The newly elected chair of the Care and Support Alliance, Richard Hawkes, has today issued a warning urging the Government not to squander the last opportunity it has to solve the social care crisis for older and disabled people.

The Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of 70 different organisations representing older and disabled people’s concerns of the social care system has elected Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope as its new chair and Sue Brown, Head of Public Policy at deafblind charity Sense, as Vice Chair at a crucial juncture in the reform of the social care system.

Richard takes over from Simon Gillespie, who has recently become the Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation having previously held the same position at the MS Society.

In less than a month, the Government is expected to publish the Care and Support Bill, outlining its final plans for the future of social care in the UK and determining the level of disability at which people will be eligible for state funded support or be required to selffund.

Currently the vast majority of councils only provide state funded support for those judged to have at least “substantial” care needs and have less than £23,250 in savings. The Care and Support Alliance believes that the threshold is set too high and those with needs currently assessed as “moderate” should receive state support.

The eligibility criteria will also determine who is able to benefit from the £72,000 lifetime care costs cap recently announced by the Government.

A month later in June, in the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government is expected to set out spending priorities for the coming years and will give its first indication of the amount of money it is willing to invest in fixing the social care system.

Recent research has shown that there is a funding gap of over £2bn in local care leaving councils no other opportunity but to squeeze the support they are able to provide older and disabled people.

Care and Support Alliance members are currently asking supporters to urgently email the Secretary of State of Health Jeremy Hunt through an e-action, asking him to use the spending review to end the spiralling care crisis once and for all. A link to the e-action can be found on the CSA website http://careandsupportalliance.wordpress.com/

A Joint Committee of both houses scrutinising the draft care and support bill, has warned the Government’s plans will fail without a greater focus on prevention and integration . The Joint Committee goes as far as to say that they received significant evidence to suggest setting national eligibility at “substantial” was too high.

Councils have been warning that the funding crisis engulfing social care will “bring local government to its knees”.

Richard Hawkes, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

“In a matter of weeks the Government will be making crucial decisions that will have huge implications on the lives of hundreds of thousands of older and disabled people struggling with their day to day lives.

“We urge the Government to listen to MPs, Peers, councils and the thousands of disabled and older people and take the bold but necessary steps it needs to address the chronic funding gap that exists in social care today.

“If the Government is serious about giving disabled and older people a future with dignity it needs to ensure social care support isn’t just available to a lucky few but to the thousands of people who are struggling with their everyday lives.”

Contact: Fiona Callister 07825 322748

Notes to editors:

1. About the Care & Support Alliance

The Care & Support Alliance is a consortium of over 65 organisations who represent and support older people, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions and their families. We are working together to promote urgent reform to tackle the crisis in our care system.

www.careandsupportalliance.org

About Richard Hawkes

Richard joined Scope as Chief Executive in January 2010. He has held senior positions in a number of UK and international development organisations and has held a range of Trustee and Board roles.

He is currently a member of the BBC Appeals Advisory Committee, a Trustee of Skills Third Sector (the skills council for the voluntary sector) and a Trustee of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group.

Before joining Scope, Richard was the International Programmes Director of VSO, responsible for programmes in more than 40 countries, and the Chief Executive of Sense International, a charity supporting deaf and blind people in developing countries. He has worked for the United Nations in Vienna and was National Secretary of the National Union of Students.

Richard was Chair of BOND, the umbrella body for UK-based international charities, for five years, including when it co-ordinated the Make Poverty History campaign.

About Sue Brown

Sue Brown joined Sense as Head of Public Policy in 2002. In this role she has been a Board member of the Learning Disability Coalition, and has developed Sense's work to enable deafblind people to gain the skills to campaign and lobby.

Before joining Sense, Sue was Campaigns Manager at Mind for five years. In this role she established and led the Mental Health Alliance which lobbied on the reform of the Mental Health Act. Sue has over 15 years' experience of working to ensure that the voices of disabled people are heard in debates about social policy, in particular those groups which are often marginalised and ignored

Members:

ACEVO, Action Duchenne, Action for Advocacy, Action on Hearing Loss, Advice UK, Afiya Trust, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Ambitious about Autism, Anchor, Arthritis Care, British Heart Foundation, British Lung Foundation, British Red Cross, Carers Trust, Carers UK, Centre for Policy on Ageing, CLIC Sargent, Contact a Family, The Disabilities Trust, Disability Rights UK, Disability Living Foundation, Down’s Syndrome Association, ECCA, EDCM, Epilepsy Society, Grandparents Plus, Guide Dogs, Help the Hospices, Home Group, Housing 21, Huntington’s Disease Association, Independent Age, Jewish Care, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Mencap, Mind, MND Association, MS Society, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, NAT, National Autistic Society, National Care Forum, National Council for Palliative Care, National Family Carers Network, National Housing Federation, National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, National Voices, Neurological Alliance, Papworth Trust, Parkinson’s UK, Patients Association, Real Life Options, Relatives & Residents Association, Resolution Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, RNIB, Scope, Sense, Shaping Our Lives, Shared Lives Plus, Stroke Association, Sue Ryder Care, Terrence Higgins Trust, Turning Point, UKHCA, United Response, Vitalise, VoiceAbility, WRVS.

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