This week the Prime Minister is fighting to introduce a plan that would properly fund social care. It would mean raising either national insurance contributions, or taxes.
The Covid pandemic has shown the fragility of the care sector. In May last year, Frank Knight predicted that 6,500 care homes would close with 140,000 care beds lost. The Alzheimer’s Society has said that 100,000 people with dementia would be unable to be cared for. Domiciliary care providers are having to turn down requests for help because they have a shortage of staff. Social care is for adults with disabilities and elderly with physical frailties and carers are highly skilled – but wages are low because the money simply isn’t there to pay them what they are worth.
Since Boris Johnson promised to introduce his ‘oven ready’ plan in July 2019, over 2 million requests for help have been turned down because Local Authorities don’t have the finance to support it. These are human tragedies happening every day, behind closed doors: people like you and me, now struggling to cope with their daily acts of living. Those who can afford to pay for social care receive it. Those who can’t, don’t. It’s as simple as that.
The Prime Minister’s plan is being opposed by several Conservative MPs who say it is morally wrong to raise taxes and that the rises would have an adverse effect on the young. But Justice Secretary Richard Buckland points out that this is an intergenerational crisis. The young will also grow old. He pointed out that when the NHS was formed everybody contributed, young and old – and those paying into it knew they were supporting those who needed it immediately: their turn might, or might never, come.
One Cabinet member has declaring the proposal “morally, economically and politically wrong”. It will be bad for business, said another. I wonder what God thinks about that.
‘Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace’ was the title of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book in 2017. It sums it up succinctly. Pray that this week the Government chooses not to serve Mammon this week, but grace. As Christians, we are to pray for righeousnessness – and be a voice for those who have no voice. Let’s pray about this and contact our MPs asking them to support the Social Care funding proposal.