Yesterday I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on ‘social care and the Covid-19 outbreak’. For all of us, the tragedy in social care during this pandemic will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Over 41,000 care home residents have died from coronavirus, and a third of all coronavirus deaths have been of people living with dementia. Those with learning disabilities have been six times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the general population, and care workers were twice as likely to die during the first wave, compared to the rest of the population.
We cannot let social care go back to business as usual. The pandemic struck at a time when social care was already overstretched and undervalued. Local authority care budgets have been cut by £8bn in real terms since 2010, and this has pushed many to breaking point.
Now is the time to transform social care services and support. We need a long-term settlement that supports older and disabled people to live the life they choose. We need to transform the pay, terms, training and conditions of the care workforce. And we also need to create real partnerships between the government and families provide unpaid care to loved ones. The government needs to bring forward plans for social care reform, and ensure this important issue does not go unforgotten.