Last week I wrote about the unfairness of Boris Johnson’s plan to “fix” social care by increasing National Insurance contributions for low-paid workers.
Desperately underfunded, social care has long been starved of cash, especially over the last decade of Conservative rule. The number of people eligible for care, and the level of care they are eligible for, has been steadily cut.
The amount paid to care providers has been cut. Many are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Carers are worked hard and are paid a pittance. Staff are leaving the workforce in droves for better paid jobs.
People are having to run down their savings and sell their homes to pay for their own care.
Boris Johnson’s plan will partly solve the problem of people having to sell their homes, but only partly.
The lifetime care cap will mainly benefit those who have £86,000 in savings as well as owning their home – the average level of savings in the UK is around £9,500 – and doesn’t include food and accommodation bills which could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds more.
It does nothing about improving the pay of care workers. Nearly three-quarters of care workers are paid less than the Living Wage. They are already going to lose £1,040 a year when the Government cuts Universal Credit in October. National Insurance will cut their take-home pay even more.
Instead of improving working conditions, the Government’s plan says that care workers “will have more access to services such as counselling, peer-to-peer support and a universal helpline.”
So, the plan is not to improve terrible working conditions for care workers but to give them counselling on how to deal with it. You couldn’t make it up.
The exodus of care workers is not going to be stemmed by this. It is likely to accelerate.
Struggling care providers will actually be worse off under Boris Johnson’s plans. Their costs will go up because they have to pay increased National Insurance contributions while the proposals to lower costs for self-funders will see them receive less income. This could push many into bankruptcy.
Boris Johnson’s plans aren’t going to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.
They are going to make it worse.