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Kings Speech: smoking bans, leasehold laws, but not a single social care mention

Social care experts have criticised the King’s Speech as it outlined the government’s incapability to prioritise the struggling sector.

For the first time in 70 years, King Charles delivered the Kings Speech on Tuesday 7th November at the House of Lords. Although it was supposed to be a celebrated occasion, social care professionals from across the UK have expressed their frustration that despite the sector being on its knees, the government are still choosing to bury their heads in the sand.

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Within the speech, which was written by ministers but delivered by the King, an emphasis was placed on one particular health issue – a tobacco and vape bill will be introduced to stop younger people from smoking in a bid to protect their health.

At the beginning of October Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the proposed bill as a plan to create a ‘smoke-free generation’ and stop underage children from developing severe health issues. Now that the bill has been accepted, it means the age of people who can currently buy tobacco – people over the age of 18 – will increase by a year each year.

Despite the government attempting to rectify the health of young people, they failed to address the current health and care crisis that is plaguing the social care sector and affecting the jobs of thousands of people.

Sam Monaghan, CEO of MHA, the UK’s largest charity care provider, said: ‘Over 400,000 people are awaiting assessment, care provision or review according to figures from the Association of Adult Directors of Social Services (ADASS), while there are now more care home closures than ongoings.

‘With an estimated 150,000 vacancies across the social care sector, there are also ongoing challenges around recruitment and retention. In the face of an ageing population, demand for skilled and caring professionals will only increase.’

Against this backdrop, Kirsty McHugh, CEO of Carers Trust, stated that it will now be too late for the government to help the sector should they decide to in the future.

‘This is the final year for the UK Government to make good on its promise to fix funding of social care, but that opportunity has yet again gone begging,’ Kirsty said. ‘The Prime Minister claims to be focused on long-term solutions, so to have nothing to say on one of the most crucial long-term issues we face is astonishing and suggests this is little more than empty rhetoric.’

Kirsty added: ‘While those in power do nothing, around seven million unpaid carers will continue to prop up the social care system with no additional help. By completely failing to support them properly, the Government has ignored millions of people who are grappling with one of the UK’s biggest problems. No wonder carers tell us they feel forgotten, neglected, and burnt out.’

Image: Aleks Marinkovic

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