Social Care
Last Updated: March, 2019

Social Care (also known as Community Care) is intended to help people who need care and support to live with dignity and independence in the community and to avoid social isolation. Such services are primarily aimed at elderly people, people with learning difficulties, people with a mental illness and people with a physical disability. Social / Community care might overlap with the concept of  long-term / continuing care  where a situation demands ongoing support.

When the NHS began in 1948 (see  National Health Service Act ), local authorities had responsibility for social care, including residential care for frail elderly people and domiciliary care. Sick or infirm elderly people requiring long-term care were the responsibility of the NHS until the  NHS and Community Care Act .

Roughly one in three people have some kind of relationship with social care services, which provide care, support and safeguards for those in our communities with the highest need, as well for as their carers.

Social care includes a wide range of services, such as:

  • Home care services: help with personal tasks - E.g: bathing, washing, getting up and going to bed, shopping, and managing finances.
  • Home help: can provide assistance with general domestic tasks, including cleaning and cooking, and may be particularly important in maintaining hygiene in the home.
  • Adaptations to the home: major adaptations (E.g: installation of a stair lift or downstairs lavatory, or lowering work tops in the kitchen); minor adaptations (E.g: handrails in the bathroom).
  • Meals: daily delivery of a meal, delivery of a weekly or monthly supply of frozen food or providing meals at a day centre or lunch club.
  • Recreational, occupational, educational and cultural activities: day centres, lectures, games, outings and help with living skills and budgeting. This usually also involves providing transport to attend facilities.

Health and social care services are still really two sides of the same coin, but England has legally distinct health and social care systems.

In England, local authority funding (including funding for social care) has until recently come from four main sources: central government, business rates, council tax, and fees & charges. In 2010, almost 80 percent of local authority money came from central government grants. Since then, government funding to local authorities has not only dropped dramatically, but grants are no longer allocated according to an annual assessment of needs. There will be no reassessment to reflect changing need or deprivation until 2020. And by 2020, the government plans to further decrease central grants, leaving local authorities increasingly reliant on business rates, council tax and charging for services.

Since 2010 South Tyneside has had its central government funding cut from £191-million to £124-million in 2019. That's £67-million less. There is another £44-million to be cut from 2019 to 2023 - a total reduction of 60 percent in little more than a decade.

This unprecedented - and centrally driven - economic assault is ending redistribution from the wealthiest to the poorest.  Privatisation  however, continues to ensure that the money and labour of the poorest is transferred to the wealthiest. Responsibility to pay for essential public services - needed most by the poorest - is being transferred disproportionately to the poorest! By contrast, control is being further centralised and privatised. The Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith said in relation to capitalism:

All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

Privatisation not only underpins the situation with our reducing public health services, but explains the many other service closures in our borough (see  Prevention ). As these new sources of revenue for local authorities are not pooled centrally to be redistributed as best needed, the result will be widening inequalities between different regions.

Dr John Lister warned:

Report after report highlights the chronic, systematic failure of home care services and nursing homes for frail older people - services entirely dominated by for-profit private providers, offering clients the spurious 'choice' of uniformly awful services at extortionate rates while paying most of their exploited staff just the minimum wage. The chaos in this sector gives a real flavour of what many other sectors of health care will look like once they have been carved up between  Any Qualified Provider .