There are roughly ten million people in the UK living with arthritis, yet too often it can go unnoticed or ignored by wider society. I welcome efforts to raise awareness of the condition and the effect it can have on people’s daily lives.
Aids and adaptations in the home can greatly enhance the quality of life for people living with arthritis and support them to live as independently as possible. I was concerned by reports that some people with arthritis face barriers in accessing this support. Arthritis Research UK has highlighted that, despite policy being in place to ensure provision of home aids and adaptations, people are living without them and are unaware that local authorities have a statutory duty to provide this type of equipment.
The Government maintains that the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), which supports people living with arthritis, has increased year-on-year. However, an independent review of the DFG, published in December, found that the fear of triggering demand that cannot be met by local authorities has resulted in minimal advertising of the DFG. The review concluded that this makes it very hard for people to find out about the help that may be available.
By 2020, local authorities will face reductions in Government funding of nearly £16 billion since 2010. Directors of Adult Social Care warn that spending on prevention is again set to reduce in 2018-19 and it is becoming harder for councils to manage the tension between prioritising statutory duties towards those with the greatest needs and investing in prevention.
At the last general election, I stood on a manifesto with a commitment to put prevention at the centre of a new National Care Service, which would have included exploring an increased role for aids and adaptations. More widely, I will continue to press the Government for the proper finances to be put in place to address our nation’s health needs and improve the support available for people living with arthritis.