Revealed: The staggering numbers trapped in social care debt

One week they praise the generation of D-Day, the next they take away the homes of our elderly.

This week GMB, the union for social care workers, received responses from a Freedom of Information request we sent to every local authority in Great Britain with responsibility for social care. The results highlight a national scandal.

At least 130,000 people are trapped in social care debt, with more than 93,000 people facing debt management proceedings as a result of their social care debt. 1,700 are facing legal action. It’s no surprise: our care system is in crisis.

The last decade has seen a chronic under-funding of the NHS, local authorities and the social care sector, and in truth for the sector to survive that money will have to come from somewhere.

It’s also no surprise that the Tories, who in the same week punitively took away the TV licences from the over 75’s, decided that these people should also give up their houses to pay for their senior living.

One week they praise the generation of D-Day, the next they take away the homes of our elderly.

Let’s not forget that above the cost that the local authorities, NHS and Care providers are chasing from 93,000 people, there’s also the costs that they are paying to debt collectors. And that’s before we look at the numbers from 1,700 legal claims.

All this money should have been poured into providing high quality care to the most vulnerable in our society.

This can’t go on. Under the last Labour government, pensioner poverty was slashed hugely and the Labour movement will not let that achievement will be reversed.

In February, GMB were proud to have helped launch an All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care to look at the care system, funding and state of staffing in the sector. Our care system is in crisis, and we will need radical solutions looking at both the provision as well as finding adequate funding to pay for care so that we never again find ourselves passing the burden of payment onto those who can least afford to pay it.

There are some big changes already afoot across the UK. In Wales, social care is becoming professionalised through the social care Wales registration process, where carers receive the necessary skills and qualifications required to care for the most vulnerable in the society.

Welsh Government are recognising that social care is a sector, not an industry, and early discussions indicate we’re likely to get to place where terms and condition fall under sectoral bargaining. This will provide stability for the workforce and genuine care providers who want to make social care about people and not profit.

The APPG which GMB helped set up will look at these reforms as well as many others and we’re confident that it will build the foundations of a social care system for the 21stcentury.

We’re ready to fight for the generation who rebuilt this country, just like our members who work with them every day. Radical change is coming, and just like the last 130 years, GMB members will be right at its very heart. 

Kelly Andrews is the GMB union’s Lead Care Officer. 

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5 Responses to “Revealed: The staggering numbers trapped in social care debt”

  1. Tom Sacold

    We all know what’s needed. It was set out in the Dilnot Report back in 2011. The results of that report are still valid. We just need the monetary items adjusted for inflation and a Government with the balls to put it into action.

  2. jonathan.bagley

    I agree with Tom. The problem is that once people stop enjoying life and it becomes more expensive, they don’t think they should be responsible for funding it. And children view their parents’ assets as their own. The rejection of Dilnot’s idea of buying off the risk illustrates this.

  3. Tina Moran

    Thanks for sharing this informative and helpful article

  4. Beth Logan

    Great blog! Kudos Kelly 🙂

  5. Patrick Newman

    This is another source of threats to the viability of social care providers who can ill-afford resources to recover debt much of which will have to be sold off or written off. Still no sign of the Green Paper promised by May during the 2017 election (the infamous “nothing has changed” farce). Good riddance but it is difficult to see the next PM taking much interest when they will have to manage the inevitable no deal Brexit crisis.

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