The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 29th March:
There are so many challenges facing our community and indeed country at the moment, some of which we are all well aware of.
But one that I fear has not been spoken about enough is the crisis in our social care sector.
Because since 2010, over £6bn has been cut from adult social care budgets.
On top of devastating cuts to local authority budgets, the Local Government Association is warning the funding gap between what’s available and what is needed could reach £3.5bn by 2025.
According to a recent report, here in Barnsley our council commits the largest share of its overall spending to social care, at around 62 per cent.
I’m delighted our local authority takes so seriously the needs of vulnerable people who depend on our social care sector, but with council budgets slashed this should not need to be provided at the expense of other services that are subsequently reduced.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this Government.
Aside from these devastating cuts to social care budgets that have stripped service provision to the bone, they continue to delay in bringing forward their social care ‘green paper’ in Parliament.
This is a consultation document that would allow people both inside Parliament and outside to have their say on social care proposals.
It would allow social care professionals and experts to let the Government know just how much the sector and vulnerable people are suffering, and what changes are desperately needed.
It was promised in the Government’s 2017 election manifesto, and we were told it would be with us by that summer.
Yet in Spring 2019, we are still waiting. And this just isn’t good enough.
Because behind the numbers, figures, and budgets, are the real stories of those who are suffering and need proper help.
There are the real instances of the emotional and financial stress being placed on carers in a sector under strain at every level.
And amidst the political turmoil elsewhere across the country, these are the people we cannot forget about.
We cannot keep waiting; it’s time we take the urgent action necessary to provide the social care sector with the resources and support it needs.