Mencap has dismissed claims made by Matt Hancock that the Coronavirus Act has improved access to social care.
The Health and Social Care Secretary was responding to a question from Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, in Parliament yesterday, amid evidence that disabled people needing care have had their care packages reduced since the start of the pandemic.
Hancock confirmed that Schedule 12 of the Coronavirus Act, which allows local authorities to suspend their assessment, care planning and review duties under the Care Act, will be renewed, adding that this section has been “very important” to ensuring that care is prioritised for “those who need it most”.
“I believe that the way that this Act has worked has overall improved access to care for people, both in terms of hospital and in our social care system, which has of course been an area of great scrutiny throughout the pandemic,” he said.
Mencap has dismissed this claim and called for Care Act easements to be scrapped.
Edel Harris, chief executive of the charity said: “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.”
MPs approved the motion to renew the Coronavirus Act by 330 votes to 24 yesterday, after Matt Hancock told the Commons that the measures were “still needed to keep people safe”.