It was my pleasure to address the LGA conference today. I was straight on as the first speaker after the AGM. I was proposing a motion on adult social care which was passed unanimously by the hundreds of delegates present. You can read the content of my planned speech below. The reality was that I kept to about 60% of the speech.
Proposing the motion:
Thank you Chairman.
This is my first time i have spoken at an LGA conference, and I must say that am suitably impressed by the size and scale of the venue it takes to hold us all.
I think that it is right that social care reform is the first item on our agenda, and I think it is appropriate.
It is the elephant in the room for so many of us, and right here, right now – the size of the elephant matches the size of the room.
We will cover many important topics this week, which is only proper. That is what we have been elected to do. But I believe that this is one issue we must hold above all others.
Of course we should celebrate the fact that we are all living longer, but that achievement does bring with it some major challenges and pressures. We find ourselves with a system for providing care and support that is broken; it just isn’t fit for purpose any more. Now is the time that we must work together with our Government to fix it.
I really welcomed our Prime Minister’s recent speech on welfare reform, it was hard-hitting and it tackled the issues head on. It is that same honesty and boldness that we now need to see on the issue of social care reform.
By 2026, we are set to have double the number of people aged over 85, and four times the number of people over 100 in this country than we do today. And we are also expecting large rises in the numbers of working age adults with learning disabilities.
As things are, we simply will not be able to afford to provide all these people with the care and support they need, and frankly, deserve – something which has so many implications for our communities and the whole of the public sector.
These massive demographics changes are coming at a time when we are under huge financial pressure. Recent evidence suggests that £890m is being taken out of our adult services budgets in 2012-13, on top of the £1bn taken out in 20112-12.
We are at breaking point, and we must act now.
I propose that the LGA:
1. notes that the Prime Minister has acknowledged that social care is “one of the biggest things we’ve got to get right in our public services”.
2. recognises that doing nothing is not an option and resolves to work with both Government and opposition in ensuring there is cross-party support to carry reform through.
3. recognises the announcement of a draft bill in the Queen’s Speech is a move towards addressing the very real crisis we are facing in providing care to our rapidly aging population.
4. believes that it is now time for all parts of Government to come together to ensure reform, with appropriate funding, is carried out as soon as possible.
5. notes that councils across the political spectrum are united in calling on Government to:
5.1. undertake radical reform by adopting a cap on the amount of risk individuals will be exposed to when planning for their care costs;
5.2. introducing integrated health and social care commissioning to ensure a better quality of care;
5.3. address the shortfall in funding.
6. resolves for this issue to be the top priority for the LGA in its lobbying work and for regular reporting back to member authorities on progress.”
Adult social care is such a huge challenge, of such enormous scale, that it is sometimes too easy for us to focus on the so many millions of pounds, blinding us to the fact that we are talking about people here.
People who need a helping hand to be able to carry on in life. People who are fiercely independent, but have reached a point where they rely on support from others to maintain a decent quality of life.
It wasn’t so long ago that these people were the ones working hard to make our country the great place it is today. These were the people teaching younger generations the skills they needed to get on in life, these were the people curing illnesses and treating the sick, these were the people building our towns and villages. And in many cases, these were the brave people fighting in wars to protect all of that.
Well now they need us, and now is the time we must fight for what is right.
As leaders of our communities and as members of our communities we must step up. We must not rest until we have done our duty.
Today we can take another step towards reform.
By passing this motion today we can send a strong message. We can say, in no uncertain terms, that we are ready to do what it takes to make this change happen.
Thank you Chairman, and thank you colleagues for your contribution.
You’ve heard the statistics, and you will hear them over and over again this week.
You’ve heard the debate and you know the scale of the issue we face from your own experience.
The system is broken, and unless we act now, we will not be able to give people in Britain they care they need and deserve.
We need a solution, and we need to work together with Government, to make change happen.
This is not just an issue for my Cambridgeshire colleague Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health. Although it is a topic we often discuss. This has to be a cross-party issue, with support across the board to get on and do what is right for the people of this country.
We must work together on behalf of our communities, and those of us in local government must be the force that drives change. We must take responsibility.
Supporting this motion today is another important step on the journey to reform. It is a message we must send loud and clear.
Yes, it is Government that needs to work with us to bring about a better care system. But let us not forget who we are accountable to here.
We must be able to look our communities, our friends, our parents in the eye and tell that we acted, that we did what was needed to give them the care they deserve.
And we must act now, for tomorrow we may not have the chance.
Tomorrow it may be us looking to others for support, for care, and for action.
That is why you must vote for this motion.