Association of Mental Health Providers

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Social Care 360: Our Response

Considering the recent Social Care 360 briefing by the King’s Fund, which highlights a social care system that is under intense pressure, the Association of Mental Health Providers, the representative body for voluntary and community sector mental health service providers, continues to call for increased funding for the sector and implementation of reforms to make the system fairer.

This Social Care 360 briefing shines a spotlight on issues facing the social care sector which include a lack of changing financial thresholds, the cost to local authorities of purchasing care increasing faster than inflation, the social care workforce vacancy rate at its second highest-ever level, and fewer unpaid carers receiving direct support or respite care.

It is important to note that:

“The number of new requests for support in the social care sector has increased from 1.98 million in 2021/22 to 2.0 million in 2022/23” yet “in 2022/23, 2% fewer people were receiving support than in 2015/16, despite 11% more people requesting it.”

On Wednesday 14 February the Association of Mental Health Providers, alongside the National Care Association, and Care Association Alliance, wrote a letter calling on the Prime Minister to:

  • Urgently review the Treasury allocation for Social Care and Support services.
  • Communicate as to what the government’s long-term plan for social care will be and a date when the national workforce plan will be published.
  • Galvanise the portfolios of Ministers responsible for addressing these issues and their real-life impact on the most marginalised.

The social care sector remains chronically underfunded but is faced with increased expectations to support people with complex healthcare needs and provide essential partnerships to our NHS colleagues. The importance of these services should not be underestimated.

We have witnessed underfunding and broken promises concerning Social Care by successive governments. This lack of support over the past two decades and nominal support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, have illuminated that no lessons have been learned and the neglect of the sector and those we support continues. This includes the lack of social care support services mentioned in the Spring Budget which was announced on the 6 March 2024.

Following the publication of the People at the Heart of Care: Adult Social Care Reform White Paper, published in December 2021, the Association of Mental Health Providers’ Chief Executive, Kathy Roberts, emphasised that:

“People might be at the heart of care in this publication but without an “urgent fix” for the crisis that is currently being faced, there will not be a workforce to deliver services and those with poor mental health and illness will not be able to receive the personalised or any other care and support that this White Paper focuses on.”

On 4 April 2023, the government published The Next Steps to Put People at the Heart of Care, as part of its reform process. We pointed out that “the paper suggests the foundations for person-centred, personalised care and support have been laid. A plan that has not been coproduced and consists of broken promises leads us to once again question, can this vision truly become a reality?”

With a general election on the horizon, we urge all political parties to commit to solving the crisis for the millions of people needing social care support. We remain forever hopeful and will continue to call for sustainable sector funding and to make mental health social care a priority for all.