Funding for carers taking respite breaks should be doubled, a coalition representing older people has urged Jeremy Hunt as they named him Health and Care Chancellor.
The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) said it was “begging” Mr Hunt to use his Budget on Wednesday to announce more investment in social care, including doubling government funding for carers’ breaks.
Age UK, which is a member of the CSA, said it had surveyed more than 1,600 carers aged 60 and over and found that 35% felt overwhelmed by the care and support they provide, while 61% were sometimes or always worried about whether she will be able to continue to care or provide support.
The CSA said unpaid carers have been left to fill a gap due to “shortages in social care services compared to increasing demand from older and disabled people”.
The organization warned that failure to provide adequate support to carers “significantly increases the risk that these informal care arrangements will collapse, so that the responsibility for providing care usually rests entirely with the state”, describing it as a “false economy”. .
The coalition said it is calling for £584m to go into the Better Care Fund for carers’ holidays, up from £292m.
The CSA has already written to Mr Hunt, urging him to “prioritise social care in your spring budget”, drawing on his experience as a former health secretary and someone who has highlighted social care issues over the years.
In their open letter, members said: “We believe you have the most developed understanding of social care, the benefits that good care brings and the huge problems for individuals and their families and carers when it is not available, of any of your has ever occupied. role as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“We sincerely hope you will draw on all this experience and insight and take decisive action to support social care in your Budget on 15 March.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK and co-chair of CSA, said that while caring for a loved one can be rewarding “it is also incredibly taxing and can absorb all your time and energy, leaving you feeling spent fully”.
He added: “We are calling on Jeremy Hunt, ‘the Health and Care Chancellor’, to double the Government’s funding for carers’ breaks.
“Social care is crying out for a long-term program of refinancing and reform and a good start is through the actions we are proposing the Chancellor take in his Budget. Certainly, the cause for hope and more concrete support for unpaid carers must be at the heart of any initiative to improve social care.’
Emily Holzhausen, director of policy at Carers UK and co-chair of the CSA, said: “The investment we are calling on the Chancellor to provide would be a boost for families, helping to support their wellbeing, quality of life and prevent some from we have to leave work to care.
“Otherwise, families, public services and the economy will continue to bear the cost of underinvestment in social care.”
The letter also called for “a generous pay rise for all care workers” and for the social means test to be made more generous so that disabled and elderly people “can continue to get the care they need and have to pay for, instead they feel they have no choice but to give it up or cut back because they just can’t afford it.”
Last year the government faced criticism for a decision to delay long-promised social care reforms until October 2025.
The reforms include an £86,000 cap on personal care cost contributions and an expanded means test that is more generous than the existing one, which was due to come into force from October 2023.
The government has said it will publish a plan to reform the adult social care system “in the spring”.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have allocated up to £7.5 billion over the next two years to support social care services – the biggest funding increase in history. This will help local authorities tackle waiting lists and workforce pressures in the sector, including burnout and boosting morale.
“Most paid carers are employed by private sector providers who set pay and conditions independently, but the Government has increased the National Living Wage by 9.7% to £10.42 an hour for workers aged 23 and over.
“We are working to reduce vacancies through a domestic recruitment drive, investing £15m in international recruitment and making care workers eligible for health and care visas.”