Claudia Mendoza: How Social Care Has Been At The Forefront Of Our Recent Policy Work

JLC Head of Policy and Research Claudia Mendoza discusses how Social Care has been at the forefront of the JLCs recent policy plans.

In the past year, the Jewish Leadership Council has put the issue of social care at the forefront of our policy work. Camp Simcha and The Fed are our newest social care members, joining Jewish Care, Nightingale-Hammerson, and Norwood.

Part of our strategy has been to convene our members with relevant government officials to express some of our concerns about current social care policy. We recently held a roundtable meeting with the social care policy experts at No.10, resulting in a further set of meetings to follow up on some agreed actions.

The nature of these meetings has been to discuss what concerns us and how the issues can be resolved so that our social care member organisations can function to the best of their ability. The Jewish community’s social care groups are largely hailed as a success story and an exemplar of the Big Society in action, saving the government millions of pounds.

Given that we are in a General Election year, it was crucial for us to meet members of the shadow government who are currently formulating their policy strategy. We met with Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham and Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, Liz Kendall, to present our key issues of concern and to get a sense of what they intend to do to respond to these concerns if they form the next government.

Whilst the Dilnot Report is highly regarded by our relevant member organisations, the fine print to the Report and in our various meetings, we have probed for more detail, especially on the issue of culturally focused services. We also raised the problem of regulation and red tape in the industry and how it hinders our ability to perform.

We are cognisant that the government is operating a stretched budget, so rather than asking for more money to be poured into our organisations, we discussed other ways for us to secure the necessary resources.

A big issue for our social care organisations is to establish the ‘true cost of care’, as Local Authority funding does not always meet the actual costs. This is an even bigger challenge in the Jewish community as our costs are higher and the gap between what the government gives us and what our true costs are is rising. One suggestion would be legislating to allow for family top ups/Third Party Contributions – currently not sanctioned - to help bridge the gap.

Given that the Jewish community is ageing ahead of the general population, these issues have never been more pertinent, especially since over the years our costs have increased as Local Authority funding has decreased.

We explored the idea of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) and social investment as a way of procuring more money. We are engaged in an ongoing conversation with the relevant people at the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office to see if and how SIBs can help our member organisations.

One of the areas we can collaborate with government on is that of mental health, specifically dementia. Our social care member organisations have done some amazing work on this - a disease David Cameron has said is ‘as great a threat as cancer’.

Indeed, Cameron has made dementia one of the priorities of the UK presidency of the G8 in 2013, setting a target date of 2025 to find a cure or at least a treatment to slow the disease. He has ploughed huge resource into this issue, recently launching the world’s biggest study on it. We have agreed to prepare a paper on best practice with respect to dealing with people with this tragic disease, whilst highlighting any challenges we have faced. We are thrilled to be helping the government on this very worthwhile cause.

Unfortunately, the services our social care organisations provide – whether its care for the elderly, or care for those with mental health problems – are very much in demand. As long as that continues to be the case, we will work with the government to ensure that any limitations on these provisions are addressed and resolved.