Mencap has rejected claims by Matt Hancock that people’s access to social care has improved since the beginning of the pandemic.
Speaking in parliament earlier this week, the health secretary said he believed the Coronavirus Act has overall ‘improved access to care for people both in hospital and in our social care system’, which Mr Hancock added has been ‘an area of great scrutiny throughout the pandemic’.
MPs voted this week to renew the Coronavirus Act, which was first introduced in March.
The wide-ranging legislation allows councils to suspend their assessment, care planning and review duties under the Care Act.
Mencap has urged the health secretary switch off the Care Act easements and support local authorities and social care providers so they can meet everyone’s support needs.
‘With tough times ahead, we understand the need to extend the emergency coronavirus measures but continuing to cut people’s social care at a time when they need it most is unconscionable,’ said Mencap’s chief executive, Edel Harris.
‘While the secretary of state claimed the Coronavirus Act has improved access to social care, that is not what people with a learning disability are telling us. Over two thirds of people with a learning disability we surveyed reported that their care package had been reduced since the start of the pandemic, leaving them stuck in lockdown with increasing support needs. The scale of the cuts indicate that some local authorities may be unofficially using the Care Act easements; there must be greater scrutiny of the impact of COVID-19 on social care provision.
‘We urge the health secretary to switch off the Care Act easements and replace them with support for local authorities and social care providers so they can meet people’s needs during the coming months. Ultimately, the government must provide an immediate injection of funding to stabilise the social care sector so we can weather the storm of this ongoing crisis. We cannot let COVID-19 become an excuse to slowly dismantle people’s care packages,’ added the chief executive.
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