Social care plans ‘ignore working-age disabled people’

Campaigners are denouncing the Conservatives for ignoring the social care needs of working-age disabled people. The issue does not get a mention in the party’s manifesto for next week’s UK general election.

Conservative leader and prime minister Theresa May got in hot water last week for making a U-turn, which she called a ‘clarification’. It was over the manifesto policy on charging older people for social care.

So, the party’s social care polices now face attack on two fronts. This is because neither the original manifesto, nor that U-turn made any mention of working-age disabled people.

Disability consultant Jane Young told the Disability News Service (DNS) that the manifesto demonstrates ‘ignorance of adult social care services’.

She said: “Anyone reading it would assume that only older people use social care services, when in reality one-third of social care service-users are disabled people of working age.

“We’re left completely in the dark as to how the proposals will affect disabled people, including those who’ve had their support reduced following the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

No acknowledgement of social care role

“While disabled people’s employment is mentioned elsewhere in the manifesto, there’s no acknowledgement of the role of social care in enabling many disabled people to work.

“All we have are questions: Will there be different arrangements for working-age service-users?

“How will the proposals affect disabled service-users with mortgages, or when they sell their home and buy another?

“Will adult social care be better funded, so it can enable independent living rather than mere existence?

“After decades of well-meaning reports, culminating in the Dilnot report and the Care Act 2014, we’re once again thrown into uncertainty.

“We expect more than a manifesto that conveniently ignores us,” she said.

social care

Sue Bott of the DRUK.

Deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, Sue Bott, said there was “No information at all about younger people in” the manifesto.

She believes most of the public are unaware that younger disabled people had to pay for their social care.

Further, she said, the social care system is ‘grossly underfunded’, and that younger disabled people pay more in charges than older people with care needs. This is because older people are allowed to keep more of their money through a generous minimum income guarantee.

Bott added: “If it was realised how much  people had to pay in charges, they would be pretty outraged. It wouldn’t fit in with the ‘scroungers and strivers’ narrative.

Completely unacceptable

“The current situation [with charging]is completely unacceptable. It seems almost out of control.

“The [Conservative] narrative is ‘we are supporting the people most in need’, but they are not, because what they are doing is giving with one hand and taking away with the other in the form of social care charges.”

Asked why the manifesto makes no mention of the social care needs of working-age disabled people, a Conservative party spokeswoman told DNS: “Our manifesto has committed to making sure nobody has to sell their family home to pay for care.

“We will make sure there’s an absolute limit on what people need to pay.  And you will never have to go below £100,000 of your savings, so you will always have something to pass on to your family.”

That reply, of course, failed to answer the question, but the we cannot really expect honesty, can we?

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* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Diagnosed with MS in 2002, he continued to work until mobility problems made him retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective. Besides that, he is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

Urgent action urged to correct social care shortages

Chronic under-funding of the UK’s social care system, revealed by a new report from by The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust, has prompted the Multiple Sclerosis Society to call on the government to take action.

On its website, under the heading ‘New report shows human cost of a social care system struggling to cope’, the society says:

The care and support people receive depends on where they live and how much money they have rather than their needs, according to the report ‘Social care for older people: Home truths’.

The report looks at the impact of funding cuts to local authorities’ budgets for social care services. It finds the social care system is unable to meet the needs of people who depend on it, and that cuts are placing an unacceptable burden on unpaid carers.

Key findings of the report:

  • Six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets have seen 26% fewer people get help.
  • More and more people are having to pay for their own care. Those who can’t afford to pay are relying on an increasingly threadbare local authority safety net.
  • The situation for people needing care has been made worse by pressures elsewhere in the NHS.
  • The funding outlook for the next five years is bleak – the growing gap between needs and resources will reach at least £2.8 billion by 2019.

Real Lives

The Richmond Group of Charities, of which we are a member, has published a complementary report, ‘Real Lives’, which gives voice to the experiences of people using social care.

It features the story of Alison, a woman in her seventies who lives with MS and has received a social care package from her local authority for the past 12 years. Her story highlights the difference it makes to have meaningful choice and control over her care.

Denied support

michelle mitchell ms societyOur chief executive, Michelle Mitchell (pictured, right), said: “The evidence and experiences in this report echo many of the stories we hear from people with MS and their families and carers – that social care is chronically underfunded and not working for the people who rely on it.

“MS affects nearly 90,000 people in England and more than a third of them could need social care support. Shrinking social care budgets are leaving too many people without the help they need to live independent lives. It’s also increasing pressure on families and carers who play an invaluable role in supporting people with MS.

“The Government must urgently address the shortages in the social care system so that people with MS aren’t denied the vital support they need and unnecessary pressures aren’t put on the NHS.”


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