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In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need social care workers – Western Mail column by Chief Executive Sue Evans

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need social care workers, policemen, doctors, nurses, judges, lawyers, litter pickers, refuse workers, community development teams, town planners, regulators or inspectors.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. People commit crimes, neglect and abuse the vulnerable, become ill or injured, make unwise lifestyle choices, drop litter and drive their cars too fast, among many other human activities.

Fortunately, most western societies have decided it’s appropriate for the state to provide legislation, interventions and support to help people in times of difficulty, protect the vulnerable from the acts of others, deal with law-breakers and keep communities safe, clean and resilient.

Why then are most state interventions in the UK fully funded by taxes, yet people who need social care are expected to pay towards the costs of their care? Why has the state decided to fully fund the salaries of a policemen, doctor or judge, while social care workers rely on their local authorities to raise enough money by charging people, to supplement their government grant and council tax?

In England, councils are allowed to increase council tax to help meet the costs of social care but the evidence suggests that those areas where the needs for social care are highest are the same areas where household incomes are lower and people are less able to find extra money to meet new council tax demands. Even where English councils have raised extra income via council tax, they predict they will not be able to meet their residents’ social care needs – and social care is in crisis in many parts of the UK.

There’s an opportunity to think and act differently in Wales, if we want to avoid a social care crisis and support Welsh Government’s ambition for a fairer Wales where everyone can achieve their best. Welsh Government has commissioned experts to review health and social care in Wales and the expert panel is set to make its recommendations at the end of the year.

There’s a real desire to focus on prudent healthcare where resources are shifted into local communities to support the prevention of illness, promoting good health and making sure only necessary clinical interventions take place. Social care, community services and third sector support are recognised as crucial elements to protect and promote the dignity, independence and well-being of the population and, by doing so, prevent or delay the need for more acute forms of health and social care.  This is what people want and it’s better for the public purse.

We know that most people don’t understand why health care is free and social care is means tested.  This review is an opportunity to examine if this is still the right model for Wales and, if so, what’s a reasonable contribution for people to make. If social care could be fully funded by the state, people need to help Welsh Government identify where budgets can be re-aligned to meet those costs, as state budgets are reducing due to austerity and rising demands for public services.

I would urge all readers to contribute to the review to help Welsh Government with those difficult choices.   

- See more at: http://www.ccwales.org.uk/news/2017/01/09/in-an-ideal-world-we-wouldnt-need-social-care-workers-western-mail-column-by-chief-executive-sue-evans/#sthash.hxDNmfoa.dpuf