Leonard Cheshire: No one should be denied care on cost grounds

Leonard Cheshire Disability today launched a campaign calling for the government to ensure no one is denied the social care they need because they cannot afford to pay for it.

The Social Care Matters campaign, designed to influence the forthcoming green paper on adult care funding, is highlighting the difference social care makes to the lives of disabled people, including their ability to work, volunteer and lead a social life.

The charity is seeking to both raise public awareness and lobby MPs through the campaign, using opinion polling and case studies outlining the impact of social care – or its absence – on disabled adults.

Public back increased funding

A survey for the campaign conducted last month found that 89% of adults would support more public money being poured into social care to ensure that all who needed care could receive it. Only 16% of the 1,000 people polled believed they should have to pay for the entire cost of care packages.

The rise in eligibility thresholds over the past few years has meant that three-quarters of English councils deny support to people with moderate or low-level needs, who are left to rely on family carers and their own income or savings.

And those eligible for support have seen charges increase in many authorities, which Leonard Cheshire has claimed acts as a deterrent to accessing services.

‘Freedom to live’

John Knight, Leonard Cheshire’s assistant director of policy and campaigns and a disabled service user himself, said: “Social care is much more than just personal care, it’s about living. It can give disabled people much-needed freedom to live the life they want to lead – freedom that many people simply take for granted.”

Leonard Cheshire has long argued that many disabled adults have gone without the social care they need because of their lack of income and assets. A report last year by the charity found disabled people were twice as likely to live in poverty as their non-disabled peers due to the extra costs of being disabled, inadequate benefits and barriers to work and workplace progression.

Leonard Cheshire also wants to redress a perceived focus in the debate on the future of care funding on the needs of older people who acquire care needs later in life having built up assets, as opposed to younger, often poorer, disabled adults.

Two funding systems

Last year, it backed the establishment of two funding systems for social care, one for people who lacked assets – predominantly younger disabled adults, and one for people who possessed assets and acquired care needs later in life.

However, this was condemned as a recipe for ageism by Help the Aged, which has long argued that older people are discriminated against by current funding arrangements.

This case was backed up by government research published last year which estimated it would cost £2bn to eliminate ageism in social care because older service users received less in care funding than younger adults with equivalent needs. 

The forthcoming Equality Bill is designed to outlaw unjustifiable ageism in the provision of goods and services, including social care.

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