As we get older, many of us will need additional help in our day-to-day lives. It is essential that we address the ongoing crisis in social care so that when the day finally comes for ourselves or our relatives, we know the support we need will be there.
Social care services are struggling with a shortage of staff, rising costs, and an aging population – all while demand skyrockets. These pressures are greater in rural areas like ours. Poor transport links and more isolated communities mean fewer people can rely upon informal care from friends or loved ones. Staff working here face additional costs to fulfil their responsibilities too.
However, this is not a new development; the warning signs have been there for years and successive governments have failed to properly tackle the situation, but the situation has got worse under this Conservative Government.
Last year there were over 165,000 social care vacancies across the country. To address the shortage of care workers, we need to make sure they are valued and given the resources they need to do their jobs properly.
Recently I met with carers and managers from the ‘Care With Kindness’ team. They are a brilliant local social care service based near Payhembury that aims to offer quality support either through live-in care or regular visiting care. Unlike some care providers, they already pay much more than the minimum wage.
Liberal Democrats want to see carers given a fair deal. That’s why we’ve proposed introducing a new ‘Carer’s Minimum Wage’ of £2 per hour more than the minimum wage. We also want to see a proper workforce plan to recruit and train the new staff we need. We would pay for it by doubling the online gambling levy.
Social care workers put in long hours and travel vast distances – they deserve to be valued properly. They should not be paid the minimum wage.
Benjamin Franklin once said “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. This Conservative Government should take note of this and act now to fix our broken social care system.