The pandemic has had a financial impact across most sectors of our society. With furlough reducing wages, unemployment rates rising and as a result of our way of working changing, many small business having to close their doors. The impact on the disabled and vulnerable in our society has perhaps been less well publicised as a result of the world wide impact of Covid-19.
We are now seeing that some councils are passing on aspects of their budget constraints to their most vulnerable residents, with care contributions on the rise. Many disabled individuals are in receipt of benefits which are used to top up direct payments or personal health budgets that are used to pay for their vital care needs.
Care is not a luxury service, it is not a nice to have, it is crucial and for many a life line to help them survive in the community. It is concerning to see that care costs are increasing, and for those without the option of funding care privately, a choice is having to be made between care and other essentials like food and utilities.
It is unclear what the future holds for our most vulnerable; with availability of care staff in question as a result of Brexit, is the cost of care going to increase further and how will the government make this accessible and affordable?
With councils operating independently and a lack of consistency across the country, this postcode lottery of how you receive and who pays for care must be reviewed. Social care reform needs to become a priority, and the eagerly awaited Health and Care Bill will hopefully set out a better, more accessible and more affordable way for vulnerable individuals to receive care in the community.
The pandemic has increased the demand for support and the financial pressures on a care system already in crisis. For many, it is perhaps one of the most shameful signs of that crisis that it is people in the toughest of circumstances having to dig deeper to plug the financial gaps.