Shared Statement of Ambition on Social Care launched

Shared ambition

Scotland’s social care support system is in crisis. It’s failing disabled people and carers and the way Scotland funds it is not working.

That’s Engender's view, along with coalition of 16 Scottish organisations, representing disabled people and older people, women, care providers and paid and unpaid carers and the voluntary sector, who are calling for urgent action by national and local government and policymakers. Others including academics, trade unions, politicians, local authorities, care providers and professionals also share their concerns on the future of social care funding.

The Shared Statement of Ambition report was launched by the Independent Living in Scotland project and 15 co-signatories, who believe a wholesale approach covering the entire system of funding social care is needed.

Scotland spends £2.9 million a year on social care support, yet many disabled people are still without essential support, beyond basic washing and dressing. What they need is support which allows them to work, study, contribute their communities and lead a normal life, while carers – both paid support workers and unpaid family members – and service providers are often struggling to cope, which impacts on the quality of care they can give.

The report’s authors say that the role of social care support and funding for it is fast diminishing as the population ages, disabled people live longer and public sector finance declines. They are calling on the Scottish Government to take a wholesale look at what social care support should achieve for society and to recognise it as an infrastructure investment in the social and economic well-being of Scotland. The report says that a national Commission is needed to look at the changes required to create a system that lives up to Scotland’s social justice and human rights ambitions and to identify suitable and sustainable funding, including the development of innovative new models of funding it.

Chair of the Scottish Independent Living Coalition Dr Jim Elder-Woodward, OBE, said:

“Disabled people seek a life, not a service. This is about human rights. Disabled people are paying the price, along with their family carers. Carers, both paid and unpaid, are predominately women, so it’s also a gender issue.

“Underfunded social care support leads to isolation and deprivation for disabled people and prevents them from having dignity and choice and control over their own lives and participating in the civic and social life of society as full and equal citizens. Good social care support is also key to the success of the current integration of health and social care services in Scotland, otherwise there will be even more delayed discharges from hospital and repeat admissions, which is damaging both socially and economically.

“The system is broken: there is simply not enough money. This needs to be addressed if we want to achieve the new government’s commitment to a truly inclusive and prosperous Scotland, to create jobs and economic growth, improve health and well-being, create resilient communities and tackle inequality. Our ambition is for sustained public investment in the development of a modern, nationwide infrastructure of social care support that is fit for purpose, equitable yet flexible, and which will protect, promote and ensure human rights.”

Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender, said:

"We're proud to support the Shared Statement of Ambition, and congratulate the Independent Living in Scotland project for their vital work on this topic. Scotland is in desperate need of social care system with people at its heart. The majority of carers, both paid and unpaid, are women, so it is also vital for women's equality that the Scottish government takes urgent action on this issue.

"During the Holyrood elections we called for an independent review of the social care system, along with the realisation of the existing rights of carers and those they care for through the establishment of an independent social care tribunal system. We are pleased to continue and add to this call."

Social security – including disability and carers’ benefits – is now devolved to the Scottish Government. This provides Scotland with a golden opportunity to develop a national system of genuinely joined up, person-led financial and practical support. But they also warn the new devolved budget should not lead to a “benefits gold rush” used to plug gaps in social care support funding and that the ongoing integration of health and social care support must not lead to basic support that is limited to “healthcare in the community”, at the expense of disabled people’s independent living.

Read the full Shared Statement of Ambition on Social Care here (also available in Easyread and BSL)

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