The UK’s main political parties are gearing up for yet another general election on 12 December, the third since 2015.
Party manifestos are yet to be published, so it’s unclear what might be on the table for social care. But in the interim, Community Care asked main sector bodies to share their election ‘wish lists’.
The long-term sustainability of adult social care in England was near the top of the agenda during the last election in 2017, with the Conservatives forced into a mid-campaign U-turn following criticisms of its manifesto pledges. However, despite the prominence given to the issue during the campaign, nothing has happened in the intervening two years, with the government’s promised green paper delayed multiple times.
Unsurprisingly then, reform and improved funding of adult social care is prominent on social care bodies’ demands.
The British Association of Social Workers said that “the next government needs to implement sufficient, transparent funding for all requiring adult social care across the UK”.
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Julie Ogley said: “It is a burning injustice [that] long-term funding and reform of social care haven’t been addressed.”
“Those of us who are older and disabled or who provide care and support for families cannot get the care and support we need.”
Ogley called it “a critical domestic issue” that all parties and parliamentary candidates needed to address.
While social care – at least for adults – is likely to be prominent in the campaign, it will be much harder for social work to gain column inches in party manifestos based on past experience.
Investment in children’s social work ‘critical’
Nevertheless, BASW said it was critical that the next government “[invest] in children’s social work and quality direct relationship-based practice”, and “ensure social workers have manageable workloads and the right working conditions for excellent practice”.
BASW also called for a “real end to austerity policies and welfare cuts and a major investment in prevention, crisis care, early help and universal services across all parts of social care”.
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) did not issue a statement but tweeted on Wednesday: “As the #GE2019 campaign gets underway, we hope the issues it raises, including funding for vital public services, children’s rights and poverty, feature in debate”.
The tweet cited its 2017 policy paper, A country that works for all children, which called for increased funding for children’s services, including sustainable investment in preventive services, the development of a coherent workforce strategy for professionals including social workers to improve recruitment and retention, and a review of the links between rising child poverty and demand for children’s services to form the basis of a new child poverty strategy.