NI social workers voice opposition to means-tested social care payments

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On the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Northern Ireland has voiced its opposition to suggestions that social care services should be funded via contributions made by service users.

A statement made yesterday by the Department of Health draws upon the recommendation of an Expert Advisory Panel report, Power to People, published in December 2017, which proposes the introduction of charging arrangements for social care services based on the principle that where a person can afford to contribute to the cost of a service they should do so.

Speaking in response the Department’s statement, Carolyn Ewart, National Director of BASW Northern Ireland said: “BASW Northern Ireland contends a means-tested approach to charging service users to fund adult social care services is deeply flawed. It places an additional burden, both financial and in terms of anxiety, on vulnerable service users—people who are often in need of emotional as well as physical support”.

Ms Ewart added: “Proposals for means-testing fail to recognise that an individual with sufficient assets to pay for their own care will most likely have already contributed to the financing of services via taxes paid. Requiring them to contribute again is asking that individual to pay twice. In contrast, a truly equitable approach would be to recommend for all social care to be provided free at the point of need.

“The Expert Panel’s report into Adult Social Care accepts the falsehood that the current Westminster Government’s austerity policy and pursuit of a low tax economy is the only legitimate approach to managing public finances. BASW recognises austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity. Rather than looking to vulnerable service users to fund their own care, society must engage in a much broader debate to explore wider funding opportunities including ringfenced tax increases for the provision of social care.”

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