”.
The organization warned that the lack of adequate support for carers is “greatly increasing the risk that these informal care arrangements break down, in which case the responsibility for providing care generally falls entirely with the state”, describing it as a “ false economy”. .
The coalition said it is calling for £584m in the Better Care Fund to be earmarked for carers’ breaks, up from £292m.
The CSA has already written to Mr Hunt, urging him to “prioritize social care in his spring budget,” drawing on his experience as a former health secretary and someone who has highlighted problems in social care over the years. .
In their open letter, the members said: “We believe you have the most developed understanding of social care, the benefits that good care brings, and the enormous problems for people and their families and carers when it is not available, from anyone who ever held his role as Minister of Finance.
“We sincerely hope that you will take advantage of all that experience and knowledge and take decisive action to support social care in your budget on March 15.”
Caroline Abrahams, director of charities for Age UK and co-chair of the CSA, said that while caring for a loved one can be rewarding, “it’s also incredibly demanding and can take up all your time and energy, leaving you completely drained.”
He added: “We are imploring Jeremy Hunt, ‘the Chancellor of Health and Care’, to double Government funding for carers’ breaks.
“Social care is crying out for a long-term program of refinancing and reform and a good place to start is through the actions we recommend the Chancellor take in his Budget. Certainly a cause for hope and more concrete support for unpaid carers must be at the center of any initiative to improve social care.”
Emily Holzhausen, Policy Director at Carers UK and Co-Chair of the CSA, said: “The investment we urge the Chancellor to provide would be a boost for families, helping to support their well-being, quality of life and prevent some from having to stop work to care
“Otherwise, families, public services, and the economy will continue to bear the costs of underinvestment in social care.”
The letter also called for a “much deserved pay increase for all care workers” and for the social care means test to be more generous so that disabled and elderly people “continue to receive the care they need and have to pay for, instead they feel they have no choice but to give it up or cut it back, because they just can’t afford it.”
Last year, the government faced criticism over a decision to delay long-promised social care reforms until October 2025.
The reforms include an £86,000 cap on personal care cost contributions and an expanded means test that is more generous than the existing one, which was due to come into effect from October 2023.
The government has said it will publish a plan for the reform of the adult social care system “in the spring”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have made up to £7.5bn available over the next two years to support social care services, the largest funding increase ever. This will help local authorities to address waiting lists and workforce pressures in the sector, including burnout and increased morale.
“Most paid carers are employed by private sector providers who set their pay and conditions independently, but the Government has raised the national living wage by 9.7% to £10.42 an hour for workers 23 years or older.
“We are working to reduce vacancies through a national recruitment campaign, a £15m investment in international recruitment and making care workers eligible for the health and care visa.”