This week I also took part in the Westminster Hall debate on the motion that this House has considered social reform and the social care workforce.
As social care in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the focus of this debate was England. It is an issue I have spoken on many times, mainly because the UK Government’s Green Paper on social care, first announced in 2017, has been postponed several times and the reform the system in England so badly needs is clearly still some way of.
Like the NHS, social care has faced huge pressures during the covid pandemic, which came at the end of a decade of austerity, with the NHS on its knees and an £8 billion social care funding gap in England alone.
Service cuts had led to under-provision, with Age UK identifying that almost 1.5 million people do not get the support they need. While most think of frail, elderly people when they talk about social care, it is also critical to allow those facing end of life to be at home, if they wish, and to ensure that younger people with a disability can participate fully in society.
Scotland faces exactly the same issues as the rest of the UK: an ageing population, a growing need for social care support, and the challenge of retaining and recruiting care staff, particularly with new visa requirements increasing the difficulty in recruiting from the EU. However, there are significant differences in both the provision and structure of health and social care in Scotland with devolution enabling the return of the Scottish NHS to a single public body with local services provided by geographical health boards. We are now integrating the NHS with social care through the establishment of integrated joint boards, which is facilitating better service provision for those who need it and better pay and conditions for staff.
You can watch my speech in full below