Stop spinning and wake up to the social care crisis, ministers told

The hands of an elderly woman amid warnings of a dire social care situation Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The hands of an elderly woman amid warnings of a dire social care situation Peter Byrne/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Government ministers need to stop spinning and accept there is a social care crisis, the leader of Norfolk's providers has said amid a call for more money to be put into the system next week.

Dennis Bacon, the chairman of Norfolk Independent Care who met some of Norfolk's MP earlier this month, said there was a perilous state of affairs conspiring to create the proverbial 'perfect storm' in the system.

His warning came as Sue Whitaker, chairman of Norfolk County Council's Adult Social Care Committee, joined calls for chancellor George Osborne to recognise the huge strain the system was under.

'The numbers of people needing our care are rising all the time and it should be obvious to everyone in Westminster that a fully functioning NHS can't exist without a properly funded social care system. We simply can't carry on as we are for much longer.'

While NHS budgets were protected in 2010, local authorities which are responsible for care have seen their budgets shaved, with more set to come.

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North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, a former care minister, warned of a 'dire' situation claiming there would be a £5bn funding gap for social care by 2020, on top of the £30bn funding gap in the health service.

He said the country faced a divide between those who could afford social care privately and those who would get nothing or a very inferior service.

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He has called for a non-partisan commission to engage with the public about the scale of the challenge. 'Nobody can be expected to know the detail of how the funding works. We have to be open and honest with people. There is a lack of candour with the public at the moment.'

Mr Bacon added: 'The Government needs to stop spinning that everything is okay and their highly disingenuous stance with junior doctors and admit we are in crisis. They are not making it better, they are making it worse.

'More money has got to go into social care and be ringfenced or it is going to cost the taxpayer more or it is going to bring about a disintegration of NHS services which is happening now.'

He said local councils should be able to increase tax if central government was not going to change the course of austerity. 'They can cut and change the system as much as they like. There simply isn't enough money. The money going into the NHS is not a good use of money.'

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said services and support for older people were being 'decimated'.

He said the Government's scapegoat was the county council, and more generally local authorities across the country.

He said that Prime Minister David Cameron did not know the consequences of his actions after a letter emerged with his concerns about cuts in his own constituency.

'Let's make this simple for David Cameron and his political friends. The generation of people at the memorial on Remembrance Sunday have paid into the system all of their lives and, now they need it, are entitled to expect decent treatment.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'It's essential that we have a strong health and care service, which is why we've invested an extra £3.2 billion in social care between 2011-2014 and we're putting £10 billion extra into the NHS during this Parliament.

'Ultimately, councils are responsible for deciding how to spend their budgets and we've set new guidelines for councils to make sure people get the high quality care they deserve.'

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