It is hard to overstate how important a plan for social care is in the ongoing public health crisis. Many people who rely on social care will be at particular risk from the coronavirus and we must do all we can to prevent them from becoming infected.
To limit the spread of the virus we must encourage and support anyone who has become infected to self-isolate. It is, therefore, imperative for the government to ensure that any care worker who has coronavirus symptoms can afford to take time off work.
Most care workers are on low wages and any fall in earnings can cause significant financial hardship for them and their families. Statutory sick pay, at £94.25 per week, is significantly lower than many care workers will regularly earn. Furthermore, workers with irregular hours may be unable to prove that they earn the £118 per week threshold to qualify for SSP.
To protect people who rely on social care, the government must urgently guarantee full pay for care workers who have coronavirus symptoms so that they can afford to self-isolate. No worker should have to choose between avoiding financial hardship and safeguarding public health
We must get this right and I would urge the Government to work with users, relatives, the care sector, and trade unions to meet the needs of the social care system during this crisis – whether that is protective equipment or increased funding for staff and the wider system. As with the NHS, we must do whatever it takes to support social care.
It is not too late to act to plug the funding gap for adult social care and support the 1.2 million older people who currently have unmet needs. This can be solved and I am determined to ensure the voice of social care workers and users are heard.