I’m really pleased to be a founding member of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social care.
There’s no doubt our social care system in crisis. £4.6 billion has been lost from social care budgets, despite rising demand, and around 1.2 million older people have care needs that are going unmet.
In recent years, one in ten people reaching the age of 65 has faced lifetime care costs of over £100,000, with some homeowners paying the entire value of their homes.
At the same time, the impact of poverty on health means that those most unable to pay for support often need care earlier in life. Declining public health is particularly affecting older women living alone in poorer areas. As a result, many people rely on family members to provide free care.
These unpaid carers do an extremely difficult job and need support themselves. If that support isn’t available then this can have a serious impact on their own physical and mental health. That’s why I’ve worked with Sheffield Young Carers to campaign for more provision, including free bus travel, for young carers.
As Age UK’s ‘Breaking Point’ campaign highlights, these caring responsibilities fall disproportionately on women. There are approximately 886,162 ‘sandwich carers’ in the UK who care for an older relative while also bringing up a family. 98% (864,628) are women and 9% (80,641) are providing 35+ hours a week of care with little support. Of these, 44% are juggling paid work too.
Labour has set out a range of proposals to improve life for those receiving and giving care. In Government, we’ll establish a National Care Service that would will increase the social care budgets by a further £8 billion over the lifetime of the next Parliament, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. We’ll also increase the Carer’s Allowance for unpaid full-time carers who work so hard and deserve something in return.
I hope that the APPG can work cross-party to provide some new ideas and proposals to bring our care system out of crisis.