1st July 2011 – It’s time to prioritise social care, says Anthea Sully, Director of the Learning Disability Coalition

For most of the past year we at the Learning Disability Coalition have closely following the work of the Dilnot Commission who have been looking at the funding of care and support. Although social care is something which is not widely understood by the general public anyone who comes into contact with the system becomes aware that it is difficult to understand, unfair and badly under funded. When Andrew Dilnot presents his report on July 4th there will be many hopes that this will give a springboard for turning things around and building a better and fairer social care system.

Social care is under funded and spending is relatively small, £16 billion, in comparison to £110 billion on health, and £180 billion on welfare. Because of the changing demographics and the success story of people living longer, even to stand still with the current level of provision would mean considerably more money being put into social care. At the same time that local councils are under pressure to make cuts the demand for care and support is higher than it has ever been and will continue to grow.

If the Government fails to seize this opportunity to reform the system the crisis will only deepen. Failure to provide support to people with a learning disability increases the risk of social exclusion and health problems, particularly mental illness. We need to build a system that supports everyone who needs it, regardless of age or level of need. When the NHS was founded the country was just emerging from the Second World War. Today we are four times wealthier; are we able to have the imagination and the vision to prioritise social care so that people can live the lives they want to live?

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